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Build 'em up, knock 'em down
The Stronghold series is a pretty decent set of games which mix of SimCity-style building with real time strategy to mostly decent effect. This Warchest edition is a collection of the first game plus the expansion Stronghold Crusader, and as such makes for a good entry point into the series. The first game is the best place to start obviously, and throws you in the middle of the Crusades. There are two main modes to play through, simulation and invasion, with the former allowing you just to concentrate on the city building aspects, and the latter more combat focused, where you face off against numerous opponents and build up your defenses while trying to topple their castles. The expansion pack allows you to play as Richard the Lionheart or Saladin and presents you with extensive campaigns based around objective-based missions. You've got around 25 different units to play around with, while the desert-based nature of the game means you have to adapt to things like the lack of water and which adds to the challenge and interest. Both games on offer here are actually quite enjoyable. The first one introduces you nicely to the core concept and it's certainly quite a refreshing change to be playing in such an environment. Both modes on offer are entertaining, but in very different ways, and should keep you going for some time. The expansion is quite a different experience but no less enjoyable for that, and offers some more challenging battles. When you add in the effective visuals and slick interface, you have a fine pair of games.