Mount & Blade: Warband sets off on the wrong foot. A direct port of the 2010 PC release, it boasts appalling visuals and an initial lack of direction that will likely have you ready to throw in the towel before you’ve even gotten started. Fighting past that urge, however, allows the game’s deep and tactical systems to blossom into something quite compelling.More a medieval simulator than a fantasy adventure, Warband begins by asking the player to define their character. In keeping with the societal values of the period it depicts, if you elect to play a female or lowborn character you’ll need to fight that little bit harder to be accepted into certain circles. Penetrating these influential groups helps to achieve the ultimate aim of the game in taking the throne as monarch of all Calradia.It’s a long, long road to get there, full of manipulative politics and scheming warfare.
Problem is, the road has no signage. Mount & Blade removes the training wheels far earlier than you’re prepared for, resulting in an uncertain and meandering start to the journey that forced us online to seek some direction. It’s when we were able to gain focus, and concoct a long-term game plan as a result, that everything clicked into place, making the intentional obscuring of information questionable. There’s not holding the player’s hand, and there’s throwing them to the wolves.Pencilled in first on the agenda was winning battles to build renown and coax nobles into giving us the time of day. Thankfully, combat is the one element you’re taught wholesale.Melee encounters feel cumbersome for a while, making use of the right stick in combination with the triggers to execute directional blocks and attacks. Before long there’s a weight and intimacy to it, pulling focus from the battle raging around you to one specific combatant that you’ll carefully observe and gradually pick apart.
Ranged offerings are decidedly more typical, though partaking whilst on horseback demands absolute precision and ensures that whilst you’ll waste a lot of ammunition, you’ll land some jaw-dropping skill shots to be proud of. Unfortunately, some weapons shatter balancing to the point a single unconsidered blow will lay out almost any competition. When combined with poor artificial intelligence, combat becomes exploitatively easy. Given the right setting - say, a narrow pathway that forces enemies to approach in single file - you can just about take on entire armies single handedly. Similarly, most units become superfluous when you realise cavalry possess a huge advantage; the horses essentially double each unit’s health, meaning they can simply charge in headfirst and win most any fight.
The difficulty can be bumped up to somewhat remedy the problems, though it won’t eradicate them.By now you’ll have earned the renown not just to converse with nobles, but to be sworn into the service of royalty. Choosing to do so grants a weekly wage, as well as a village to rule and the associated income from its rents. It should be a pivotal moment to breathe a sigh of relief with more coming into your purse than going out, but thanks to the aforementioned exploits they were dealing in small change. When you’re powerful enough to ransack enemy villages without needing to fear the repercussions, money is an almost endless commodity. Storming strongholds taps into a love nurtured by some of the most iconic scenes in cinema, despite in this instance looking like two bags of potatoes being poured into a toy castle.It’s recommended you remain in a king’s service until you’re recognised as having a sufficient right to rule, only then making strides of your own, lest everybody unite to come down on your little uprising like a ton of horse cakes.
Accruing that right by finding a fitting spouse and schmoozing with bigwigs just felt like obligatory busywork that hampered the pacing when, militarily, we could have realistically conquered their castles and taken them prisoner.The gravitational pull of Warband dragged us through the dark hours regardless, defying we put it down like the best strategy games do, before finally rewarding us with the juicy bits we signed up for.Now a law unto ourselves, we set about inditing large-scale siege warfare to claim swathes of land. It certainly makes you feel like a badass, storming strongholds tapping into a love nurtured by some of the most iconic scenes in cinema, despite in this instance looking like two bags of potatoes being poured into a toy castle. If you manage to claim and hold everything as your own, which will take some considerable time and dedication, you’ll have done what many thought impossible in uniting the fragmented land in an era of peace. See, you can justify all the bloodshed in the name of prosperity.Should your cup begin to runneth dry, there are additional wars to be waged in the custom battle and multiplayer modes. Naturally there’s no politicking here, just a range of deathmatch and objective-based game modes that run smoothly on dedicated servers.Through offering an unprecedented - even intimidating - level of freedom to the player and populating the world of Calradia with abundant emergent gameplay events, TaleWorlds Entertainment bottled an addictive formula that will enthrall for countless long play sessions should you give it the chance. TA Score for this game:Posted on 11 October 16 at 14:42, Edited on 12 October 16 at 07:11This review has 3 positive votes and 0 negative votes.
Please log in to vote.Preamble:Please note I play a lot of these games on my 'review' tag, and often before achievements are live. As with all of my reviews, the verdict below is based purely on my personal time with the game.
My reviews are not influenced by general opinions, they do not draw reference to other people’s experiences (unless I’m reviewing couch co-op play), nor are they based on any one particular element; rather they are an account of my own experiences, and as a result are entirely subjective – as they should be! I try to be as spoiler-free as possible, but in the interest of providing an honest account, some reveals may be necessary. EnjoyPlease COMMENT if you down vote - I take the time to create these reviews for this community; I'd love your feedback!Review:Mount & Blade: Warband was originally released on the PC in March 2010, itself a re-imagining of the original Mount & Blade, which was published on September 16th 2007. Exactly nine years to the day after the very first title in the series, the Warband edition has been re-released on the Xbox One and PS4.There’s a certain amount of animosity surrounding the eighth generation of consoles concerning remasters.
It seems that for every original title, there’s an older game which has been ever so slightly tinkered with and relaunched at near to full price. Well, Mount & Blade isn’t full price.
It’s only £15.99. It’s also not a remaster – it’s the exact same experience as you had on your PC some 78 months ago. It doesn’t come with it’s Napoleonic or Viking expansions, or any graphical upgrades. It also doesn’t support mods on either console, arguably the element which elevated the mediocre vanilla experience to something which could be considered great. It does still support multiplayer, though. Limited to isolated battles of course, like the original.
Bearing all of that in mind, let’s start at the beginning.Mount & Blade: Warband is a roleplaying game set in a medieval land named Calradia. The focus here is on the medieval life as you would expect it to be: There are no fantasy elements, no spells to wield and no monsters to slay. You create any character you wish, male or female, young or old, with status or without.
Following this, you’re dropped into the world at a location determined by the choices you make during creation. There is something of a storyline to follow at this point, but it’s very vague, as the main draw of M&B is it’s open-ended gameplay in an open world.You can join and work for six different factions, or even start-up your own should you see fit to ransack a town and take it over. You can marry into love, or into wealth to meet your business needs.
You can quest for the factions or the politicians of the land, and you can ultimately become King or Queen of Calradia should you so desire. It takes more work to get there if you start as, say, the daughter of a penniless urchin instead of the son of an aristocrat, but it’s possible – and that kind of open flexibility is what makes the game really interesting to play. But there’s some work involved to get to that point too, as for the first three or four hours you’ll likely be feeling as though you’ve stepped back in time, and straight into a huge turd.When Warband was released on the PC in 2010, it looked bad. Untouched in 2016 on the Xbox One and PS4, it’s abhorrent. It doesn’t just look bad; it’s awful.
Not in that original Deus Ex way bad, or Tomb Raider, where it’s aged as you would expect. It’s a terrible looking game. The sound is something of a nuisance too, with combat-style music blaring out even when you’re casually walking through a town. If you turn the music off, you’re treated to dull and badly sampled grunts and clangs, which also don’t go far to allaying fears of wasting your hard-earned cash on the game. The switchable first / third person view points are both as equally unwieldy, and it has the made-for-mouse-and-keyboard feel when playing with a controller. If you can get beyond all of that – the visual, aural and mechanical atrocities – there is, incredulously, a decent and interesting game underneath. I stop short of calling it fun, because it really isn’t, but it can be an engaging experience.Whilst pursuing whatever goal you have in mind for your created character, you travel from town to town on horseback recruiting your Warband.
You can forgo this, but you’ll not last long without taking the time to build up a small army as your entourage. Travelling takes place on the world map, a zoomed out view of the land of Calradia, with towns and other locations shown as a representation, rather than to scale. As you travel, you’ll be stalked by bandits and other such misfits in real-time, and you can assess your warband’s power in comparison to theirs thanks to handy numbers displayed by the groups. The more people you have in tow, the more ‘persuasive’ you can afford to be with these ne’er do wellsWhen you ride into a location or meet up with groups on the map, that area is loaded in as a separate, independent playing area, where you can see all of your army and yourself up close. In towns, this largely consists of you walking around, asking the people of the area about their history and beliefs, and visiting persons of importance who you can use to further your own goals. In the field, you may find yourself entangled in small to large-scale combat, with a particular focus on fighting from horseback.
It’s here where, back in the day, the unique and tactical melees made people take notice of the game – where it elevated it’s status above mediocre and into something better. It all seems rather slow and clunky now: Block an incoming attack by pushing a direction and your.block button, then press your attack button while moving in any direction to attack around the enemy’s person. Personally, with the stiffness of the animations, I much prefer to use the default hit-block-and-the-game-chooses-the-best-place-to-put-your-shield setting, while still having control over my characters attacks. In a post Dark Souls era, this gives you the best combination of useful tactics and decent gameplay, as timing your attacks takes precedence. This is undoubtedly where Mount & Blade shines the most, and it’s a good job, because some of the larger battles can be quite lengthy and punishing, and if you don’t use your cavalry and archers properly, expect high casualties. Even if the graphics and sound are lacking, the tactics play quite realistically, and it provides an experience that is only equalled by Creative Assembly’s Total War series.Siege battles are quite something to behold, too.
Now, we’re not quite talking Rome: Total War, but they are tactical and hold a certain amount of spectacle, especially if you’re the aggressor. It’s important to plan the siege properly too, making sure you have your shield men up front, with the archers behind them as you attempt to storm the castle walls.After spending a good few hours exploring the land, taking on quests, growing your personal army and forging relationships with the games various factions, the process suddenly clicks, and you find yourself drawn in to the world, with it’s changing economy and fragile politics. It takes a lot of perseverance to reach this point, and it’s accurate to say the more you learn about the mechanics of the world you live in, the more you’ll enjoy the medieval simulation.
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If you do reach this point, you’ll be happy that you did, I’m sure. If you like the idea but can’t get past the horrendous presentation, you may be interested to know a sequel is in the works; a bona fide Mount & Blade II. With motion capture and a much updated game engine, we can expect a game which has not only the tactical battles and complex simulation, but one which has the looks and sounds to match. Mount & Blade: Warband features some innovative ideas that many other games in the genre haven't explored. The focus on the political nature of warring countries as well as the actual combat gives players multiple ways to play. It is unfortunate that many of these features are left largely unexplained, though, and they require more than a small amount of trial and error to figure out exactly how to proceed. The steep learning curve and low production values may put many people off, although its open-endedness offers players far more replayability than many other games in the genre.