Get out your metal gloves, sharpen your broadsword and polish your helmet: We're about to get a bit medieval.
Stronghold: Legends, the latest installment in the medieval castle-building sim franchise, is a little less about maintenance and more about real-time strategies and colorful skirmishes than its predecessors.
There are now a few extra minions who can break down castle barriers and a whole array of mythical creatures to control including the frosty forces of Siegfried and Dietrich, the creepy creatures of Count Vlad Dracul (aka Vlad the Impaler or Count Dracula) and King Arthur's magical knights and merry minions of Camelot.
Other improvements include rebalanced archers so they are no longer invulnerable at a distance, more maps, more missions, the ability to shut down individual buildings to save resources, more multiplayer modes and a Chicken function that lets you skip particularly difficult missions - if your pride can handle it.
You'll still have to properly plop down buildings to build up resources, keep the taxes low and your minions housed, fed and happy, though this go ‘round you won't need to worry about waste management facility or the jail. Cranky peasants can revolt and skip town, however, making it difficult to build an army big enough to kill a dragon.
All three terrain types - dreary Transylvania, icy Germany and forest-y Camelot - can also be mixed together in the Map Editor, offering a somewhat lengthy and complicated, yet surprisingly fun, diversion.
Where Stronghold 2 had a fairly unchallenging AI, Legends' revitalized AI is a little too adept at quickly gathering resources and mounting particularly pesky attacks. It's a frustrating factor after the first few missions, resulting in many disheartening defeats.
The camera controls make viewing the battlefield very easy although zooming in on the action isn't always rewarding since the smaller characters are a bit chunky and possibly easier to control from a distance. Lucky for us the larger creatures and their magical attacks look great at every size.
If you have the patience you'll eventually progress far enough use really cool creatures instead of being their victim. Expect to admit defeat pretty early and often, restarting many missions to rebuild your fortress better, stronger and more economical than before.
Otherwise, head right to the customizable skirmishes and maximize all the resources. It will prove far less challenging but you will get to immediately launch massive raids and immediately use all the powerful attacks. Of course the most powerful attacks come with a hefty price, either a lack of that character's speed, time-restricted use or simply a lot of gold and resources to purchase.
Legends has plenty of fun and impressive moments, such as winged creatures roping flaming bombs on your head and a slow and crotchety Merlin complaining about his aching bones while zapping foes with lightning bolts.
It may take a pretty thick suit of armor to fully embrace Legends but if you can stomach many, many defeats you'll be rewarded with the particle-laden powers of witches, wizards, magical nights and fire-breathing dragons.