Sherwood Review: Browser Evolution
By Mitchell Daoust (Loric), OnRPG Journalist
Sherwood is a free to play browser-based game hosted by MaidMarian.com. While being hosted for several years, it has grown, evolved, and come to be recognized as a stand-alone MMO. For the “browser junkie,” this game is one you can’t miss; it will deliver many hours of good game play.
Sherwood is a 3D fantasy game. It has superb graphics for a browser game and should be capable of running smoothly on all types of systems. Your character is a warrior who has set out to challenge the Sherwood dungeon, a cavern of infinite depth filled with progressively more difficult monsters as the adventurer proceeds deeper. The game also has a system of islands, each with a different landscape which plays hosts to different types of enemies.
Players are greeted by a simple, easy to follow tutorial which explains all aspects of the game and answers all questions a beginner might have. This system is a large improvement over recent years, as players were once left to discover the world of Sherwood without a guide. Players level traditionally by gaining experience as a result of combat. While this may initially be seen as a drawback, the innovative “endless dungeon” system makes up for any lack of originality. Lack of customization during character creation is certainly a downside. Only a few options are available for change, and they are small variations including armor color, helmet, and gender. Players can, however, change their appearance at any time during game play. This allows players to easily find a look that expresses them best; however, doing this can confuse friends and guild mates.
Combat, unfortunately, feels quite “tacked on” in this game. Simply holding down the crtl key while facing a monster is the majority of the fighting system, and there appears to be no indication as to what decides whether or not an attack is successful. The whole system seems random, which can leave even the easiest of battles up to chance. The “shield” ability is definitely a positive feature. Upon blocking an enemy’s attack, the player’s next successful attack will hit for double its normal damage. Block two attacks? You’ll hit triple the damage, which is the maximum possible. This little bit of strategy can turn any fight around.
The Player-Vs-Player (PVP) combat system is somewhat flawed. In an attempt to eliminate “ganking” (the killing of weak players by stronger players) Sherwood has created a system where the player’s level has no effect upon PVP. While this is a fair system, it somewhat discourages the players drive to level, as someone who just joined the game can defeat one of its best players in a fight. Also, it’s far too tempting just to sit there with your shield up for the entire brawl. A “team” system is in place for PVP, which allows for groups of people to take sides in battles of a larger scale. Teams, however, can be switched anywhere at anytime, so nothing is set in stone. Your allies may very well end up your opponents on the same battlefield.
Armor, a popular feature in many online games, has been left out. Players keep the same set of armor for their entire in-game career and it offers no bonuses toward combat or protection. As stated earlier, only one’s helmet and armor color are customizable. Exploration is one of the most enjoyable aspects of the game. Whether it’s traveling deeper into the dungeon or exploring the multiple islands, players will always be eager to see what’s around the next corner. There are always new surprises waiting to be discovered.
The game controls can make travel difficult, however. For the most part, characters can only travel in straight lines and the camera cannot be easily rotated while moving. This often will cause the player to feel as though they’re wearing, “in-game blinders.”
Equipment is, arguably, far too easy to obtain. During a quest, the player might easily stumble across two or three of the item that serves as a reward for the quest simply by opening two or three chests. A player can easily have a full inventory twenty minutes into the game. The problem is either that equipment is far too abundant, or quest rewards aren’t valuable enough. In the end, it appears to be a mixture of both.
Graphics and Performance
Sherwood has very advanced graphics for a browser-based game. Its landscapes are well designed and give off a wonderful fantasy atmosphere, while the colors are eye-popping and grab your attention immediately. The designs of all the islands are superb, and all of them truly feel like a different land.
Character designs appear a bit awkward at times, however, they are beautifully designed and their actions appear seamless. The actions themselves, though, are very unorthodox. Put simply, your character will not run in a fashion that any warrior should. Much more work could be put into improving this vital animation, as well as idle-character movements. Characters are constantly swaying their arms and turning their heads, which can be quite bothersome.
The game runs quite fast, rarely ever leaving the player sitting behind a loading screen. It’s about as “open world” as a browser game can become, which is indeed a big achievement.
Sherwood started off as a very simple browser game, allowing players to take on the persona of a warrior, run around an island, and do combat with other players and monsters alike. Since it began, however, it has most certainly evolved into a well-founded MMO of its own. It is still being developed and has yet to reach its full potential; however, with the amount of updates this small game has seen over the years it is certain to eventually be popular and one of the best MMOs of our time.
– Excellent landscapes and colors
– Virtually no download time
– Runs well on any system
– Decent Sized Community
– Helpful tutorial for new players.
– Character design and movements can be awkward
– Tedious, simple combat
– Lack of armor
– Traveling can be jumpy at times
– PVP system does not take level into account.