Robin Hood: The Legend of Sherwood Review
If you've ever played the game Desperados, then Robin Hood will seem a little familiar to you. Desperados was a real-time strategy game that emphasized stealth and teamwork over combat. Each of the levels in Desperados played out as a puzzle, with a definite solution to each. Straying from the developers' intended path would result in detection by the enemy, which meant certain death and failure of the mission. Robin Hood is developed by the same team, but the game is more than Desperados set in Merry Olde England. The gameplay has undergone some changes that give you more leeway when completing the missions, and also makes it possible for you to fight your way out of a jam.
|Robin, Friar Tuck, and a few of their friends hit the town.|
Robin Hood is a squad-based strategy game that puts you in the role of Robin Hood. You will be given the chance to select a few of the Merry Men to join you as you rob from the rich, fight injustice, and in general make things difficult for King John. The missions take place in real-time in the towns and country surrounding Lincoln and Sherwood Forest. Opposing you are the town guards and knights loyal to King John, who would be perfectly happy putting an end to Robin's life rather than going through the bother of arresting him. The guards in the game will be going about their business patrolling city streets, manning castle ramparts, and, well, guarding things. They're aware of their surroundings, and will react to mysterious noises or the sight of men in tights running through the streets of their town. Since they are often wise enough to go running for help rather than trying to fight Robin man to man, it is best to stay out of sight unless you foolhardily want to take on the town's entire garrison.
Each member of your team has a set of special skills to aid you in avoiding or disabling guards. Robin himself can fire arrows with great accuracy, knock guards unconscious after sneaking up on them, or toss a bag of coins on the ground causing greedy guards to fight over the booty. Other Merry Men can whistle to distract guards, move unconscious bodies to more out of the way locations, or cast nets to capture several guards at once, among other things. Should you find yourself cornered by a vigilant guard, the game will let you fight your way out of the jam. One on one, Robin and most of the Merry Men can take on an individual guard but it is best to avoid combat when possible. First of all, the injuries that occur will eventually wear your men down. Secondly, the action will often alert other nearby enemies who will run and summon help. Fighting patrol after patrol is certain to bring a premature end to your game, especially since the patrols are often led by much tougher commanders. Finally, the game remains true to the spirit of Robin's work, and you'll score higher on the missions by taking as few lives as possible.
The fighting in the game is pretty simplistic. Battles are always initiated by the guards, and when one of your men is attacked he will switch to fighting mode. Your options at this point are either to run away or to click on the man you wish to attack. Combat is then automatic, and you are essentially a spectator as the battle plays out. Battles take a surprisingly long time to complete, as it seems that the two combatants spend most of their time missing each other. This provides another motivation for avoiding combat - you'll want to spend as little time as possible watching long swordfights play themselves out.
For the most part, the AI in the game is pretty good. The guards have fields of vision and can hear nearby noises, so they will investigate your actions should you get a little too careless. They display pretty competent situational awareness, reactinbg to bodies they find, running guards, and panicked civilians. The cones of vision are a little on the short side though, and it seems odd that a guard won't react to a swordfight taking place on the other side of a square.