9:59 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story
GameSpy recently previewed a beta of the upcoming RTS title Stronghold and posted their initial impressions. For those unfamiliar with the title, Stronghold is a castle-building RTS game that focuses on building and maintaining castles and the towns they contain as well as doing the expected attack/defense combat thing that hallmarks most RTS titles of today.
As if to emphasize that this is not a pure combat sim, Stronghold currently lacks several combat features. There are no unit formations, tech trees, or waypoints to set for the game's various units. Players will usually find themselves more on defense during play, and can set patrol paths and issue commands such as "stand ground." Defensive weapons such as hot oil and the launching of dead cows (a genuine military tactic, not just a Monty Python gag) will also be available.
Here's a clip about the backbone of the game - the campaign mode:
Stronghold's campaign is a set of 21 story-driven linear missions. You start out with a few easy scenarios with goals such as acquiring a certain amount of food or gold, but it won't be long until you'll be building sophisticated castle structures, positioning anti-siege weapons, firing oil-lit arrows and fighting off hordes of bad guys as they try to fill in your moats and scale the walls of your abode. The campaign's linearity may be a tad upsetting to some, especially to Lords of the Realm fans that loved that game's open-ended style, but the campaign does a very good job at introducing new units, buildings and strategies as it progresses. You play the role of the king's prodigy, of sorts, and set out to defeat a set of feudal lords that are tearing the country apart at the seams. Fittingly dubbed the Rat, Snake, Pig and Wolf, the four main bad guys are all unique in appearance, personality, strength and tactics.
Further bolstering the town management system of Stronghold is the economy system. As with most RTS titles, certain structures must be constructed for others to become available. Bakers must have flour, which in turn needs a wheat field. Bow makers need wood from woodcutters, and finished bows are housed in an armory. Furthermore, the local populace needs to be kept happy with working tax rates, multiple foods, inns and religious structures. If players feel less generous, they can opt to become tyrants instead, keeping the populace in check with torture devices and harsh penalties.
Players will also have the option to play both invasion and siege missions, allowing them to alternately play at attack and defense. For those looking for human interaction, Stronghold will support up to 8 players, and various combat and non-combat goals will be available.
GameSpy notes that the animation in this title is top notch, with trees in an apple orchard swaying, hounds flushing out game for hunters, and bakers baking bread. Combat graphics include oil-lit arrows leaving smoke trails, walls exploding into chunks of stone when hit, and arrows impaling enemies. Medieval combat was a nasty business.
GameSpy - Stronghold Preview
The PC version of Stronghold is currently slated for a release on October 17th. There's no word yet on when the Mac version is coming, though MacSoft currently has the publication rights.
Stronghold Official Site
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