Still, scenarios run slowly even when you maximize production speed. You wait, wait, and wait some more whenever gathering and processing resources. This was a huge problem immediately upon release, because the game was launched without any way to fast-forward past those inevitable dull spots where you're stockpiling resources. The ability to adjust speed was patched in well after the game hit shelves, but this handy feature was added without any change to the user interface. So even though you can hit the + and - keys to speed up and slow down the action, you might not realize this is possible unless you read the patch notes.
Artwork during mid-mission cutscenes is so rough that it appears to be nothing but sketches for finished work that was never completed.
Regardless, the gameplay remains problematic. Fast-forwarding comes with its own set of concerns. You might crank the game speed up to expedite some stone gathering back at the base, for instance, but wind up losing the ability to handle combat elsewhere on the map. What seems a good pace for working in the quarry is not nearly as handy when battling packs of wolves or enemy troops, because combat accelerates out of control. Battles turn into such a blur that you can accidentally lose a whole squad or even get your lord killed in the blink of an eye. So you have to be cautious when hitting that + key. In the end, you can't speed things up as much as you would like, so you often wind up stuck on the sluggish default speed and spend more time watching animations of things like wood being chopped in forests, stone being hauled out of quarries, and bread being trotted out of the bakery than you do building your medieval empire. Peasants also amble everywhere when not being fast-forwarded. They never seem to run, even when ordered to take on urgent tasks. Zooming in on peasants at work is incredibly frustrating, because they appear to do little but sit around or aimlessly shuffle back and forth.
Mission design is predictable and repetitive. You do pretty much the same things over and over, and there are no random variables to add in replay value. Finish one mission loaded with building storehouses, granaries, watchtowers, and hovels, and all you do is earn the right to start another mission filled with building the same structures. Goals vary somewhat, but they stick mainly to victory conditions that involve stockpiling set amounts of wood, stone, and wine; killing off enemies; holding out against an enemy assault; and so forth. Map size is a contributing problem. The maps are tiny, leaving you little room for exploration or innovation, which limits your options when it comes to trying anything offbeat. So in addition to constructing the same buildings on every map, you're going through these motions among what might as well be the same small patch of turf.
Warfare isn't satisfying either, for mostly the same reasons. Battles don't have a great deal of depth. You can outfit soldiers with different types of weaponry, making for combined-arms assault troops that work as spearmen, bowmen, and the like, but actual combat comes down to little more than band-selecting masses of troops to hurl them at the enemy castles or lines and then hoping for the best. Foes seem quite overpowered, too, to the point where what should be minor nuisances become scenario-killing monsters. A few wolves can decimate your forces and bring all of your village building to a halt. Dealing with enemy forces is even more daunting, especially on siege maps and in the historical castle missions. They always seem to be both more powerful and more numerous than any troops you can put into the field. As a result, battles seem unfair, and emerging victorious always comes at the end of a long, drawn-out war of attrition that bores you well before it wraps up.
Apothecaries wait around for disease outbreaks. Perhaps they never heard about the whole 'apple a day' thing.
Even though Firefly Studios took the better part of a decade to release Stronghold 3, the developer really needed to work on this one for a fair bit longer. Patches continue to be released in an attempt to improve the game's flaws, however, resulting in improvements to things like game speed and the addition of multiple difficulty settings to address complaints over the tough nature of the scenarios. Still, even with the ongoing work, the game remains afflicted by some serious bugs, a dawdling pace, and a tutorial that does virtually nothing to teach the ins and outs of building a medieval village. At present, it is pretty tough to recommend this trip back to the Middle Ages.