Stronghold (2001 video game)

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Stronghold
Developer(s)Firefly Studios
Publisher(s)Gathering of Developers[a]
Designer(s)Simon Bradbury
Writer(s)Casimir C. Windsor
Composer(s)Robert L. Euvino
SeriesStronghold
Platform(s)Windows, Mac OS X
ReleaseWindows
Mac OS X
Genre(s)Real-time strategy
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Stronghold is a historical real-time strategy video game developed by Firefly Studios and published in 2001 by Gathering of Developers for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X. The game focuses primarily on conquest and expansion through military pursuits but also has prominent economic and infrastructure development elements. There is both an economic and a military campaign to be played and both are discussed in the game manual. In the English version, the game takes place in Medieval Britain around the year 1066; however, since there is not always a time limit, scenarios can continue hundreds of years beyond that date.

Stronghold was a commercial success, with global sales above 1.5 million units by 2004. As well as earning many favourable reviews from reviewers such as PC Gamer and GameSpy, the game continues to boast a large community, who edit and create various material through the in-game Map Editor/Scenario Creator.[4] The game's popularity led to several sequels: Stronghold: Crusader (2002), Stronghold 2 (2005), Stronghold Legends (2006), Stronghold Crusader Extreme (2008), Stronghold 3 (2011), Stronghold Kingdoms (2012), Stronghold Crusader II (2014), and Stronghold: Warlords (2021). The original game received a high-definition re-release in 2013.[5] A Definitive Edition was announced in July 2023 slated for release in November that year, with updated graphics, voice acting, a new narrative campaign, and integrated multiplayer.

Gameplay[edit]

In Stronghold, the player takes the role of a lord in a medieval kingdom. The goal is to create a stable economy and a strong military to defend against invaders, destroy enemy castles, and accomplish various mission objectives.

Stronghold contains several modes of gameplay, with both combat and economic missions. The main game mode is the military campaign, which is based upon a map of England and Wales. The backstory to the campaign explains that the king was captured and held for ransom while invading a neighboring barbarian kingdom. Four lords take control of the kingdom, dividing it into their personal territories. The player is represented by a young, inexperienced commander whose father is killed in an ambush by one of the villains. He is helped by two lords who remain loyal to the king. The player must regain control of the kingdom by reconquering counties from rival lords one by one. The player has to defeat each of the four lords in the campaign, receiving help from the king once he has been successfully ransomed mid-game. An economic campaign is set after the main campaign in which the player reconstructs parts of the kingdom. The player is given goals to complete against a variety of obstacles, such as bandits and fire.

Other game modes are single-mission combat and economic scenarios, where the player has to complete either military or economic goals. A siege mode is also included in the game, where the player may attack or defend several historical castles. Free build mode is another game mode; here the player has the option of building a castle without any objectives. More scenarios can be created for the game using the in-game map editor.

Combat[edit]

Stronghold does not use a rock paper scissors system for game balance, instead opting for a "soft-counter" system.

Combat in Stronghold is based on a strength and hit point system. There are a variety of unit types in the game, with each successive unit being stronger, and hence more expensive, than the preceding unit, in general. Even though the expensive units are stronger in combat, all units have abilities that are necessary to defend the castle, both melee units (such as the basic spearman and the stronger swordsman), and ranged units (such as archers). The game also contains support troops such as engineers, who provide additional combat options such as constructing siege engines. Unlike some other strategy games there are no counters for units, and units do not take up space, allowing them to overlap each other. Several non-combat characters can fight against enemy units, although most have no ability to fight. Injured soldiers remain injured for the rest of the game—there is no healing system—and since the lord is the central figurehead of the player's kingdom, despite being a powerful fighter, the game is automatically lost if he dies.

Simulated fire[edit]

Fire plays a main role in the Stronghold storyline, as in certain missions, igniting pitch is almost necessary for survival. There are also certain trigger events that can start fires. Fires spread very quickly, and a flaming building can ignite people or other buildings. Fires will only go out if all sources of fuel are consumed, or if the fire itself is extinguished by fire watches. Fires can spread over small boundaries of water.

In most RTS games, fire appears on buildings as an indicator of damage; for example, if a building is damaged enough it might catch fire, though it may not necessarily sustain damage from that fire. In some games, such as StarCraft, some buildings damaged to a certain extent will catch fire and continue to take damage from it until they are repaired or the fire destroys them. In Stronghold, buildings that are damaged by siege weapons or are torn down will not catch fire; instead, they lose hit points until they collapse, with the indication of damage being visible signs of cracks and damage throughout the building. However, boiling oil pots, if destroyed, will start a small fire where they were built.

Contrary to many RTS titles where fire plays a secondary, "eye candy" role, fire in Stronghold is an actual gameplay element. For instance, the player is subtly encouraged to build wells against enemies that like to use fire attacks.

Map editor[edit]

An in-game map editor was included with the game. Rather than incorporating a proprietary scripting language, the editor has a WYSIWYG interface designed for use by all users.

HD re-release[edit]

In 2013, an updated version of the game was released on Steam, featuring support for modern operating systems, higher resolutions, and Steam cloud saves.[5] Some gameplay has been tweaked in the newer version, such as an increased unit cap and a battlefield view that allows the player to view the full map from a distance. The game was released for free on GOG.com for a brief time in 2017, packaged with the 1996 game A.D. 2044.[6][7]

Definitive Edition[edit]

In 2023, a definitive edition of the game was released on Steam, featuring updated visuals, new campaigns, multiplayer support, Steam workshop support and much more.

Development[edit]

The game was announced in November 2000.[8] The title went gold on October 17, 2001.[9]

Reception[edit]

Sales[edit]

Stronghold was a commercial success, with global sales of 1.5 million units by 2004.[10] It received a "Silver" signification from the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA)[11] for at least 100,000 copies sold in the United Kingdom.[12]

On Media Control's sales chart for the German market, Stronghold launched at #1 among computer games for the month of October 2001.[13] The Verband der Unterhaltungssoftware Deutschland (VUD) presented it with a "Gold" award in late 2001,[14] indicating sales of at least 100,000 units across Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.[15] By the end of the year, the committee had upgraded it to a "Platinum" status, indicating 200,000 sales.[16] Stronghold remained in Media Control's top 30 consistently through May 2002, placing 14th that month and 10th in April.[17] After a 19th-place finish in June, it dropped to 27th in July, while the new Stronghold Deluxe edition debuted that month at #12.[18] Deluxe proceeded to place seventh and 13th in August and September 2002, respectively.[19]

In the United States, Stronghold debuted at #6 on NPD Intelect's computer game sales rankings for the week of October 21.[20] Holding the position in its second week,[21] it placed 15th for the month of October overall.[22] It was absent from NPD's weekly top 10 by its third week of release.[23] Stronghold ultimately sold 220,000 copies and earned $7.8 million in the United States by August 2006. At the time, this led Edge to declare it the country's 95th-best-selling computer game released since January 2000.[24]

"At launch Stronghold: Definitive Edition became a critical and commercial success for Firefly Studios. It topped the Global Top Sellers chart as one of Steam's Top Selling Games of November 2023, with over 100,000 sales in the first 72 hours. The game garnered a 'Very Positive' Steam user score, the highest Metacritic rating in the Stronghold series and most Steam concurrents with nearly 10,000 CCUs at launch."[25]

Reviews[edit]

Carla Harker reviewed the PC version of the game for Next Generation, rating it three stars out of five, and stated that "Both sim and strategy players will find something to like in Stronghold, whether it's a long military campaign or just creating the largest, most well-run castle ever."[36]

The game received "favorable" reviews according to the review aggregation website Metacritic.[26] The graphics were praised by a number of reviewers; GameSpot said of the graphics, "The buildings look good, but not great, and the same can be said of the units", adding that "The animations are well done."[32] IGN disagreed to a degree, saying "Animations are a bit choppy", and commented on the overall state of the graphics: "This isn't the prettiest game ever by a longshot, but it's good enough that your eyes won't burn."[35] GameZone gave high praise to the graphics, saying that the environments were "wonderful" and commenting on the good animation of the characters.[34]

GameSpot noted that the "Soundtrack is dramatic."[32] GameSpy was neutral on its review of sound, saying that "...the music is nice, if not especially memorable", but also commenting on the "poor voice acting."[33]

Stronghold was a nominee for Computer Gaming World's 2001 "Best Strategy Game" award, which ultimately went to Kohan: Immortal Sovereigns. The editors called Stronghold "extraordinarily creative and unique".[38]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Mac OS X port published by MacSoft.

References[edit]

  1. ^ I. G. N. Staff (2001-10-22). "Stronghold Ships". IGN. Retrieved 2023-05-05.
  2. ^ "2D Stronghold Versions". Stronghold Knights. June 4, 2005. Archived from the original on February 10, 2011. Retrieved January 16, 2011.
  3. ^ "MacSoft to ship Stronghold on May 21". Macworld. Retrieved 2023-05-05.
  4. ^ "Download Central". Stronghold Heaven. Archived from the original on 2017-07-08. Retrieved 2008-04-13.
  5. ^ a b "Stronghold HD | Fanatical". www.fanatical.com. Archived from the original on 2020-09-22. Retrieved 2020-09-16.
  6. ^ Tarason, Dominic (24 October 2017). "Stronghold HD: Free with every meninist fever-dream". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Archived from the original on 2018-03-30. Retrieved 2020-09-16.
  7. ^ "Stronghold HD". GOG.com. Archived from the original on 2020-09-03. Retrieved 2020-09-17.
  8. ^ "FireFly Studios and Gathering of Developers Announce Stronghold". godgames.com. November 16, 2000. Archived from the original on April 28, 2001. Retrieved April 16, 2022.
  9. ^ IGN (October 17, 2001). "Stronghold Gold". IGN. Archived from the original on December 15, 2001. Retrieved April 16, 2022.
  10. ^ van Autrijve, Rainier (December 2, 2004). "Stronghold 2 (Preview)". GameSpy. IGN Entertainment. Archived from the original on February 7, 2005. Retrieved August 28, 2017.
  11. ^ "ELSPA Sales Awards: Silver". Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association. Archived from the original on February 21, 2009.
  12. ^ Caoili, Eric (November 26, 2008). "ELSPA: Wii Fit, Mario Kart Reach Diamond Status In UK". Gamasutra. UBM plc. Archived from the original on September 18, 2017. Retrieved September 18, 2017.
  13. ^ "Zeitraum: Oktober 2001" (in German). Verband der Unterhaltungssoftware Deutschland. Archived from the original on November 12, 2001. Retrieved October 27, 2021.
  14. ^ "VUD-SALES-AWARDS November / Dezember 2001". Verband der Unterhaltungssoftware Deutschland (in German). November–December 2001. Archived from the original on June 18, 2003. Retrieved July 22, 2018.
  15. ^ Horn, Andre (January 14, 2004). "VUD-Gold-Awards 2003". GamePro Germany (in German). Archived from the original on July 18, 2018.
  16. ^ "VUD Sales Awards: Dezember 2001" (Press release) (in German). Verband der Unterhaltungssoftware Deutschland. December 31, 2001. Archived from the original on February 17, 2003. Retrieved October 27, 2021.
  17. ^ "Zeitraum: Mai 2002" (in German). Verband der Unterhaltungssoftware Deutschland. Archived from the original on June 15, 2002. Retrieved October 27, 2021.
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  20. ^ Walker, Trey (November 7, 2001). "Asheron's Call Dark Majesty ousts Camelot". GameSpot. Archived from the original on December 14, 2001. Retrieved October 27, 2021.
  21. ^ Walker, Trey (November 14, 2001). "Civilization III takes first and second place". GameSpot. Archived from the original on December 13, 2001. Retrieved October 27, 2021.
  22. ^ Walker, Trey (November 29, 2001). "Hot Date holds off Harry Potter". GameSpot. Archived from the original on December 2, 2001. Retrieved October 27, 2021.
  23. ^ Walker, Trey (November 21, 2001). "Humongous takes the lead". GameSpot. Archived from the original on November 23, 2001. Retrieved October 27, 2021.
  24. ^ Edge staff (August 25, 2006). "The Top 100 PC Games of the 21st Century". Edge. Future plc. Archived from the original on October 17, 2012.
  25. ^ "Firefly Studios". fireflyworlds.com. Retrieved 2024-01-24.
  26. ^ a b "Stronghold for PC Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on August 28, 2018. Retrieved July 23, 2018.
  27. ^ Allen, Christopher. "Stronghold - Review". AllGame. All Media Network. Archived from the original on November 15, 2014. Retrieved July 23, 2018.
  28. ^ Sones, Benjamin E. (January 8, 2002). "Stronghold". Computer Games Magazine. theGlobe.com. Archived from the original on February 7, 2003. Retrieved July 23, 2018.
  29. ^ Wilson, Johnny L. (February 2002). "Stronghold" (PDF). Computer Gaming World. No. 211. Ziff Davis. pp. 78–79. Archived (PDF) from the original on July 5, 2020. Retrieved July 23, 2018.
  30. ^ Bye, John "Gestalt" (November 1, 2001). "Stronghold". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Archived from the original on December 4, 2001. Retrieved July 23, 2018.
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  33. ^ a b Harker, Carla (November 12, 2001). "Stronghold". GameSpy. IGN Entertainment. Archived from the original on February 6, 2005. Retrieved July 23, 2018.
  34. ^ a b Lafferty, Michael (November 2, 2001). "Stronghold Review". GameZone. Archived from the original on May 3, 2009. Retrieved April 10, 2009.
  35. ^ a b Adams, Dan (October 26, 2001). "Stronghold". IGN. Ziff Davis. Archived from the original on July 23, 2018. Retrieved July 23, 2018.
  36. ^ a b Harker, Carla (January 2002). "Finals". Next Generation. Vol. 5, no. 1. Imagine Media. p. 93.
  37. ^ Preston, Jim (January 2002). "Stronghold". PC Gamer. Vol. 9, no. 1. Future US. p. 70. Archived from the original on March 15, 2006. Retrieved July 23, 2018.
  38. ^ CGW staff (April 2002). "Games of the Year: The Very Best of a (Sometimes) Great Year in Gaming (Best Strategy Game)" (PDF). Computer Gaming World. No. 213. Ziff Davis. pp. 78–79. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 31, 2016. Retrieved July 23, 2018.

External links[edit]