Back in 2001, small time London-based game company, Firefly Studios, launched their first game, about building castles and trying to make an impenetrable fortress, called Stronghold. The game, despite lacking much of a story, was a critical and commercial success, and I personally found myself playing, off and on, since I got it. Despite there being virtually nothing to do, I kept going on and on trying to achieve ultimate castledom.
After the games startup junk plays and if you choose to do so, watch the small movie about the middle ages, you’re greeted with a menu containing options, a map editor, and the gateway to the economic and military campaigns. Now, I sort of just skipped over these for the most part, but I did try them out. They’re about what you would expect from a game of this kind, mostly bland, but decent missions structured around specific goals. However, after a while, this gets kind of repetitive and is no longer fun to do. Where this game succeeds though, is not in these campaign missions.
Where the game gets good for me is in the free build mode. There are no goals, no random armies of wolves preying on the village children, just an open sandbox sort of experience. I’m not sure why, but I spent about 90% of my time in this mode alone. Maybe it’s because of the open atmosphere I mentioned earlier, but there’s something else, and I can’t put my finger on what it is. It’s just a great experience. Build your small village, earn up enough money to raise an army, build some walls, work on elaborate traps, get a stable economy... then summon a crap ton of invaders and have them tear down your three hours’ worth of work. It’s eerily sadistic in that regard. Once I found out that I could do this, I can’t even count how many times I would experiment with how far I could push my city to its limits. Send a small patrol, see how they react, upgrade defenses, send a bigger patrol, and see how they react, upgrade defenses, repeat, and repeat, and repeat. Trying to figure out how you’re supposed to go about building the perfect stronghold is half the fun of this game.
So what’s my final opinion? In case you didn’t know, I give three different ratings on each item I review, reflecting three different levels of concern for you, the audience: The Casual rating for the average person, a Critical rating for those with higher standards, and my personal opinion on what I thought about the product in question.
For a casual player, this game is a 64/100. You’ll have fun, you’ll laugh at the ridiculous stuff you see, and maybe you’ll cry when you find the weakness to your perfect design. You don’t even need to be a hardcore gamer either, since this game is so old, virtually every computer should be able to run it. Right now, you can get this game and the next four games in the series on Amazon for about $10.00, so it’s definitely worth picking up. However, after a max of ten hours, I’m pretty sure that most of the general population will shove this game somewhere else to go watch Netflix. This game if far above basic, but no masterpiece.
For the critical, hardcore player, who loves the franchise, and who loves the strategy genre, this game is easy 76/100. If you fit the description, you’ll no doubt love this game. It’s a great experience. It’s fun to play, it’s the first in a famed series, it started out Firefly, and it’s worthy of praise. That, however, still means that it’s likely to end up back on the shelf soon, just like with the casual player, but as a hardcore fan, you’ll still enjoy this game for far longer than the normal person, but with still the same average experience.
As for me, this game if by far an 89/100. I’m not entirely sure why, but I just love this game. I keep this game on my hot shelf, always ready when I decide to play it again for two or three more hours. I have the Steam version, and a physical copy, just in case it gets misplaced. I may give it to much praise, but this game is definitely an early treasure, and it’s definitely grand.
So, what did you think? Are you a casual player or a hardcore fan? Do you think like I do or is it your favorite piece of trash to burn? Make sure to let me know in the comments, and why not check out some of my social media profiles? Maybe send me some recommendations on what I should review next. It really helps. As for me, well, I’ll see you next time, but first, I have a castle to tend to...
The Stronghold Collection
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