Stronghold (2001 video game)


Stronghold (2001 video game)

Infobox VG
title = Stronghold


developer = Firefly Studios
publisher = Take 2 Interactive and God Games
released = October 21, 2001
genre = Real-time strategy
modes = Single player, multiplayer (IPX, TCP/IP or Modem)
ratings = vgratings|ESRB=Teen|ELSPA=11+
platforms = Microsoft Windows / Mac OS X
media = CD (1)
requirements = Pentium II 300 MHz / PowerPC G3/350 or faster CPU, 64MB RAM (128MB for Mac version), 750 MB HD, 4 MB Video memory
input = Keyboard, mouse

"Stronghold" is a 'historic real-time strategy (RTS)' game developed by Firefly Studios in 2001. While the game focuses primarily on conquest and expansion through military pursuits, "Stronghold" does provide space for economic strategy and development: there is both an economic and a military campaign to be played and both are discussed in the game manual. The game takes place in Medieval Britain around the time of AD 1066, though, since there is sometimes no time limit, scenarios can continue to hundreds of years beyond this date.

As well as earning many favourable reviews from reviewers such as PCGamer and GameSpy ("see Reception section"), the game continues to boast a large community, who edit and create various material through the in-game Map Editor/Scenario Creator. [ [http://stronghold.heavengames.com/downloads/ Stronghold Heaven :: Download Central ] ]

Partly due to the above, the game spawned three sequels: "", "Stronghold 2" and "Stronghold Legends" and several compilation packages [http://stronghold.heavengames.com/fair/types/types|See images at top of page] .

Story/Military Campaign

Stronghold takes place in a medieval kingdom. The exact time and place are not stated, but a map showing the progression of the story is irrevocably one of England and Wales, and the default time in the map editor is January 1066. The story of the campaign begins when the King attempts to invade a barbarian enemy. The invasion fails and the King is captured and held for ransom. Almost immediately, four powerful lords begin to cut the kingdom into their own personal territories. The player is represented as a young, inexperienced commander, whose father is killed in an ambush by the Snake en route to propose peace with the enemy. Only two lords remain loyal to the King, and the player is in their service. The game's main campaign requires the player to eventually kill all of the four rival lords.

Characters

*The Lord: The lord of the player's castle, and also the most important character. If the Lord is to fall in battle, then the game is over.
**Lord Woolsack: Lord Woolsack is a trusted advisor. Since the player's father died in the ambush he has looked after the player. He's a bit on the careful side, and will scold the player when he takes too many risks. Lord Woolsack and Sir Longarm spend a lot of time in dispute about how the player should conduct himself.
**Sir Longarm: Sir Longarm is an old warhorse. He's an accomplished soldier and will carry out missions elsewhere in the kingdom while the player is busy fighting his own battles. He and Lord Woolsack don't agree on all things and often he will push the player to take more risks than might be prudent.
**The King: The King is seen only once near the end of the military campaign, though he is mentioned several times throughout the game.
*Duc de Puce "The Rat": The Rat was raised as an only child in lands belonging to the de Puce family. The duke showed his mother favour ensuring that she never paid taxes and always had enough to get by. One day a messenger came by and it was revealed that his father was the same Duc de Puce for whom his mother had once worked as a serving wench. Due to an unfortunate accident the entire de Puce family had been lost at sea whilst returning from holiday leaving the Rat as next in line to inherit the title of Duke. The Rat is a snivelling, whining, childish sort of character. Any setback will cause him to lose his cool in a spectacular way. As the player claims more and more of his counties he becomes seriously nervous. The Rat holds the southern counties of England and is the first of the enemy lords to be beaten. The Rat's troops wear orange.
*Duc Beauregard "The Snake": The Snake was once governor of some of the richest provinces in the homeland where he made an extremely fruitful living from under declaring the taxes he collected but, when the king found out, he had him posted here to the 'new colonies'. During one of his first military encounters, he went up against the Lord’s father losing an eye to him in combat. On that day the Snake swore he would not rest until the decapitated heads of the player's entire family were lined up on spikes outside his keep. The Snake is a conniving enemy. At one stage he will even offer you help against the troops of the Rat, but he will do so for a price. Everything the Snake does is for a price. He will be quite confident at first; however, once the player begins to surpass him he will start to panic. The bulk of the Snake's land is in Wales, though he secures one of the Rat's counties during the campaign. The Snake's troops wear yellow.
*Duc Truffe "The Pig": When the Pig was born it is rumoured he appeared to them so hideous that his parents abandoned him in the street. Whatever the case, it is known that he was taken in by a group of travelling bandits who raided small towns and villages throughout the land. Whilst growing up with this small army of rogues he was vastly underfed. however, after developing a crude but effective understanding of basic military tactics and being nominated as their leader, the Pig made sure that he had first call on the best food after each raid and has overeaten ever since. The Pig is a brute, a real pig. When he talks to the player, he can almost feel the bits of food and spittle flying in his face. He is vindictive and has little patience with fools, the only one he's somewhat afraid of is the Wolf. The Pig primarily controls the East Midland counties. The Pig's troops wear red.
*Duc Volpe "The Wolf": The Wolf's past is shrouded in mystery and what is known of his history is mainly patched together from stories and unreliable rumours alone. It is believed that both his parents died from natural causes in close succession shortly after his eighteenth birthday. Cold and raging inside, the Wolf is the player's worst enemy. The other Ducs are there only on his sufferance and none of them approach his level of depravity and hate for the player. He is the most dangerous of the game's AI enemies. It is revealed near the end of the campaign that he is truly responsible for the player's father's death. The campaign ends when the player takes his castle and slays him, avenging the death of the player's father. The Wolf holds the northern most counties of England. The Wolf's troops wear black.

Gameplay

In Stronghold, the player takes the role of a lord in a kingdom. The goal is to create a stable economy and a strong military to defend against invaders and destroy enemy castles.

Gameplay Modes

Stronghold has several modes of gameplay:
*Combat Based Games:
*'Play the Military Campaign': The Military Campaign consists of 21 missions which are either based around castle building or defending. In each of the missions, the player captures a county for his own kingdom.
*'Play a Siege': In Siege Mode there is the choice of attacking or defending castles. Whilst in Siege Mode, no buildings can be constructed nor resources gained. There are several castles already in-place but more can be created with the Map Editor, including castles build in 'Siege that!' mode with the Map Editor, where the player is given a certain amount of resources and gold with which to construct a castle.
*'Play an Invasion': In Stronghold, invasions are rather like any other mission in Real Time Strategy games - the player is presented with a goal or set of goals which may include: gaining resources; defending their castle against enemies; surviving until a specified time or defeating enemies.
*'Play a Multiplayer Game': Players may host LAN games in which the players all build castles and attempt to beat all the others.
*Economic Based Games:
*'Play the Economic Campaign': The Economic Campaign is a 5 mission campaign focusing on the economic side of the game. In this campaign, the player has to collect resources against many threats such as disease, fire, bandits and attacking animals.
*'Play an Economic Mission': In these missions, the player is provided with one or more goals to achieve which focus more on the economic side of the game. More economic missions can be created via the Map Editor tool.
*'Free Build': As this mode's name suggests, in these missions the player has free-reign to do whatever he wants. More maps of this nature can be created in the Map Editor.
*Map Editor: See Map Editor below.

Features

In order to survive, the player is required to construct a castle, building the individual buildings and the castle walls and towers. The player is also left to determine which buildings are vital and which can be left outside the castle to be destroyed in the event of an attack. There are also options to create soldiers to defend the castle, and to eventually attack and defeat an enemy.

In order to create a stable economy, as well as gathering resources, the player is required to maintain a positive popularity level with their peasants; failure to do so will result in peasants leaving the castle and, subsequently, economic collapse. Popularity can be maintained by keeping adequate housing, low taxes, high food rations, keeping a supply of ale, and religion. Popularity can also be affected by the creation of structures to inspire fear or love: facilities of torture and execution which will increase worker efficiency but reduce popularity and military units' effectiveness, presumably due to bad morale, while parks, statues and shrines will have the opposite effects.

The game differs from many other similar games as the player is required to process resources through a number of facilities before they can be used for a certain purpose. To create an army, a player must not only have free peasants, but must process the resources required for their weapons through appropriate workshops, rather than simply spend the resources required at a barracks. For example, some resources, like wood, require only a peasant to chop down a tree and turn the logs into lumber. Others, such as bread, require the harvesting of wheat, the production of flour, the production of bread, and then consumption. With enough gold, certain stages of production can be bypassed by buying the resources from the Market building. In the bread production for example, flour can be bought and turned into bread by bakeries, thereby skipping two stages.

Combat

Combat in Stronghold is based purely on a strength and hit point system. There are no counters for units, allowing hordes of spearmen, the weakest infantry, to swarm a group of swordsmen, the strongest infantry. Unlike other strategy games, units do not take up space, allowing them to overlap each other. This makes chokepoints useless and often leads to "swarming strategies". Non-combat characters, such as peasants, are killed by one shot from any ranged unit, and are very easily killed by melee units. However, certain peasant units (such as woodcutters, blacksmiths, dogs, and hunters) can retaliate: woodcutters and blacksmiths can kill archers, and hunters can take down spearmen. Injured soldiers remain injured for the rest of the game, there is no healing system.Siege Weapons, which are a vital part of many missions, are not bought from the Barracks like other units in RTS games. Instead they must be created by engineers, which costs gold.

Fire

Fire plays a main role in the Stronghold storyline, as in certain missions, igniting pitch is almost necessary for survival. Also, there are certain trigger events that start fires. Fires spread very quickly, and a flaming building can ignite people or other buildings. Fires will only go out if all sources of fuel are consumed, or if the fire itself is extinguished by fire watches. Fires can spread over small boundaries of water.

In most RTS games, fire appears on buildings as an indicator of damage; for example, if a building is damaged enough it would catch fire, but sustain no damage from that fire. In Stronghold, buildings that are damaged by siege weapons or are torn down would not catch fire; instead, they lose hit points until they collapse, with the indication of damage being visible signs of cracks/damage throughout the building. However, boiling oil pots, if destroyed, would start a small fire where they were built.

Walls

Walls in Stronghold are unique from most other RTS games that include walls, because towers and walls by themselves do nothing other than stop enemy troops and peasants. Troops may be placed on top of towers and walls, and will proceed to fire with a height advantage. Walls are not bound by set hitpoints; if a rock hits a wall in one section at a certain location, then the wall assumes a "damaged" state; the wall is lowered. Once the wall is low enough, troops (and projectiles) can move over walls. Towers have set hit points, meaning that once a certain degree of damage is achieved, the tower will collapse. Towers in Stronghold have a visual indicator of damage in the forms of impact holes and craters in the walls. If a tower or gatehouse has been damaged, there are no enemy troops in the area and there is a sufficient amount of stone in the stockpile, it can be repaired at a cost of the amount of stone necessary.

Map Editor

The map editor in Stronghold is also unique compared to other map editors. In the editor, time passes as if the game were being played; trees grow, deer move, wolves attack, etc. Also, the editor is quite simple, though beautiful maps can be created. Soldiers placed within the map can be ordered to move about as if the game were being played. Soldiers can also attack, which can be a nuisance at times when a map maker attempts to put units close to one another. Scripted events and others are included within a special menu; every function is explained.

Reception

Stronghold was generally well received by critics and reviewers earning an average score of 78% (based on 21 reviews) see table for selection of most notable reviews), though of course scores fluctuated greatly, with the lowest score being a 60% and the highest being 91%.

The visuals were praised by a number of reviewers; Gamespot said, of the graphics, 'The buildings look good, but not great, and the same can be said of the units..' and also that 'The animations are well done'. IGN disagreed to a degree, saying 'Animations are a bit choppy..' and of the visuals in general, 'This isn't the prettiest game ever by a longshot, but it's good enough that your eyes won't burn.' GameZone gave high praise to the graphics, saying that the environments were 'wonderful' and commenting on the good animation of the characters.

GameSpot did not say much on sound, but that the 'Soundtrack is dramatic..'. GameSpy were neutral on their review of sound, saying that '..the music is nice, if not especially memorable', but also commenting on the 'poor voice acting'.

Sequels

"Crusader"

The second instalment, , was released in September 2002. The gameplay is similar to the first game, but with enhanced RTS elements and with all maps and missions set entirely in the Middle Ages in the Middle East. The focus was radically influenced by fortification and siege technologies developed during the Crusades. The entire campaign, as well as the 'Conquest Trail' game-mode, both take place during the Third Crusade.

Unlike the original Stronghold, however, there are four separate, linear campaigns. The game does take history into effect: Saladin, Richard I of England are present as the game's AI characters for the player to side with or against. There are numerous other AI personalities, however. In addition, unlike the original game, the player is allowed to play either as an Arabic Lord (sic) or as a European King. This does not affect which units the player is allowed to train, but it does affect which units the player begins with.

Stronghold Warchest (First Combination Release)

This was a combination pack of Stronghold and Stronghold: Crusader with all patches applied, a new campaign trail and AI characters in Crusader, and new maps.

Stronghold 2

The sequel, and the third game in the series"Stronghold 2" was released in April 2005. The game engine was enhanced to provide full 3-dimensional graphics. Other changes include new military and peace campaigns, and the addition of crime and punishment. This was the first complete overhaul of the franchise since the first Stronghold appeared on shelves in 2001. It also included many new characters and somewhat changed the walls and towers that can be added to a castle. However, the series' unique real-time map editor was replaced with a still-life one.

Upon its release, many players were outraged by the game's frequent crashes, lag (even while playing offline on a computer with exceptional hardware), and overall buggyness. Firefly Studios paid much attention to the gaming community's complaints, and promised fixes in later patches. Soon after, patch 1.1 was released which fixed some issues. However, it was not until patch 1.2 was released that the majority of complaints stopped.

On 28th of October, 2005, a third patch (1.3.1) was released, further fixing bugs and adding similar components to that of Stronghold and Stronghold: Crusader, one of which is the memorable "Conquest Trail".

Critically, the game has received generally negative reviews, whether from the bugs present in the initial release or the gameplay.

Stronghold 2 Mini-game

To promote Stronghold 2 a Flash game was created, called [http://www.megagames.com/news/html/freegames/castleattack2.shtml Castle Attack 2] . The aim of the game was to balance building a castle and defending it. The game has 10 levels and the difficulty increases on each level.

Stronghold 2 Deluxe (Standalone Expansion Pack)

This is a new release of Stronghold 2. It contains the original Stronghold 2, as well all the patches, the minigames, and some new maps.

Stronghold Legends

The fourth game Stronghold Legends contains twenty-four missions, spanning three different campaigns: King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table, Count Vlad Dracul, and the Siegfried of Germany are each be playable.This game version contains a new feature that allows the player to control human and mythical armies. Creatures like dragons and witches can be created on Stronghold Legends.
* [http://www.gamershell.com/news/28624.html Gamershell] Legends Screenshots
* [http://www.fireflyworlds.com/shl_index.php Firefly Studios] Legends Release Page

Stronghold Crusader: Extreme

The fith game Stronghold Crusader Extreme is mostly the same as Stronghold crusader but with an expanded unit cap, allowing tens of thousands of units to be on screen at once instead of thousands in Stronghold Crusader. It also includes an updated version of the original Stronghold Crusader game with new AI and maps.

References

External links

* [http://www.fireflyworlds.com/ Firefly Studios]
* [http://stronghold.heavengames.com/ Stronghold Heaven]
*GameFAQs|type=/computer/doswin|num=444894|name="Stronghold"
* [http://www.stronghold.wikia.com/ Stronghold wiki] Stronghold Wiki (NEW)
* [http://www.crusaderextreme.com/viewforum.php?f=31 Stronghold Forum]


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