by Ingvi Snædal
reviewed on PC
A Story as old as Time...
It's a story as old as time itself. Boy meets Girl, Girl falls in love with Boy, Boy marries Girl, Girl and Boy write, program and produce a videogame together. At least that's how the story went for Armagan Yavuz, founder of TaleWorlds, and his wife, Ipek Yavuz.
Mount&Blade started as an independent project of the obviously talented couple and relied solely on the internet community as it's Quality Assurance team. The betas were open to all on their website and comments and suggestions were not only welcomed but encouraged. The game was well received for it's realistic and engaging combat, wast open world, easy modifications and in-depth character skill system but has, at the same time, suffered criticism after it's release for having out-dated graphics, no real plot or story and dull and uninteresting quests, but now that the Mount&Blade: Warband expansion is out; have they fixed all that?
For Your Viewing Pleasure
The graphics have been upgraded quite a bit and the most welcome addition for some is the HDR support. This upgrade does not, however, put the games graphics anywhere close to the high standards of visual excellence we gamers have come to expect, but the gameplay does more than make up for it. The lack of graphical showmanship also means that more people will be able to enjoy this title. Even if your computer is one or two years out of date you will be able to enjoy this game with the rest of us.
As you ride into battle the first thing you'll hear are the sounds of your horse's hooves beating against the surface of the ground. As you speed up to a full gallop the sound becomes more rapid and this will be your cue to ready your weapon. You'll ride past an army of men bracing themselves for the full force of your charge. When the first strike hits the shield, weapon, or if you're lucky, body of an enemy the thudding sound of the hooves will seem like a distant serene memory. Nothing will enter your ears other then the sound of battle until finally your allies raise their weapons and cheer for victory. The sounds during battle are very well made and bring a realistic feel to the battle, but I wish I could say the same about the ambient music during the opening menu and map travel. Not that they ruin the ambiance of the game or don't fit in, as they do. They're just bad songs. Particularly the one in the opening menu, that one started to annoy me very quickly.
Am I Missing Something?
The user interface is very raw and feels incomplete. I know this game is supposed to be all about the realism but tell me why I have to go to the Party menu, select the member of my party that I want to interact with, select “talk” with him selected and then choose from a list of topics what I wanted to do with him, which I've forgotten by now. How much easier it would be if I could only open the inventory menu and select my team members from a list there to see their equipment. There are a lot of things missing from this game as evidenced by the countless patches they've released in the first week it's been out. Even some of the basic necessities of an open-world RPG are missing such as an auto-follow option, which of course means that every time you're asked to follow a nobleman on his campaign to wreak havoc upon your enemies, you have to be constantly clicking on the ground next to him to stay close, but for the love of the flying spaghetti monster don't click on him because then you'll open up a dialog box and the game comes to a halt until you've gotten out of that one. There are countless other small problems that I've noticed that I'm not going to go into in any more detail now because most of those can be tossed up to simple bugs that'll probably be fixed in the near future. That is, after they've fixed the piracy problem.
Fantastic, adrenaline pumping, sitting-on-the-edge-of-your-seat, combat.
A tsunami of bugs.