Stronghold 2

Format: PC
2K Games

5 026555 038423
Age Restrictions: 12+
22 April 2005

It is the time of change; the land is in an uproar with the threat of internal politics and foreign invaders at the door. You are a good hearted lord who is charged with the defence of the land and its people. To this end you are charged with the construction of a medieval castle...

First impressions of Stronghold 2 are not good. The game seems buggy and ultimately unsatisfying. Getting into the game is easy enough, with the user interface being fairly intuitive and easy to pick up. A new player should be up and running in very little time. Not played a game like this before? No problem. The developers have included a hierarchical hints list which goes from gentle prompts to telling you, explicitly, what you need to do next.

The game play is similar to a number of others in this genre. You need to marshal your resources to fight off marauding bands of invaders whilst at the same time building your castle and supporting community. You are presented with two possible single player campaigns to undertake: War and Peace, the difference between the two being self evident from the titles. To be honest it really doesn't matter much which one you pick as the missions in each are rather repetitive and the enemy AI is not very creative or intuitive and with a little practice do not make a credible threat. More interesting are the skirmish and multiplayer options, which have the added bonus of dumping the dreary storyline, for a much straighter build and kill option.

Graphically the game is presented in 3D which does it little favours. The game looks and feels older than it should and has the air of a rush job to cash in on the success of Stronghold 1. The game freezes at some points leading to great irritation. Navigation around the field of interest is simple enough, but zoom into some of the characters and you'll see men walking through solid object or even merging with them, it can make keeping track on whose doing what confusing, and in a new game should really not be an issue.

The cut scenes are also dated, with fairly poor animation and some really over the top voice overs, what where they thinking?

Overall if you've never played a resource management game and your bag is castles then this might be for you, but you'll have to put up with the buggy game play, and the sometimes dodgy graphics.

Charles Packer

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