|Dev: Firefly Studios|
|Release: October 25, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Alcohol Reference, Blood, Violence|
Also, some of the long-range units work best when they continually retreat to avoid melee combat, which is hard to do in real time when you're focusing on 100 other things. I'd have liked an option to set them to skirmish mode and let them do their thing, like in Shogun 2: Total War. Further, some players might want bigger maps, or be annoyed that tiny peasants can bring down thick walls if they keep at it for long enough.
There are also a few obvious features that are just plain missing. For example, there's no option to slow time down or speed it up. There's no co-op, and no human-on-A.I. skirmish mode aside from the historical sieges. Further, there's no way to adjust the difficulty, meaning that newcomers can't get the hang of the game without being slaughtered, and experts can't keep playing the single-player campaign without being bored.
Newcomers definitely get the shorter end of the stick. Some of the military missions here are incredibly difficult if you don't know what you're doing; I'm too embarrassed to admit how long it took me to master the third one (in which you start with nothing but some soldiers and a few resources, and yet are expected to hold off several waves of invading troops). While there's a quick tutorial, it leaves out a lot of key details, and the help menu isn't always, um, helpful. (On a message board, a developer said that Firefly is looking into writing a more detailed guide.) So, if you've never played a Stronghold game before, this might be one title to put on your "buy it on sale sometime next year, rather than straining my holiday budget" list.
The folks at Firefly knew what they had to do to win back Stronghold fans, and they mostly did it: Everything that annoyed people about Stronghold 2 is gone, and some great new features have been added. Nonetheless, Stronghold 3 needs a few patches and maybe a price cut before it can starting winning new fans for the franchise.
CCC Contributing Writer