Stronghold 3 is the long awaited and anticipated sequel in the stronghold series. If you loved the previous games and you can remember the balance between city management, combat and pleasing your peasants then you have the wrong game. Somewhere between the original game and now the developer have decided that they can improve upon the original game only to ruin the game, however I should not get ahead of myself that will come later.
Stronghold 3’s plot caries on from the original game series. The Wolf has returned to take back the throne, and your job as to stop the Wolf and protect the rightful heir to the throne. The story is told to you through a narrative before and after every mission accompanied by black and white drawings portraying the narrative.
This game provides you with two distinct campaigns covering the 2 major mechanics of the game, military and economic. From first-hand experience and reading around the internet the economic campaign should be started first so lower the learning curve of the other campaign even if you don’t complete it. This is because Stronghold 3’s tutorial is very simple and covers very little meaning that if you dive headfirst in the military campaign then you will quickly find yourself in too deep. This is because during the military campaign not only do you have to manage a castle defence you also need to keep the castle running. This can be very overwhelming unless you have some experience running a castle and keeping the population happy, if so then you will only need to be thinking about the defence. In keeping with the previous games Stronghold also provides you with classic sieges to work though, however even here the game feels lacking. The castles just don’t feel epic enough and the defending for is so small it just does not feel right.
The biggest flaw in Stronghold 3 in my eyes is the physics or lack of them and AI. Even in the previous Stronghold games the physics were better. Catapults were not pinpoint accurate, neither were trebuchets. War does not quite seem the same whenever archer, catapult, spear man is pinpoint accurate. Also the games AI can be just terrible, there are no words to describe how annoying it is when you want your army to engage the opposing army, you click on a unit expecting the AI to automatically spread your shots out across the enemy, but instead it all your units target that single unit and ignore the rest, even upon that units death the majority of your melee units will just sit around and wait to be attacked. This forces you to try and micro manage an army at full game speed, to get your army to actually attack the opposing army and not a single unit.
Stronghold 3’s graphics are also rather lacking compared to the standard today. That said when zoomed out playing normally they are not bad, you only really notice how bad they are up close. This does not make it acceptable but personally I can live with it. The voice acting is acceptable however it gets very annoying fast and the music is also fitting but annoying. However more importantly visual or voice announcements that your peasants are being killed, or you are low on food, or any number of minute problems that can cause your castle to fail are not announced. Many times I have been forced to restart a mission because my peasants were being killed, and I was unaware of this until too late, simply because there is no warning they are being mauled by wolfs or such.
Despite what I have said thought this review Fire Fly studios are working extremely hard and fast to fix all these issues, in the time it has taken me to write this review 2 major patches have come out improving the game and fixing many issues.
Personally this game has great potential and with all the patches the game will become less frustrating to play. Stronghold 3 is a very hard game you can’t ignore this fact even if all the bugs are fixed, by the games very nature it will be a hard game, and this is why I love it. It has been an extremely long time since I have played a game this hard, ignoring the bugs; the game is constantly making you think and forcing it to give your all.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.