|Genre(s)||Historic Real-Time Strategy|
|Mode(s)||Single player, Multiplayer|
Stronghold 2 is a real time strategy computer game released in April 2005 in which the player develops a stronghold in the middle ages. It is the sequel to Stronghold, released in 2001, also by Firefly Studios.
The game engine was enhanced over the original Stronghold to provide full 3-dimensional graphics, although the assembly code is all in one subroutine. Other changes include new military and peace campaigns and the addition of crime and punishment, allowing players to torture unruly peasants. A number of new characters were also introduced.
In the game, the player plays as a lord who rules over a medieval castle. With his available resources, the player places buildings or features, including many different kinds of food production, industry, civil, or military buildings and defences. Available peasants automatically choose jobs whenever a building requires one, so player micromanagement is minimal, he mostly needs to set up the various buildings in an efficient way while providing safety for his peasants. Military units are directly controlled individually or in groups, sometimes quite large with sieges or battles involving many hundreds on each side. One new addition to the original stronghold is the inclusion of estates, that a player can "buy" with his accumulated honor (gained by popularity, holding feasts, dances, jousting, etc.). Estates are semi-independent villages (without castle fortifications) that produce their own goods that the owner can send through carts to his castle or his allies. The inclusion of fully 3D-rendered graphics allowed Stronghold 2 to include tower interiors as battlegrounds for units, and the ability to go observe castle inhabitants very closely, which is useful considering the new features of waste & rat management. As in the original Stronghold, players can choose very different styles of play modes: Kingmaker, Siege, War Campaign, Peace Campaign, Freeplay, Custom scenario, and in Multiplayer (Originally hosted by GameSpy). An extensive map editor allows for endless replayability.
Stronghold 2 is set within the Middle Ages. The player takes control of Sir Matthew Steele, a page for Sir William. The main storyline begins when the King appears to have fled the country, and Lord Barclay attempts to take the crown for himself whilst the King is away. Sir William is your closest ally who is disgraced by the King who believes him to be a traitor after he mistakingly sieges Lady Seren's castle, helps a tyrant escape, and accidentally poisons the King (pre-story). Sir Grey is an elderly man who is nearing the end of his useful life but still builds small but powerful castles with tall towers and thick walls. Lady Seren originally appears to be an enemy, however, Sir Steele learns that she is in fact an ally, and Sir William mistook her for a witch.
Sir Edwin is the weakest of the enemy lords, and is a similar character to Duc De Puce from Stronghold. He lacks confidence but he is not as pathetic. Olaf Grimtooth is the Viking warlord. He is a battle-torn, fierce man who wears Viking clothing and talks with a very gruff voice. His iconic castles are typically wooden and usually enclose the wooden keep with an elliptical-shaped fortress with axemen on the walls. He often uses Berserkers as his main attack unit. Pascal Devereux, better known as "The Hawk" is Sir William's evil brother. He is willing to kill his brother in battle. His castles are usually built from stone and feature large, powerful gatehouses. The most evil lord is Lord Barclay (also known as The Hammer) who is similar to the Wolf from Stronghold in that he has a similar personality and builds strong castles.
Sir William recruits Matthew Steele (the player) as his page. Sir William was captured by Lord Barclay (a.k.a. "The Hammer") but has managed to escape with the help of Steele. Afterwards, Sir William and Steele ride to a nearby boathouse, defeat a small group of guards and return to William's encampment. Sir William then teaches Steele how to manage his own town and castle (as you progress you can upgrade your encampment with better fortifications) he assigns you two non-playable advisers who guide you through the rest of the game. (1) Tom Simpkins who guides you economically, giving advice such as "build a number of farms to produce food". (2) Constable Briggs who guides you in battle by warning about attacks and advising on strategy in sieges and such. At the time of Steele being taught how to run a successful town, Olaf Grimtooth, the last Viking warlord, led his army to the lands where people had settled. During that time, Steele has to find a way to defeat Olaf's army. Olaf was paid by Sir William's brother Pascal Deveraux (a.k.a. "The Hawk") to kill Steele. Before you deal with Olaf however, some monks from a nearby monastery across the river ask you to repair the collapsed bridge across it. Only after accomplishing that goal do you get to train your own soldiers to deal with Olaf. After he defeats Olaf's troops, Sir William then takes him to one of the castles of Lady Seren (a.k.a. "The Lamb"), where you will have to siege it and free Edwin (a.k.a. An English Traitor). Edwin then makes Steele a knight and gives you some land for the next mission. When you arrive in the country's borderlands, you will see that there are many problems there, one being that Sir Grey is under siege from Angus McLoud (a.k.a. "The Bull"), some monks on a mission to retrieve a Holy Relic are being trapped by wolves, and there are a camp of bandits that are harassing the estates. After you relieve the monks, aid Sir Grey in the siege, and deal with the bandits, Olaf, The Bull, and Edwin (whom really is a traitor) will siege your castle at the same time. But, if you manage to win, it is your turn to assault The Bull's castle. After The Bull flees from his demolished castle, you will have to siege Olaf's wooden fortress (which is in the same area that your first estate was, hence the level name "Return to the Monastery") to save William (who is being held captive by Olaf). Olaf escapes this time and Steele follows him. A cutscene is shown that Olaf is torturing William (hung in the gallows) but, Steele acts quickly, saving William, (by throwing an axe at the rope) and making Olaf flee. Steele must remain there to help the monks rebuild their burnt monastery (burned by Olaf) and let William recover. You will have to rebuild Olaf's wooden fortress and deal with Edwin's incoming attacks. A message from the King arrives saying that he is relieving Sir William (whom he thinks to have a plot to steal the crown) of his title Royal Champion, and grants it to you. He promised to himself not to tell it to William, because he would be devastated if he would know. After you rebuilt the monks' monastery, defeat all of Edwin's attacking troops, and help Sir William recover, you will now proceed to Edwin's lands, only to find Olaf entrenched in a fortress there. When Olaf's fortress is leveled, you are attacked by Edwin. You track Olaf to Edwin's county. There you kill Olaf, conquer six or more counties (estates), and besiege Edwin, who begs you to spare his life. You honor his request, putting him in the stocks. Shortly after you move into Edwin's castle, you are assaulted by The Hawk, The Lamb, and The Hammer. In the midst of battle, The Lamb changes sides. Her army suddenly attacks The Hawk's and The Hammer's troops. When the enemy armies are defeated, you are posed with a choice. Follow The Hawk and The Hammer, or The Lamb and The King.
If you follow The Hammer, you will first have to siege The Lamb's Abbey, where Steele and The Hammer suspect the King to be hiding. The Lamb is killed in the siege, but you find no sign of The King. The Hammer is about to force the Bishop to make him king, but Steele interrupts and offers The Hammer a deal: whoever presents the crown to the Church shall be king. The Hammer agrees. The Hawk returns from his journey but also finds no signs of the King's hiding place. Then The Hammer asks Steele to distract William while he and The Hawk find the King. Steele agrees and settles in a castle in William's lands. Steele tried to convince William to join him and leave The King's side but William refuses and tells him to leave his lands or else he, William, will "strike down the monster he had created". You are about to siege William's castle when Sir Grey comes to William's aid. The Bull, which is now your ally because you joined The Hammer and The Hawk, also comes to aid you. Sir Grey and The Bull are killed in the battle. And, after Steele has successfully besieged his castle, William is killed. At last, the King's hiding place is found and you, The Hammer, and The Hawk will besiege his castle. In order to win and gain rule over the country, you will have to reach and kill the King first before the two other Lords do. If you killed The King a cutscene will be shown and you will see The Hammer and The Hawk swearing fealty to Steele (you).
If you follow Sir William, you will have to save The Lamb's Abbey from being captured by The Hawk and The Hammer. Then the King will talk to you. Steele asks where he was in the midst of the war, wherein so much destruction and bloodshed has happened. The King explains to him that he would want to fight for the country but that their country needs a living king. Steele now understands what the King was doing before. Afterwards, William is shown arguing with his brother, The Hawk (who was inside his castle), and tries to convince him to surrender. The Hawk refuses and instead tries to convince William to join him. William also refuses and destroys his bridge (the only passage from his castle's island to the mainland), trapping him and his men. Sir Grey, who failed to save William (who was now trapped in a siege from Sir Hugo Blanc, one of The Hawk's landholders), gives you his prebuilt castle and asks you to continue the rescue. Steele has to save William quickly, before he dies. During the rescue mission, The Hawk will order his men to rebuild the bridge. After Steele saves William he will thank you for saving him for the second time (the first was from Olaf). Then, you will have to kill the three landholders of the Hawk who hold a majority of the estates in the land namely: Sir Hugo Blanc, Lord Beaufort, and Duke De Montparnasse. As you progress, more of The Hawk's bridge is rebuilt. After you kill the three landholders, the bridge is finished too. The Hawk's army approaches your castle but he will not attack at once, instead waiting for The Bull's army to arrive and make a two-pronged attack. When The Bull's army arrives the siege begins. After you eliminate their armies, you will have to besiege The Hawk's castle. The Hawk will be killed in the siege. The Hammer thanks Steele for removing another obstacle between him and the throne . William and Steele are now in the mercy of The Hammer's knights, but suddenly Sir Grey arrives with some help. However, The Hammer fires a bolt of his crossbow into Sir Grey's chest, killing the poor old man. William goes and talks to the King to convince him that he is not a traitor and what his true allegiance is. The King is convinced and the two of them form a bond of trust. In the next mission, the three of you (Steele, William, and the King) will besiege The Hammer's castle. After you breached his defenses and reach him The Hammer finally surrenders. In the final cutscene, The Hammer is seen in a wooden cage with Edwin, suffering as a child throws vegetables at him.
In the Sim campaign, you will first need to build a warning beacon, then before you are knighted, you must look like you are living like a lord. After, due to hot summers, an event will be shown that some of your buildings will be on fire, so build some wells, then you need to rebuild the estate's castle, where you will be evacuated there. Next, one of Sir William's estates have been overwhelmed by wolves, so you need to attack and kill all the wolves, while you defend against outlaws in the east. After that, you need to bring some of your food to William's castle, due to food shortage. Next you need to assault the camp, then you must take control of Sir William's estate, as he is on a crusade. After that, you need to challenge Sir Edwin in making 100 swords, then Edwin will assault Sir Grey's Castle, then you in turn lift the siege, then Sir William will put Edwin in lock and key. Now after it, you need to rebuild Edwin's castle and finally, you need to get lots of food in your kitchen, as the King awaits the feast. The feasts ends with a joust where Sir William is soundly defeated much to everyone's surpirse while Edwin is made a jester for his crime.
The map editor is a user tool that can be used to create entirely new maps from the ground up or even edit old ones. This mode allows the player to have virtually every item or tool that the game developers had while creating maps. The map editor maps can be used to play single player or can be taken online and used. The map editor is a powerful building tool that allows you to build your own maps, scenarios or even your own campaign. You can terraform the land using the mountain tools, or create water and seas. You can build a peaceful level for you to tackle castle life, or build a war campaign to focus on building up you fortifications and the military aspect of medieval life.
On January 4, 2007, a single player demo was released, featuring the tutorial and three missions, equivalent to one chapter. The problems were already patched in the demo making it immune to the majority of bugs and crashes which plagued the original release before the patch.
- "GameRanger - Supported Games". GameRanger. Retrieved 2014-08-23.
- "Stronghold 2 for PC Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More". Metacritic. 2005-04-18. Retrieved 2012-08-07.
- Firefly Studios Official Website
- Stronghold 2 Heaven
- 2K Games Stronghold site
- Stronghold 2 at GameFAQs
- Stronghold 2 at MobyGames
- Stronghold 2 at Metacritic
- Official Polish Stronghold Website