|Mount & Blade: Warband|
|Genre||Medieval Action RPG|
|Buy from Amazon|
I enjoy medieval RPGs. I mean, the majority of games I play - fantasy or not - are based in that setting. There's just something about slicing my enemies up with swords that's just completely satisfying. So when I got to play a few minutes of Mount and Blade: Warband, I knew I'd desperately want more.
What? You haven't heard of this masterpiece from Taleworlds? That's okay, there wasn't a whole lot of advertising, and the original Mount and Blade was made by a married couple virtually by themselves. It's not exactly common that things like this happen.
I played the original briefly, and it was fun, but the overhauled Warband made vast improvements over its predecessor.
So, what is it? Well, it's massive and somewhat complicated, but I shall attempt to explain. Mount and Blade: Warband is a medieval role-playing game that puts you into the world of Calradia, a land filled with several kingdoms, all wanting to unify the land under their rule.
The overhead system is a great way for you to see how much of a mess Calradia really is. Each kingdom has its own color, and when you zoom out all the way and take a peek at the map, you'll notice that there are six kingdoms fighting over the land.
So you choose what kind of character you are, and you'll talk with a merchant who will teach you a little about the game and let you earn some gold before a disaster strikes and you have to help a town take up arms against corrupt guards. After that, you'll be out on your own.
The story is almost non-existent, which is especially rare for an role-playing game. But this RPG is focused much more on the combat, which is where this game shines brighter than any other RPG I've ever played.
You can quest, which is basically doing favors for other characters. They're not that important unless you want certain people to like you to possibly betray their king, or become a lord in their kingdom.
The first thing to note about the combat is also to note about the game itself, this isn't a fantasy game. There's no magic; there is just archery, swordsmanship and horsemanship. There's nothing else, but trust me when I say that this game is much more in game than it appears on paper.
The second thing to note about the combat is that it is real time, in either a first person or third person perspective that is done much better than any game I've played to date, this includes games like Oblivion. The combat is far more realistic than any other game I played, and far more difficult when you start playing on the harder difficulties. Shields break, you can die easily if you're not incredibly rich and of a high level. Tactics come into play in a way that's more true-to-life than any other game I've played. What do I mean by that? Well, just try charging a line of pikes with your cavalry and see what happens.
The third thing is, and this is what I think really sets the game on the map, is the realistic mounted combat. In other games with horses, they're simply transportation. However, in Mount and Blade: Warband, they're a necessity to fight a well-planned battle, especially against a larger force. A single cavalry can defeat numerous swordsmen, which seems unfair, until arrows start hitting you from every direction. In addition, soldiers can carry more than one weapon, meaning that the cavalry might just get speared and die.
This game has almost everything a real-time RPGer would want in a game.
The controls in Warband are fantastic. You slightly turn the camera, then click to attack. Right-clicking either blocks with a shield, or auto-blocks a current attack with a weapon. But there's a catch if you're only using a weapon: If your attacker is preparing to do an overhead strike, and you block accordingly, he can feint his attack and change its direction. Unless the person blocking reblocks, he'll be hit. While this seems difficult, when you're playing, it doesn't take long to gain fluidity.
This is one huge downside to this game. The graphics are what you'd expect in the later years on the last generation consoles, such as the Gamecube. There's really nothing to write home about, and while it's disappointing that it isn't as beautiful as most modern games today, when you are on the battlefield with 149 other characters, you'll understand why it's just not that much of a priority.
Fun Factor: 10
This game is almost endlessly fun, if you enjoy this genre. This is one of the most entertaining games I've played in awhile. It consumes hours of my time, and my wife curses it. Playing this game has reminded me that it only requires a few well executed mechanics to make a game fantastic.
Mount and Blade plays extremely well, but the graphics are a bit of an eyesore. Perhaps I'm simply spoiled on new generation graphics, but the lack of beauty physically is easily ignored with the mechanic beauty that you experience.
All this fun can be had for $29.99 on Steam. Get it, and play. I apologize for the shortness of this review, but I've got things to do... medieval things.