When this game first came out, I played it incessantly. It was clear from the beginning that the devs put a lot of nuance and original thought in this game. The campaign is really fun and brings a lighthearted story as you build your castle and prevent it from being overrun.
The music is excellent and brings an authentic mood and flavour to this game, as does the voice acting.
The graphics are dated but as a medieval castle sim they aren't a drawback. The HD rerelease adds very little to it, however.
As I'm sure the publisher found out this game proved to be successful and they released a string of games in this series. Quite honestly the move to 3D didn't do much and actually took away from the authentic feeling that came with this game. I didn't find the 3D graphics that good in the 2nd stronghold. The crusader series was equally interesting and unique and the Crusader Extreme release was insanely frustrating and crazy what with the AI rushes.
The only maddening thing about this game is that sometimes it is difficult to accurately gauge where to build stone for your castle wall. You sometimes need to draw down the wall option to allow you to see the ground, because I have spent hours building a castle only to have it overrun in seconds because the enemy AI ran through a small breach that was otherwise undetected. Other than that a very good game overall. Sad to see that the franchise has not improved over time...