Robin Hood: The Legend of Sherwood review
Robin Hood: The Legend of Sherwood is puzzle-based real-time-strategy (RTS) game and is essentially the sequel to Spellbound's previous title of the same genre, Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive. Both titles, like the Commandos series, see you taking control of groups of individual people (rather than the mass of units in C&C) in order to carry out the mission's tasks.
The main star of the game, of course, is Robin Hood, and you begin the game by taking control of this old English hero. The game stays true to the legend, with a storyline which does not break the twelfth-century feel of the game. Each character you control specialises in a particular area, and this is where one of the faults of the game (and often other games in the genre) lie. Because each character is assigned to a certain task, there is often a certain sense of frustration when you want to get something done. In order for task A to be carried out, you need a character who specialises in field A, and out of the people who you control (specialising, as they do, in fields A, B, C, and Y) only one of them is useful in that task. What does this is mean? Well, firstly you have to keep your men together – leave on guy on other side of a map, and you may find yourself waiting for him to reach you before you can make any progress. There is also an extra risk of failure if he gets caught – the other characters are useless to helping out, despite their other abilities. It is a strange concept that characters cannot do more than one type of task, but one that has dogged many RTS games, particularly the puzzle-based ones.
Controlling characters is not particularly intuitative or effective. This is largely down to the nature of the 2D engine, but also the requirement to click on items such as weapons, in the bottom-left hand corner before being able to use them. I would rather have a Sims-style presentation, where I am presented with choice of what I can to or at an object when I click on it. Reactions to clicking can sometimes be a bit slow, and trying to navigate in and out of interior areas can often prove a nightmare. Rushing from the top-right door to the bottom of the building often requires you to manage to find a door hidden by the viewpoint, click on it, then trying to quickly find another door to click on for your character to come out of there.
Graphically Robin Hood: The Legend of Sherwood is a bit mixed. It feature rather flat 2D visuals, and cannot compare to the likes of 3D RTS titles, C&C: Generals or Warcraft III. That said, the level of detail in this 2D world is rather impressive – particular on buildings and backdrops, but this beauty is lost with pixilation when zooming in.
So far things are sounding pretty negative, but there are some good aspects to the game. Firstly, the missions are quite open-ended, providing a more freedom to the campaign experience than other puzzle RTS games. The missions do this by choice of which mission to take, and the different methods you can use to complete a level; stealth or combat. Talking of combat, this is another great feature to the game; unlike its genre counterparts, Robin Hood allows one-on-one conflicts with enemies in swordfights, offering more ways to take on your foes. Another interesting, and unique, feature is the ability to gain Merry Men (people who help Robin) by sparing the lives of enemies, and taking them back to the forest. Those left behind may become allies if you help them, and in return they can provide you were helpful goods. One last good feature is the sound; although the voice acting is not brilliant, the soundtrack is fully appropriate to the theme of the game and complements it well.
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