Robin Hood: The Legend of Sherwood

a game by Spellbound Interactive, and Strategy First
Platform: PC
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See also: RTS Games

Commandos was one of the biggest hits ever in Germany, so it’s not surprising that they've turned the hard-as-nails puzzle-based strategy gameplay into an industry of its own, started by developer Spellbound and its excellent game Desperados. But building a Commandos-type game around cowboys is one thing; it’s quite another to do the same with Robin Hood.

Thankfully, this Robin is more Errol Flynn than Kevin Costner, and the game’s colourful design and light-heartedness give it a certain charm. The concept works rather well, despite the obvious lack of guns, with the bow and arrow working as some sort of sniper rifle and a greater emphasis on hand to hand combat. To make this close-range combat a more integral part of the gameplay, you can perform different types of sword swing by making shapes with your mouse. But this is still a highly tactical puzzle game where, as always, a tremendous amount of patience is required to get past even the earliest levels.

Men In Tights

The amount of detail is as exhaustive as ever, and you’re constantly learning new things you can do, ways to manipulate the environment and abilities to exploit. You can distract soldiers by throwing bags of money, disguise a character as a beggar, lure enemies into traps, distract them with whistles and so on. It’s entertaining in a devilishly frustrating kind of way, as you constantly try to find ways to get past impossible situations.

The problem is, since Desperados came out, we’ve had the fabulous Commandos 2, which has catapulted this minigenre into a whole new realm of detail, fun and immersion. By comparison, Robin Hood feels restrictive and dated.

The biggest sticking point is that, once you’ve gotten used to Commandos 2’s 3D camera, which allows you to turn the map 360 degrees and see behind buildings, Robin Hood's 2D approach seems like a massive step backwards. Not least because there are times when you genuinely feel like seeing what’s behind that barn, when seeing the world from a different angle would make things much easier. And, unlike C2, most doors don’t lead to interiors, but instead act as hiding places.

Free And Merry

There are some distinctive touches, such as the Sherwood base of operations you return to after each mission, where you can train your merry men (each of which has a simple combat stat) and collect the resources you need in your adventures (stones, apples, arrows and so on). And you can hand-pick who you take with you on each adventure, which gives you a greater feeling of freedom and control than you sometimes get in Commandos 2. But somehow, the whole swords and arrows approach falls short of World War II scenarios or cowboy shoot-outs, and Robin Hood ends up being a minor if amusing chapter in the hardest of all genres.

Download Robin Hood: The Legend of Sherwood

PC

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Game Reviews

Following the astounding global success of Commandos in 1998, German developer Spellbound had a brief period of success making unsubtle clones of the World War II puzzler in different historical settings. First they gave us the Wild West larks of Desperados, then the sylvan charms of Robin Hood: Legend Of Sherwood - now available for a paltry fiver.

And while this is perhaps the least successful of the Commandos clones, it's also the one that departs most clearly from the original blueprint, with its bows and arrows, mouse-driven swordplay and permanent base camp. It's just as tough and frustrating as any of its ilk, and still offers plenty of playability; the only problem being that it's far from the best in its class. The vastly superior Commandos 2 is now available for the same price, as is the moderately superior Desperados, making this a dubious choice no matter the cost. Still, it's a decent game and should not be dismissed outright.

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