I’m going to start this lame excuse for a blog by talking about the game I have played most of recently. I know it’s a few years old by now but I’ve enjoyed it more than most main steam titles recently.
I bought the entire Mount and Blade series off of the Steam sale a few weeks back. Obviously, I started out playing the original simply called ‘Mount and Blade’ and found it lacking. It was a unique idea handled clumsily before it slipped through their fingers and smashed into a billion pieces onto the hard floor made of crap.
Mount and Blade: Warband is effectively an expansion pack for the original, however unlike most expansions, they just completely re-released the entire game with the extras installed in it and it was a massive improvement.
The unique selling point of Mount and Blade is that you command your company usually of between 50-150 troops. You will fnd yourself attacked by bandits or armies of an opposing faction and have a big battle with you able to jump right into the middle of it and start kicking shins. Kind of like the ‘Kingdom Under Fire’ series, except waaay better.
In the original, all you could really do was join a faction, beat up other factions and take their stuff and aim to conquer the entire map. However, in Warband you have much bigger aspirations. In Warband you can start up your own faction and beat all the other into submission until you are King of everything! You can also get married! I’m a bit of a sucker for marriage and romance in games. Except for the Fable series. The constant whining of my wife used to annoy me. She didn’t seem to understand that I had a big sword and she was a weak feeble woman.
But I digress, let’s get right into the important aspects of the game and discuss gameplay. I actually really enjoy the sword fighting mechanics in the Mount and Blade series. The attack commands are quite pitiful being nothing more than ‘click to swing sword’. Right clicking will use your shield, again pretty standard and tame, but the bit I like is when you are equipped with just a sword.
You have to watch your opponent’s swings and prepare to parry a split second before the swing is to hit you. If you parry too soon you can end up parrying in completely the wrong direction. Too late and you’ll end up with a curious sword shaped piecing in your torso. Of course, you can also fight on horseback, hence the “Mount” part of the title, which is probably my favourite part of the game. You go pelting into the battle on your trusted steed and swing your sword wildly slicing up the enemies a treat. There is nothing more satisfying than going flat out of your horse towards and enemy on foot and swinging your sword perfectly to catch them right on the neck as you zoom passed and see them drop to the floor as you turn for a go at someone else.
However, with every good mechanic, there must be a bad one. For me, the worst part of the game is the bandits you encounter.
Tell me how this makes sense, I am wondering around with a company of about 75 seasoned, hardened troops. The kind of people who have killed hundreds of enemy soldier’s each. Suddenly 60 bandits appear. They have had no training. They are nothing but criminals and wankers. How the heck to they see my military trained troops and say “Yep, we can take them”? And I am always proved right! I smash their troops with minor casualties to my own after about half an hour of fighting, I loot nothing usual from them, so all it ended up doing was delaying my game by half and hour.
The graphics are also poor but then I never seen graphics being important. Put make up and a bow tie on an angler fish and I still wouldn’t want to play with it. The women in this game look incredibly alike, I had to go into edit mode before I was happy to marry one of them. There are several bugs with some NPCs, and on one occasion me, getting trapped in a stone wall. Attacking castles is a right bitch as well with there usually being only one ladder up the walls of the castle and the NPC dumbasses getting stuck at the bottom and/or top and sitting there happily while the enemy archers shoot us all to death.
To summarise then: Mount and Blade was developed as a quick cost effective game so don’t expect fantastic graphics or an in depth complicated plot that will change your life forever. However, the combat is fairly engaging and enjoyable and if you go into it with the right mindset it will suck out all your free time before you realise it.
Games like this should be encouraged. Apart from the Kingdom Under Fire similarities (A game series I LOVED the concept of but never got into) it is one of the few original titles I have come across recently. So if you’re getting bored of all the Call of Duty games and would like something slightly different, I recommend trying out Mount and Blade.
Overall Score: 7/10 – Good but not great.