by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
Giddy Up, Horsey
Mount & Blade is an action Role Playing style game set in the medieval land of Calradia. Sounds just like any number of RP games out in the market, doesn’t it. The main thing that separates this title from other RPGs is, as the title suggests, the ability to use mounts (horses). Sure there are other RPGs (or even MMORPGs) that allow the gamer to use horses or another form of vehicle, but the use of this transportation has largely been a way to get from one location to another in a shorter period of time. In Mount & Blade, apart from using your trusted steed to get from place to place, you also get to sit atop your horse whilst in combat.
The back story of the game revolves around the medieval land of Calradia, which has been sent into turmoil with five factions warring over the land. Mount & Blade is very much an open ended game, in a similar vein to Sid Meier’s Pirates. You start out with just yourself and your horse and can either support or attack each of the various competing factions or indeed, the game can be played without combat at all, but as a trading game – much like the aforementioned Pirates.
Of course, siding with at least one of the five opposing forces certainly benefits the gamer for a couple of reasons. Firstly, being friendly with a particular group allows quests to be performed on behalf of the Lords of that realm. Secondly, being friendly with a nation makes recruiting much easier.
Yes, my lord
There are a variety of quests which are asked of the gamer. Quests include delivery runs – deliver a letter to Lord X in a some distant town – quests involving collection of taxes from a town on behalf of a lord, rescuing maidens, hunting down murderers and other criminals and even acquisition of livestock or other food for a starving village. All the quests earn a certain amount of experience points, which are required to level-up. But the best way of earning experience in game involves combat.
There are two types of combat in which you can gain experience: the Tournaments held at certain castles or in land battles. The tournaments and melee fights definitely help the gamer to learn the ropes of attack and defensive techniques. There is a tutorial that does show how everything works, but nothing is better than putting the learning into practice at the tournaments and melee fights. The melees are comparable to the gladiatorial contests held in the Colosseum in ancient Rome. A group of forty men are thrust into the arena to see who will be the last standing. Denari (the game’s currency) and experience is earned for killing opponents – the better you perform, the more you receive.
Battles, especially while you are on horseback, are fun to take part in. You have combat control over your character, but can issue orders to the rest of your party via a list of commands (such as follow, charge and hold position). If your party consists of a variety of soldier types (archers, foot soldiers, cavalry), these can be issued orders separately, making for a more tactical battle.
Once in battle, you can switch between the two weapon slots and your shield. Bows are a good way to stay out harms way whilst taking down a few enemy targets. The use of a blade can cut a swathe through unmounted units. It is also possible to dismount (or be dismounted by an enemy) and fight on foot. Mounted attacks – at speed, greatly increase the damage to rivals though, so it is wise to remain seated for as long as possible.
No Pros and Cons at this time