few months ago, GQman sent me a link to a game development
house I'd never heard of before.. Firefly Studios.... He was
all cranked up and excited about a new game they had in development,
Stronghold. "It's just like the old Castles game!"
he cried, with nostalgic tears in his eyes. So natually I
had to go take a look..... And it's not bad.. Not bad atall!
As the the game starts, the King has been captured and is
being held for ransom. Your father has been treacherously
slain by upstart lords, who have split up the Kingdom and
taken it for their own. Driven into hiding you hook up with
two of the lords still loyal to the King and stage a rebellion.
You must topple the upstart Lords one by one, build an army
and supporting castles and win back the Kingdom. (Standard
medeival fare really.)
is basically a traditional Real Time Strategy game, played
from an isometric "Diablo" type view. Build your
base, amass resources, build troops, kick the crap out of
the enemy. (Well, that's the PLAN anyhows. Whether or not
it works out that way is up to your meager skills.)
take over counties and defeat the enemy's troops in that area
you gain influance, supporters, technology and gear and move
onto the next level. You start with the ability to make only
humble archers and villages, but move onto crossbowmen, knights
and soaring castles.
move through the levels, you collect a wide variety of resources.
Unlike most RTSs where you have two or three this time around
you've got many, broken down into subcategories. Foods include
things like bread, meat and cheese. Building materials include
wood, stone and iron. (Also used for various units and their
weapons.) There are a variety of steps to go through when
collecting your supplies and materials as well. For instance
you can build a wheat farm, the most efficiant food production
facilitaty known to man before the invention of the 7-11.
The only problem is that the farmer takes the weat to your
town square where... it sits... Unill you create a mill. The
mill converts the raw wheat into flour... Which sits.. Until
you build a baker.... Who makes the flour into bread and drops
it into your granary. The game tends to have quite a bit of
micromanagment of this sort, which normally annoys the hell
out of me. In Stronghold however, I really don't mind it....
Another than the fact that it does give the game a slightly
higher learning curve, which may scare more casual gamers
off or discourage them early on.
to build up your base and fend off the enemy hordes, you're
going to have to gain skills at not only collecting and using
various supplies, but also keeping your people happy. As your
popularity rises, people come to your castle and become your
minions, doing your bidding. They also pay taxes, although
the little ingrates always seem to whine about it. Peasents
will farm, hunt, build things for you, and become members
of your army. As long as you keep your popularity up you'll
do great. Regretably sometimes even if you're not torturing
the rabble, or putting up bad things. (Heh. Gibbets, heads
on spikes, and racks can decorate your realm if you happen
to be the sort of ruler who likes fear more than gold in his
coffers.) the little bastards you rule can decide to not like
you very much (An attack that you don't fight off quickly
is VERY bad for morale for instance.) and will start to leave.
Regretably this means that your buildings start to be unmanned,
which puts you even deeper in the hole... *sigh* You can always
start handing out more food, or reducing taxes... Or hell,
even giving the peasants money to come to your castle. As
Mel Brooks put it "The peasants are revolting.... Yes..
Yes they are."
of the levels are the straight build and fight scenarios we're
used to in RTS games. You'll also be scouting, attaempting
to capture an enemy castle or acomplishing other goals. Inevitably
however, the vast majority of the levels come down to building
up a fortification, keeping your people happy (or in fear
of you!) and fighting off progressively harder waves of enemy
troops untill the final big battle with the evil bastards.
Fail, and it's time to load, or play the level again from
scratch. Absolutely no branching in the story with this one
folks. (Is anyone else getting sick of linear games? I am!)
are different types of game play in both single and multiplayer.
You can play in two different modes: military (Yay!) and economic
one. The combat style of play allows you to play a 21 mission
campaign, launch a multiplayer game, an invasion (skirmish
basically.) or a siege mission, where you must defend a historical
castle against attackers. (No managment here, just pure combat.)
economic mode you have the options to play the economic campaign
(Set immediately after the combat campaign.) where you must
rebuild your kingdom, a single mission, or a free build mode.
Free build rocks! No enemies, no goals. Just build and build
and build some more.