Mount and Blade (PC)

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Introduction

The night is wet and cold. You’ve surrounded the city of Veluca with your group  of loyal and trusty warriors. You’re wearing the best armor and weapons money can buy and are the first climbing the ladder to mount the walls. You reach its precipe and get nailed with like, 6 crossbow bolts. What were you thinking? Never be the first over the wall– who do you think you are, Alexander the Great? I bet you thought it was so cool to have a giant axe and charge forward. Seriously, get a shield, it’s useful.

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Pictured here are shields being useful. Do you believe me now?

 

History

Mount and Blade was developed by TaleWorlds, located in Turkey, and was published by Paradox Interactive, located in Sweden. You might know Paradox Interactive for Magicka, the Crusader Kings series, and Runemaster– these guys really like their medieval/fantasy roleplaying games. The game takes inspiration from games like Sid Meier’s Pirates! and Daggerfall. It’s meant to feel like the player is a vital character in a historical fiction novel.

Fun Fact:  The review scores for Mount and Blade varied greatly. Ranging from Eurogamer’s 5/10 to Gamepros 5 stars.

Mount and Blade was released on September 16th 2008. It’s competition was, Sid Meier’s Civilization IV (PC), Stalker: Clear Sky (PC), and The Witcher: Enhanced Edition (PC).

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Oh man, check out those… 2008 graphics?

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Compare that still shot with Stalker Clear, mentioned above and released in 2 weeks before.

 

Nostalgia

Game Mods. I remember seeing the guys at my college computer club playing this game and they all had all sorts of crazy mods for it. I’ve seen Star Wars mods where being wookie is just about wearing special wookie armor and all the swords were replaced with lightsabers. This game is easily modable and I think that’s a huge point for it. I know it’s no excuse for its lacking appearance and its semi-limited gameplay options but it is really cool. I’ll admit that I haven’t installed any mods for it but that’s not for lack of them. The internet is brimming with mods for this title and I urge players to seek out and try them.

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Freaking skeletons. You can mod a skeleton army! Sign me up.

 

Gameplay

Mount and Blade is difficult to describe when it comes to its gameplay. It’s certainly a bit of a sandbox, there are any number of things the player can do. They can become a trader, become a bandit, a mercenary, a gallant  knight, a despicable scoundrel, the protector of a village, the lord of a castle, or try to take the world for themselves–key word ‘try’. The character’s skills are the main influence on what the player can do. If they want to make a character who’s good at trading it will behoove them to put extra points in trading or looting if they wanted to be a bandit for example.

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Look at all these skills! They’re all also cleverly related to different attributes.

But if you want to do what the game “intends” you to do you’ll end up becoming the vassal to a king and conquering castles and cities… until he doesn’t shower you with the attention that a brave and valiant warlord deserves and has consistently given fiefs and castles to Lord Bulba and then you defect and he flips his shit and then you’ve got to flee to the nearby kingdom and hope they’ll accept you after to took over 2 of their cities… I think this one got away from me. But the point is that you can do a lot of things and you never know what’ll happen.

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Maybe if you could extract your lips from King Ragnars butt then you might be able to actually accomplish something instead of having me do all your dirty work you stag bannered, stubble faced prick… I might hold a grudge.

Your path to success is based on the troops that you recruit. Each of the different factions has a recruit that can be upgraded into different units. And each factions troops lends themselves to different roles, certain factions have troops that a better suited to different tasks on the battlefield. In taverns across Calradia there are mercenaries and “heroes” to hire. Mercenaries are generic units that perform their tasks admirably but don’t excel in any real way. Heroes are characters that always get knocked out in battle and never truly die. They also can gain skills like the player can which allows very skilled heroes to contribute to each other’s skills, if applicable. These heroes also have opinions of other heroes and of the player’s actions. Some heroes revel in being bandits, other will leave the party if they raid too many villages.

 

The Gush

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Do you see that face? That’s Jeremus and he’s the best hero money can buy, by which I mean he’ll join the party just to save peoples lives. How… Why? Because he’s a surgeon. I know medicine from this era isn’t great but Jeremus has got some good ideas and he just wants to keep people alive. He’s not too keen on bandits and imposing on villagers but he’s the only surgeon that needs no training.

All of the factions have grounding in different cultures of the time. Each one feels uniquely like themselves. It’s easy to identify who you’re fighting just by looking at their troops.

There are lots of different ways to alter the difficulty. From increasing the damage you deal to decreasing the damage you take to decreasing the general AI levels.

Being part of a cavalry charge is awesome and it’s something that not a lot of games offers.

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Hold formation! Strike like a rogue wave!

I love the Nords, they assault castles and don’t afraid of anything.

I also love the Khergits, they are based on the mongols and that’s all you need to know.

The map is well decorated and looks like a real geopraphic location

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It’s a pretty sweet map.

The interactions and dialogue of the heroes is really great. Hearing a superstitious and uneducated assassin accuse an engineer of black magic because he’s doing math in the sand is just hilarious.

 

The Kvetch

The music in this game isn’t very good. That’s all there is to it. It tries to have sweeping orchestral pieces but it’s plain to see it was made in some sort of program and not put together too well.

There’s only 1 different type of swing for every angle of attack. You’re always right handed and you can swing right, left, overhead, and stab and it’s always the same.

Cattle escorts. The cattle escort missions are the worst type of quests to get. They’re damn hard to control and it’s just tedious and not fun.

All the prisoners are only worth 50 denars because a Swadian Knight is just as valuable as a Swadian recruit.

The food system is really simple and seems merely ornamental.

 

The Verdict

This game is pretty good but after playing the sequel it feels incomplete. Mount and Blade: Warband has so much more polish and it really improves the games feel end experience. So I can’t recommend this, but only because Warband is better. Nostalgia status: Unblinded.

Next Week: Max Payne

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