Strategy First was kind enough to bring its upcoming strategy game Robin Hood by the GameSpot offices recently, and we got an up-close look at it. Robin Hood is currently in development at Spellbound, the creator of Desperadoes. The game is based on the traditional English folklore of Robin Hood and his band of merry men, who defended the rights of the poor and oppressed during the reign of Prince John. The game is a real-time tactical game that bears some resemblance to the games in the Commandos series, since you'll be able to control several characters--each with different special abilities--at once. For instance, Robin himself has the ability to climb walls, jump, bludgeon (and stun) enemies from behind, and shoot arrows. He can also fight with a sword using the game's mouse-driven sword-fighting system, which lets you trace a pattern in the air with your mouse that your characters will follow with their swords. In the early stages of the game, enemies will generally be too inexperienced to defend against simple patterns, but later on in the game, players will need to use more complex patterns against tougher enemies.
Robin Hood will have story-driven missions, much like the Commandos games, though players will actually be able to choose which missions they'd like to undertake next. Also, between missions, players will retire to Sherwood Forest, where their characters can train to become better at archery and sword fighting and can also stage ambushes along the forest roads. Since Robin Hood and his group are so familiar with the forest, they'll be able to fire arrows at traps hidden in trees, triggering large nets that will scoop up soldiers or drop a group of Robin's gang onto tax collectors. When players seize gold, they can use it to bribe townspeople to help Robin and his men in missions--for instance, a bribed peasant might distract enemy soldiers while Robin sneaks past. However, the game will also have an overarching ransom amount for King Richard the Lionheart. Robin must rescue King Richard by collecting enough gold to pay his way back to England.
Visually, Robin Hood calls to mind the detailed 2D environments of Baldur's Gate II. The game has plenty of ambient animations and effects, such as running water and swaying trees, to help bring its 40 missions to life.
Robin Hood is currently scheduled for release at the end of this year.