Stronghold 3 review
This is a bit complicated. The single-player version of Stronghold 3 was provided to us by Deliver2Mac and is also available from the Mac App Store as well. There’s also a separate network version of the game with an online multiplayer mode that uses the Steam online gaming service. However, Apple only wants you to buy games from the Mac App Store so they won’t sell anything linked to Steam, which means that the multiplayer version is only available from Steam. Mind you, that’s probably all academic anyway, since I’m not sure that the rather leisurely pace of Stronghold 3 would lend itself to online play.
Like its predecessors, Stronghold 3 is a strategy game in which you are put in control of a castle and a bunch of peasants. You then get to play king of the castle, building up your defences whilst also gathering wood and other resources, and doing your best to keep the peasants happy so that they continue to work and fight on your behalf.
The main military campaign sees you fending off a series of attacks from The Wolf (the bad guy from the earlier Stronghold games). This does build up to some exciting, large-scale battles, but the game puts a strong emphasis on resource management so you’ll have to spend a lot of time tending farms and chopping down trees before your army is ready to wade into combat.
The pace of the game isn’t helped by the speed at which your troops move around the screen. Even in the midst of battle your soldiers amble slowly around as though they hadn’t a care in the world. This means that Stronghold 3 is very much a game for the thoughtful player who is more concerned with mustering resources and formulating strategy rather than just rushing off to war at the drop of a hat. This aspect of the game is further reinforced by the secondary ‘economic’ campaign, which gives you the task of rebuilding an Abbey and restoring the local economy in the aftermath of war.
You have to protect your peasants if you want them to fight on your side.
Strategy gamers who just want to get stuck in to some medieval military mayhem should perhaps look at the faster-paced WarCraft 3, or wait for the forthcoming Empire – Total War. However, Stronghold 3 will offer a challenge to players who like to concentrate on the fine detail of building up resources and planning their preparations for war.