Robin Hood: Defender of the Crown
What a great honour lies upon me, for I am chosen to review this medieval turn-based strategy game and may God’s lightning strike upon me if I do not dare to speak the words, my heart is telling me to. Read this parchment so it can help you in your struggle to elect the greater game for which you are willing to sacrifice your precious savings. Let the review begin.
King Richard The Lionheart is held hostage until a ransom is paid. Prince John declares himself king, but as he is an evil man not suited to rule a country, things get out of hand. Only one man can help the citizens of England: Robin Hood, the outlaw, but the path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tiranny of evil men, so to succeed you will have to complete a lot of tasks all requiring a different skill. You better learn archery, sword fighting, jousting and commanding and strategically position your army because you won’t stand a chance without these proficiencies, luckily there are some nice cinematic tutorials that guide you through the basics before taking on the big guys.
In the beginning the gameplay is very amusing, there are a lot of different new games to discover but after a while everything does get repetitive. The basic thing to do is earn money, which happens automatically by collecting taxes in the areas under your rule, but especially in the beginning that is far from sufficient so you will have to reshuffle some cash and that is done in two mini-games.
The first one is an archery-raid(first person view), you’ll sit in a tree and try to shoot arrows at knights passing by and if you kill them you will be rewarded with the gold they carry. This is not as simple as it seems and sometimes it becomes frustrating. The good thing is that when enemy archers hit you three times, you’ll only have to flee and you will never die or be captured.
Second option is a castle-raid(platform view). The treasure is hidden deep in the well-protected castle and on your way in you will encounter a various amount of knights to be taken out by the sharp edge of your blade but be careful though because once all your health is gone, you’ll get thrown in the dungeon and you will lose precious turns before you’ve managed to get out.
Then there is the matter of jousting, which combines two mini-game style actions. To speed up your horse you’ll have to alternately push L1-button and the L2-button, which I think is the most stupid way to do something, and then you will have to point your lance in first-person view, at your opponent. Each tournament has three rounds, in the first round you can gain fame, in the second gold an in the third a province from your opponent.
With the gold you have earned you will be able to extend your army and you can begin conquering other provinces. The battles are fought on a kind of risk-board but it is boring and not complex enough. Since you have to do this every time you want to conquer land – which is a lot – it is a pity that they didn’t made this more interesting. In a later phase this part can be preceded with a catapult game when there is a stronghold under attack, which is fun and you can increase your odds by reducing the opponents’ force.
The graphics in general are great, the map is magnificent and creates an enchanted sphere. I was really amazed how good it looked, there was just something about it that carried me away. The magnificent artwork had a surprising effect and from the first moment the game menu was shown, I got bedazzled by the background showing a beautiful landscape with a lot of trees. It gets even better when viewing cutscenes; they seem to have come out of a movie, telling epic stories in such a way that you seem to wake up once you stop playing. Now for the action games they have used different styles but everything is 3d, the environments are very nice and except for in the archery-ambush the opponents look alive and detailed.
All the different sound-aspects are good. The voices are great and suit their character, background music fits the time in which the game plays perfectly and by itself it is more than okay. The sound-effects are nice too, especially the one when an arrow comes flying through the three where it is you are hiding in and I liked the way the clattering swords sounds too. There is no option for Dolby Surround, but I gather that is not necessary.
Lovers of Robin Hood or other epic stories will like this one. This game is a combination of different genres and manages to be great for every one. It is not only for hard-core strategy fans, also the lesser uninitiated gamers will know how everything works in a jiffy, but there is enough to do for more experienced players.
All in one this is not a bad game, but it is not great either and if you did not finish it in let’s say ten hours, my guess is you won’t bother to keep playing.
So you won’t be playing for fifty hours, but I think that it lasts just long enough. The graphics are breathtaking, sound is more than okay and the story is well what a medieval epic story should be, some mini-games get boring after a while though.
This game will provide one weekend of fun and took me to my third place, but one weekend is all it has to offer. It is up to you to decide if that is enough for you