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Stronghold 3 Gold Edition Review

/ Jun 27th, 2012 No Comments

SH3GE

Stronghold 3 Review

Stronghold 3 Review

It was back in the 1980’s when I first played what would become the Real Time Strategy genre. A game called “North and South” on the Amstrad CPC had you controlling either the Union or the Confederate forces. It was mind blowing; you could move your military units around the battlefield, make sure they were supplied with ammunition, food and other supplies and generally relive the American Civil War. The next game of this genre I played was the infamous “Populous”, which technically was even more real-time than “North and South”, although based on you playing God and expanding your universe by again supplying your people with the supplies they needed to build a new world and combat the mortal enemy who lived on another part of the map. Of course, Real Time Strategy games have come on a long way since those days, and I have dabbled with numerous versions on numerous machines, so it was with quite a lot of excitement that I was given the task of reviewing “Stronghold 3”.

Stronghold 3 Gold Edition is the follow-up to its 2005 sibling Stronghold 2 (and an upgrade to the 2011 Stronghold 3), and is set 10 years on from that episode. It follows the story of The Boy and his arch enemy The Wolf. The Wolf has panicked the nation by raiding the towns and villages and The Boy has to muster up his group of allies to destroy The Wolf and his evil plans. The whole premise sounds pretty simple, and in practise it should be, however the lack of a successful training stage in the game insures that the player can become frustrated quite quickly if he or she does not put enough time into the game.

Before we start the game you have to of course install it onto your PC. Minimum specs are pretty low, and the game should run on any modern day PC or laptop. On my Asus gaming laptop (Windows 7, 1GB nVidia GT540M Graphics card, 8GB RAM, Intel i7 2630QM up to 2.9Mhz Chipset), it ran with all the details turned up to maximum without any issues. Even running the game on the Intel HD 3000 on-board graphics the game ran well with almost every detail turned up to maximum. I would recommend a mouse for use with the game if you are using a laptop though, infact, I recommend a mouse with a laptop at anytime where possible. Installation is straight forward and very quick and simple, so no issues there, although there are patches to download once the game is installed.

Stronghold 3 Gold Edition

Stronghold 3 Gold Edition

There are numerous single player modes available for the player from the very start of the game. The first is a story driven military campaign that follows Wolfs return to the series and places you in various RTS missions. The game uses the Havok engine, and everything looks quite nice. There are better looking games out there, and there are games that look a lot worse. The game employs a new weather system that gives you different weather conditions and some great new lighting effects. Burning effects of castles and other buildings are particularly impressive, with a realistic crumbling effect and some cool smoke effects.

The second mode of play is a sim-based micro-management RTS where the player has to concentrate on a particular village and control its resources and the productivity of the village. This seems to be more in-depth than the military campaign mode, and will appeal to those people who enjoy micro-managing every aspect of a game. This part of the game looks identical as you would expect and has some real depth of play for the player to chew on.

Night-time play is quite exciting as the game adds a fog to the game where everything outside the players play-area is in total darkness until they go to the area with torches held by various peasants or other light-emitting articles. If the player so wishes, they can also light up other areas of the map by setting alight watch towers and other such obstacles. This can be most handy when in military campaign mode as it gives you the upper-hand on where the enemy are camped. The fog-of-war effect is always a welcome addition to games like this, and really adds to the tension of the game. Fans of the previous games will be happy to learn that cow catapulting is back, plus you can launch other smaller animals such as sheep and pigs and spread disease to other villages.

There are multi-player options including King Of The Hill, Capture The Flag and other modes. There are a lot of people who spend a lot of time on these modes, and there is enough to keep the player occupied. The maps on the multiplayer are interesting and varied and the game play can be exciting and generally fun to play when you are playing against the right people. However, as in most multi-player games, it really depends on the people you play with as to how good the games are. As I’m pretty useless at multi-player games, most of my time is spent in the single player campaigns.
The Gold Edition also adds the Blackstaff Campaign, the new Coronation mode in multi-player and twelve historical sieges. Also, there is a great free-build sandbox mode that lets you play around with various game settings and allows you to have more fun than you can catapult a cow at.

SH3GE

SH3GE

Onto the game play, and many reviewers have mentioned that the game is riddled with bugs galore. Through my play-through I did not come across any glaring bugs that hampered by game playing experience in any way. Archers generally attacked as they were told, attacks generally took place where they should have and supplies generally ended up where they were headed. Of course, the biggest let-down, as mentioned earlier in the review is the training that comes with the game. It’s all too simple for the most part, so you are left scratching your head and working out for yourself what to do and how to do it. The enemy AI is a bit hit or miss, and sometimes your comrades are overpowered easily while in a fortified area that should be invincible and other times the enemy can’t bypass a small unit that is hardly protected.

Overall, Stronghold 3 is fun to play at the early stages, and if you have the time and effort to put into it the game can become rewarding. Glitches in the AI and bugs reported by other people will seriously affect some people more than others (I presume gamers who only ever play RTS game will see the glaring bugs more than a casual player of RTS games like myself). There are patches reguarly released that tweak various performance issues with the game, and no doubt in the future the game will be more balanced so the people who enjoy playing it will have an even better experience. The Gold Edition is a welcome upgrade, and brings along a host of fixes that make ot one of the better RTS games out there.

Overall Ratings – Stronghold 3 Gold Edition (PC)

Gameplay:

8/10

Graphics:

8/10

Sound:

8/10

Presentation:

8/10

OVERALL SCORE:

80%

Mark Adams
Mark Adams been gaming since 1977 and owned almost every console since the original Pong machine. Gaming has always been part of his life and he enjoys a variety of games and his mind is always open to new experiences in the gaming world. Over the years he has written gaming articles for blogs and local newspapers, and he always tries and add something a little bit different from your usual review. He works in IT for a small local company in Wales, and when he's not working, he's gaming!
Mark Adams
Mark Adams
Mark Adams

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