Brace yourselves for a lenghty rant-sort-of-review.
Or just scroll down and read the summary.
Being a fan of the original Stronghold and Stronghold Crusader, it makes me sad to report that this game does not continue in the right path that was set by those two games.
The worst thing about this game are not bad visuals, glitches, unbalanced and unfair skirmish trails or even the opposing lords with paper-thin personalities (yes, even when compared to the older games' lords). The worst thing about this game is that it is not fun. Even if you're a veteran player like myself, who really tried to like the game, you have a high chance of wasting your money on this product.
Why is it not fun?
First of all, the "castle-sim" aspect that was the best thing Stronghold series had to offer is gone. Forget about witty comments when you click on your peasants, forget about fear factor and any kind of happiness management. All you have left is ale and religion, and population management was simplified so its only real purpose is to increase your taxation.
Second thing, the AI cheats. Literally. Stronghold Crusader was a hard but fair game. But this game will make you drop it when you realize how unfair it is. The sieges have been dumbed down to massive tank rushes (btw, no more ladders, siege towers and tunnelers). You think crippling the enemy's economy and destroying key structures used in building the army will stop him from recruiting more troops? Think again. The AI will always pull out more soldiers, even when you destroy their barracks, armory and mercenary post. Oh, and they get walls, siege engines and weapons for free.
Technical side of the game is not much better. The graphic quality would barely pass in 2007, and the engine is poorly optimized so expect severe FPS drops unless you have a monster machine. The FPS tends to drop the most during sieges, as there tend to be hundreds of soldiers, and a lot of wall demolishing.
Stronghold Crusader 2 is a bad game, whether you're a veteran of the franchise or a total newcomer.
If you want a superb castle-sim, with plenty of humour, good AI, interesting opponents, great art style and 2d graphics and compact and fair gameplay - play Stronghold Crusader HD. This game will not satisfy you, unless you're ready to overlook the game's many problems. But beware, there's not much else to see.