by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
One problem I can see gamers having with battles is the fact that large scale battles are split into smaller (more manageable) battles. It is possible to enter a conflict alongside your allies with hundreds of troops against a similar sized opponent, but only have forty or so soldiers on each side once the combat begins. Wounded and killed soldiers are then just subtracted from the armies’ totals and the next battle begins until one side is eliminated. This can be a little frustrating, as you don’t have full control over your allies’ troops which in many instances could be the bulk of your compatriots during the combat.
An annoyance was what I call the Glass Wall. More than once when fighting on the battlefield my horse would basically come to a stop and wouldn’t move forward. This wasn’t so bad on a number of occasions, but on those where enemy horsemen were bearing down on my character it was really agonising to be at the mercy of the enemy troops on your tail until your horse could turn around.
Recruiting and party maintenance does play a large part of the game. You won’t be able to do much alone, especially as there is the ever present danger of looters and various bandits, just waiting for lightly defended targets. So you will need to hire some recruits from the small villages or from taverns in the larger towns. Most of the recruits start of raw, but after victorious battles, will be able to be upgraded. You are also able to supply weapons and armour to certain members of your party.
Once you level up – after earning enough experience points – there are a number of proficiencies available to the gamer to help continually improve your party, whether it is in training or healing. These are valuable as it enables you to keep your party strong and together so that you won’t have to continually head back to a village for fresh recruits.
Watching the horizon
Graphically, Mount & Blade is not in the same league as the big budget titles such as Oblivion. Having said that though, the in-battle scenery is stunning. The setting sun over a mountain is an amazing sight, as are the snow covered mountains and trees in the southern regions of Calradia. The landscapes are indeed of a high standard. Weather effects such as rain and fog as well as day and night cycles also make for a more realistic experience.
The same high standards are not met by the visuals on the main map screen. They are extremely out-dated and rather plain. Although you can zoom in and out, the graphics would be comparable to games from ten years ago. This does help to keep the map screen clutter-free though. I did find the character animations a bit stiff too. You do get a fairly detailed character generator prior to beginning a game and the in-game does resemble the created avatar, but the characters seem a bit on the blocky side, as do the horses.
Another issue with the graphics involves arrows. During the combat, it is not uncommon to see an arrow or two sitting in mid air. I’m not sure why this occurs, but it is something that requires attention.
No Pros and Cons at this time