Stronghold Legends is the latest instalment in the popular series of RTS games, and in this incarnation is centred around three hero characters King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table, Count Vlad Dracul, and the Dietrich von Hildebrand sagas.
The basic premise of the game works on the age old classic that was so popularly adopted by the Command & Conquer series. You have to build up your armies and defend your castle and your supporting industry.
The tutorial is short and sweet, it essentially teaches you how to suck eggs, then launches you off into the game proper, where you will probably find yourself without a Scooby as to what you are supposed to do. It is only after playing the first level a few times, and failing, that you get a grasp of how the whole thing works.
As you progress, you get more options open up to you – new units, new buildings and so on. These are revealed to you in the manual (as if anyone uses those) and in the “Tutorial” tab in the level briefing. There is also a range of hints, which don’t reveal much but can be useful none the less.
In the game itself, the graphics are so so - but this is RTS and the demands for graphics are lesser than FPS – so you can run this without the need for a super computer. That said, the graphics don’t obscure anything and the relative detail and zoom is pretty good.
The AI is ok, although your troops may get themselves slaughtered or let the enemy run past if they are in the wrong mode – attack seems to be the better form of defence, unless they are plugging a hole in a defensive line ... it seems that good officers are lacking these days. There are a range of units to use and numerous enemies including mystical creatures such as giants and dragons.
The sound track perhaps raises a few more issues, as after a while, the drone of the briefing becomes a little tiresome and the adherence to the mystical age of heroes theme wears a bit thin. The mission, to a certain extent suffer from the same problem. Sometimes you just want to wage bloody war, but instead you are on some mundane task in pursuit of a storyline, that essentially, is not very engaging.
Stronghold built its reputation on the building of castles and the detail that went into it. Much of this seems to be missing from Legends, which plays out as a combat strategy, rather than a castle builder. Fans of the series may not be too impressed with this. As an RTS it doesn’t give as much as even the now vintage C&C Tiberian Sun and in the fantasy genre it has tougher competition.
Gamers are advised to seek out the demo before parting with their cash – because you might not be getting the castle building sim you expect.