This curious game is a medieval castle simulator and the player has to consider numerous factors for the castle to grow and prosper. In other words, Stronghold 2 is a management strategy game, even though it allows the player to draw a sword as the castle must be defended against enemies, too.
On the technical side, the game engine supports all rendering modes from Shader Model 1.1 to 3.0. The graphics abounds in small details and cute special effects; the water surface is modeled using pixel shaders. Since ATI cards do not support Shader Model 3.0, they were all tested in the Shader Model 2.0 mode. The GeForce cards all worked in the Shader Model 3.0 mode – this mode doesn’t affect the quality of the game graphics, but maybe it has an effect on the game speed?
Like many other strategies, Stronghold 2 is a highly CPU-dependent game. No wonder as the CPU has to process all the numerous units that appear on the screen at the same time. So we couldn’t get more than 40fps even with our GeForce 7800 GTX. Moreover, the results of the participating cards only differ much in 1600x1200 resolution where the GeForce 6/7 cards (except the GeForce 6600) are generally faster than the RADEON X850/X800/X700 devices.
RADEON and GeForce solutions of the same class have either the same speed in the “eye candy” mode or there’s a small advantage on the GeForce part, again excepting the same GeForce 6600. It seems that the Shader Model 3.0 helps NVIDIA solutions show such good results even with enabled full-screen antialiasing and anisotropic filtering. SLI doesn’t work here: the performance of two cards working in the multi-GPU mode is the same or even slightly worse than that of a single such card.