reviews\ Nov 10, 2002 at 7:00 pm

Robin Hood - The Legend of Sherwood - PC - Review

Break out the tights and grab the bow and sword, it’s time to take from the rich and give to the poor.

The mythical hero lives, fights and can be defeated if you are not careful. Robin Hood: The Legend of Sherwood Forest, a PC release from Spellbound and Strategy First, is a tactical real-time strategy game that places game players in the heart of tremendous upheaval and a tenuous time when the throne and fate of a county lie in the balance.

The game is a mission-based foray into the legendary time when the throne of England was usurped by a corrupt brother and his evil henchman, the Sheriff of Nottingham. Robin arrives home to find himself proclaimed a victim of the Crusades, his land stolen and those who would stand up to the injustice labeled criminals and hunted as such. His first task is to locate an old friend (Lord Godwin), who has disappeared thus sending Robin on a journey toward Sherwood Forest.

Because Duke Leopold has Richard the Lion-hearted hostage, and is demanding an enormous ransom, the Sheriff and his cronies have levied heavy taxes against an impoverished nation. Gathering men of courage by his side, it is up to Robin to see that all is set right.

The game does a very nice job of keeping the tone of the times, and marching steadfastly along the timeline that many know so well. But just as important, this program does a very good job of utilizing the skills and derry-do often associated with the time-honored tale.

Into the courtyards of Nottingham, Robin must free those men (including Stuteley, a master craftsman capable of building traps) about to face the gallows. With his sword, bow and courage, he wades through the soldiers, cuts the ropes or releases the stocks and together, the band begins to form the basis of the “merry men.” But once in Nottingham, the way out is fraught with danger. Soldiers line the way, archers, pikes and swords dance in the glare of the sun to deny Robin and his plucky band.

In many regards, this is a grand, albeit linear, adventure. You can’t leave the easy way; you must fight your way to freedom. Often, you must explore the towns you find yourself in. The gates are drawn, but somewhere lays the switch that will lower them.

The first two missions begin either in a castle ground on just outside the gates. After mission two, you can enter Sherwood and each successive mission is launched from there. Each mission team consists of five game characters and players must select which to use in accordance with the type of mission you are on.

Graphically the game is very nice. You can zoom in, but that seems somewhat silly. The graphics tended to pixilate when in extreme close up. Enemies are also color coded so show the difficulty in fighting them – blue is good, black is very bad. And some of those you encounter and must fight to begin with are not the bad guys: they just misunderstand that you are all on the same side.

Of course, what Robin Hood tale would be complete without giving a little to poor? You will find beggars throughout the game and stopping to share a few coins reaps its own rewards.

The game’s mapboards are wonderfully rendered, from the castles to the forest. This game will have avatars climbing vines, jumping on tables to fight, leaping over walls – almost like the Errol Flynn movie come to life.

The vocal acting can be a little tiresome (“he’s so handsome,” whisper the ladies – first time, cool, 10th time it is old), and vocal stylings of Robin are understated. However, the fighting effects and music are very well done.

The game’s AI is also very good. Archers will hide behind shields, and lone soldiers are as likely to run and get help before engaging in a battle. You can use a bow to pick off the enemy, or the sword (and other weapons), or knock them out. If you choose the latter, they will come too, and stars circling above their head will indicate how long they will stay unconscious.

Robin Hood – The Legend of Sherwood is well done, and quite enjoyable. The missions get harder as you progress, and players will be asked to use their brains rather than just blindly wading into battle. Fans of the era, fans of Robin Hood, and fans of tactical combat games will find this game worth notching their bows for.

This game is rated for Teens.

Gameplay: 8.5
The missions launch automatically, and the play, once engaged, is seamless. The maps are a good size and offer diversity of terrain, which is necessary to completion of some of the missions.

Graphics: 8.2
You can zoom into the game, but the graphics pixilate when you do so. The animation is very good, and you can move your characters during a fight to get a better angle and be harder to hit. The game is bright, with lush environments.

Sound: 8
The vocal acting can be a little understated, but the overall sound quality of this game is very good.

Difficulty: Medium
The game sports several difficulty levels to suit most gamers, and the player interface is well designed. The game AI is also very good, and enemies are likely to use some tactical elements against you (such as archers hiding behind shields during their attacks, or using elevation).

Concept: 8.8
The game is very well done. This isn’t Robin’s first foray into the gaming world, and the game isn’t so much about him as the setting but all the elements are in place for an enjoyable gaming experience.

Overall: 8.5
An enjoyable outing in an historic time, Robin Hood offers solid tactical combat and delightful animation. This game looks good and plays well.


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