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Mount & Blade review

Decent
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AT A GLANCE
  • Good horse-riding
  • Some addictive RPG elements
  • Adequate graphics
  • Combat is hit-and-miss
  • Generic medieval world
  • Still feels like freeware

Combining horses with sharp objects doesn’t usually end up in fun – as anyone who’s seen Equus will agree. However, Mount & Blade is a half-decent stab at the open-ended medieval RPG, especially considering the game began as an indie project by a Turkish husband-and-wife development team. Imagine those arguments.

The setting is in the harsh, peasant-swamped land of Calradia where many different factions are vying for control – God knows why, as it’s actually a very dull place, with little much else for the population to do except look miserable or indulge in malnutrition. You begin the game by creating a character – male or female – and by choosing a series a multiple choice questions about your family and your upbringing, you define a character with a modicum of stats. These range from strength and agility, to weapon proficiency and those essential prisoner management skills.

Mount & Blade’s structure is rather like the Total War games, with a map screen you can use to move your character and any recruits between the settlements, and if you encounter any random attacks, you can choose to surrender or join the battle in full 3D. It’s here (and in the fight-for-cash battle arenas in the larger towns) that you have to employ your riding and combat skills to survive, using the standard WASD keys to move and the left-hand mouse button to strike enemies or fire arrows.

While the horse handles rather well, the heralded mounted combat is patchy. The archery is OK but largely ineffective with large numbers of enemies, and the sword/knife/axe hits are annoyingly random in their effectiveness (which applies to on-foot fighting too). Hiring recruits for battles with more than 50 units, visiting taverns for the local gossip, trading items for more cash, upgrading your weapons and be-hooved companion, racking up quests and claiming the throne in a bloody coup will provide much entertainment, but they won’t dispel the feeling that despite the horse-based combat, Mount & Blade is really an anorexic Oblivion set in a budget version of Tolkien’s Rohan.

Sep 16, 2008

More Info

Release date: Sep 16 2008 - PC (US)
Available Platforms: PC
Genre: Action
Published by: Paradox Interactive
Developed by: TaleWorlds
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Alcohol Reference, Blood, Violence, Mild Suggestive Themes, Mild Language

We Recommend

21 comments

  • ferherence - December 6, 2008 5:07 p.m.

    AlB - 2 months 2 days ago Well, I have to say that this review by Jamie Sefton is possibly the worst and most inaccurate review I've ever come across for a piece of software. So bad in fact, that I took the trouble to register with this site so that I could post a comment about it. Glad to know I'm not the only one! Unfortunately the other people have said it all and I can only hope the reviewer dies soon...not really, but honestly please, even if you are frustrated with a game just play it for at least 6 or 7 hours!
  • ttomm46 - September 24, 2008 5:59 a.m.

    PS I forgot the greatest sin of all..The game is not easy!
  • ttomm46 - September 24, 2008 5:56 a.m.

    Two big Problems with the game..It's actually skill based so that lets the 12 year old WOW crowd out....and it's open ended which lets out the Linear rpg crowd out..Gamespot gave a crappy review too....Goes to show that today's average gamer wants His games dumb ed down..sigh
  • Temujin - September 23, 2008 7:42 p.m.

    Dear mister reviewer, you sir are a twat!
  • FlakAttack - September 22, 2008 5:08 p.m.

    Combat felt patchy...? Maybe that's because it is realistic combat: if you and an enemy are running towards each other, you have a greater velocity on impact than if one or both of you are moving away from each other. Hitting a horseman in the back with your sword when he has already passed by won't do nearly as much damage as stabbing him will as he's approaching. It's basic physics. Anyway, if you're going to speak badly about a game, at least go into details. Your article is so short and vague. You have barely touched the surface of this game, and it shows.
  • Kaldrys - September 21, 2008 11:20 p.m.

    When I first saw a score of 62 for M&B I was quite surprised. Sure, you can argue that the graphics are outdated (though why one would care about how the enemy looks when in the middle of a 500 man battle is a mystery to me) and some of the icing on the cake isn't there, but when it comes down to it, icing is exactly that- superficial fluff that is smeared off 30 minutes into a game. Still I understand that M&B appeals to a niche audience that appreciates a semblance of realism- something that many fantasy (read "Oblivion", "Rohan", "Tolkien", "mainstream MMO") lovers won't necessarily value. Despite this, it can't be denied that M&B's gameplay is revolutionary. No other game matches the depth of M&B's battle system while putting the player into the role of just another soldier on the battlefield. This review makes a number of slanderous remarks while providing no foundation for them- something that my 7th grade English teacher taught me never to do. Please, please, tell us why "the heralded mounted combat is patchy", "The archery is... largely ineffective with large numbers of enemies", "the sword/knife/axe hits are annoyingly random in their effectiveness", and worst of all, how "Mount & Blade is really an anorexic Oblivion set in a budget version of Tolkien’s Rohan", for to compare M&B to a game and novel of an entirely separate genre is an inexcusable travesty. I urge anyone reading this review to disregard the reviewer's words. It seems that this reviewer has missed out on what M&B has to offer, which is a shame considering that it really is a gem in an industry dominated by fantasy MMOs and their like.
  • Ollieh - September 21, 2008 10:56 p.m.

    Is this review some kind of joke? If not, I recommend playing the game a bit longer, not just 10 minutes. "Combat is hit-and-miss" What? This game has an awesome combat system which I have not seen in any other game. Four way attack system with physics. If you hit the enemy, as in physically make contact, you do damage according to your skills, weapon and speed. No randomness or dice rolling here like found in most other RPGs. You need to actually learn how to fight in this game. Not everything is based in a fantasy setting. Just for the reviewers information, there used to be this place called medieval world. The game is based on a bloody medieval setting. Although fictional, it is definitely not: "an anorexic Oblivion set in a budget version of Tolkien’s Rohan." It has nothing to do with Tolkien or Oblivion.
  • Merlkir - September 21, 2008 10:32 p.m.

    You, sir, have completely failed as a reviewer. Not that I disagree with a lower score, I didn't expect a 90%. But the reasons for it are stupid. Combat is not hit-and-miss. You just suck. It's skill and physics based and pretty complex. Gee, surprise, not every game is WoW where you point and click. A medieval world is generic? Wow! Pity it's not another of those fantasy worlds we love so much, right? elves, orcs, they really should be in this game. It feels like freeware? Maybe because you didn't buy it, you cheap press bastard. YOU SUCK!!! BOOOOOO!!!
  • Shifted7 - September 21, 2008 10:26 p.m.

    I'm sorry, but this review is incredibly unprofessional and I had to comment. A low score is fine, and M&B is not everyone's cup of tea, but to fling insults like "an anorexic Oblivion set in a budget version of Tolkien’s Rohan" warrants a response. "Essential prisoner management skills" comes close as well. I hope the reviewer takes equal liberty when reviewing, say, Fallout 3. Continued... It also seems as though the reviewer had a lack of understanding of some core mechanics. First, damage with melee weapons depend on the speed the weapon as it hits the enemy. It is not "random". Second, to describe archery as "largely ineffective with large numbers of enemies" seems a little off-topic and irrelevant when you could be discussing how the archery mechanic works. Third and fourth (these are minor points) the battles are described as having "more than 50 units" when the biggest I've fought has been around 1000 units, and the taverns don't provide much in the way of "local gossip". Again, M&B is not everyone's cup of tea, but as someone who's followed it since .808 (not all that long ago) and seen the incredible improvements to what might be one of my favorite games of all time, I had to voice my opinion.
  • saxondragon - December 7, 2008 7:47 a.m.

    Rate the Review: 2 (on a scale of 1 to 10) The Review did not focus on the strengths of Mount and Blade and did not adequately uncover what makes this product superior. He used hype and hyperbole to slant the review and to edify his own writing style at the expense of substance. Is M&B perfect? No. Is there room for improvements? Yes. But M&B delivers where it counts: under the hood. It delivers in a way that 99% of other companies and designers out there can barely fathom, much less provide. This is the strength of M&B. This is what makes it great. Do you want to know why I say this? It is because after three years of downloading beta's, modules and now just after it's official release... I still enjoy playing M&b. For me, as a discriminating gamer who at best can play something a few hours if it is a decent game, maybe a few weeks if it is great, to play something for years is just simply unheard of.
  • AlB - October 4, 2008 2:18 a.m.

    Well, I have to say that this review by Jamie Sefton is possibly the worst and most inaccurate review I've ever come across for a piece of software. So bad in fact, that I took the trouble to register with this site so that I could post a comment about it, as I felt such an innovative and impressive game as Mount and Blade deserved the effort of coming to its defence, particularly when maligned by such reviewing ineptitude. And in case you are curious, I spent well over ten years writing for a daily newspaper as my job in the past, so if you think I'm not qualified to comment on how appalling your writing and reviewings skills are Jamie, then you're wrong on that score too. Why is this review so bad? Well, in the first place it is glaringly obvious that the reviewer has spent very little time with the game, as evidenced by the poor appraisal of the combat system in Mount and Blade, an approach which belies its simplicity to prove one of the most precise and rewarding combat systems to have graced an FPS in a long time, where genuine skill and tactics play a significant role. As if this were not bad enough in the 'review', there is no mention of the fact that it really has no similar competitor at present covering the genre and approach to a game on the subject material, making it one of the few rather original games currently available, which is certainly worth noting in an industry where innovative games are to be savoured when they occasionally show up. Then we have no mention of the open structure of the game which makes modding it easily possible, nor any mention of the wealth of mods already available from a game which featured a uniquely inclusive open beta as it grew, giving it a large and indeed supportive user base of active modders on the developer's forum even on day one of the game's release. Also no mention of the fact that the graphics, while not the most gleaming one has ever seen, are entirely adequate for the game, even impressive when one considers the complexity and size of the battles possible with no slow down. Worse, there is no mention of the scaleability of said battles and graphics, a feature that make M&B playable on even modest computers, and indeed laptops without a dedicated graphics card. I could go on, but frankly, I think most people will get the point, that being that if you want this site to have any credibility at all, you will politely tell Jamie that his clearly inept services as a reviewer are no longer required.
  • Nadelos - September 26, 2008 1:43 a.m.

    "Structure like the Total War games" Um... no? Is the TW campaign map in real-time? No. "Random attacks" Activate cheat mode, use the see all map cheat to look at the numbers of parties and the way they interact with each other depending on size and experience, and then tell me it's random. "Mounted combat is patchy... archery is ineffective... Hits feel random" Umm... right. How is mounted combat patchy, exactly? It's far better than any attempt so far in any genre, and has no bugs that I've detected, after playing solidly since release. Archery isn't ineffective, it just requires training and dedication to the Power Draw and Archery skills - trying to fire a bow with 1 Power Draw and 60 Archery will feel ineffective because it would be in the real world if you tried to fire a longbow with little experience. Hand-to-hand is SO clearly random, what with the skills in the character screen showing your proficiencies, and the combat log showing speed effects of every strike as a percentage... Generic medieval world - typical hypocrisy. If it had elves and orcs, it would be labelled generic fantasy. Oblivion was generic fantasy, and part of a running series, yet I don't see you marking that down for genericism. If you take the time to dig, there is plenty of rather more original back-story to the game that marks it out as more than an Oblivion clone, which the reviewer seems to have immediately dismissed this game as, despite the huge differences. Oh, and to prove how little you put into this review - M&B was NEVER freeware. Please, for the love of God, get someone to play this game for more than 10 minutes, with something other than what looks like a typical "I'm new, so I'll play Swadian because lancers have the least skill needed" character, and to learn how to fight in a method other than what I can onyl assume the reviewer used - click randomly at people as if it was an FPS, then complain because people don't fall down immediately. This is unique in that it is far more symetrical than most RPGs - the same rules apply across the board.
  • gkhgkh - September 22, 2008 10:49 p.m.

    He didn't speak badly about the game...
  • gkhgkh - September 22, 2008 1:16 a.m.

    I've been playing this game a lot since I got it. At first it is hard and seems random, but once you play it for a few hours, it becomes addicting, and you start to see combat isn't exactly random. The fighting is unmatched. No game comes close to the quality. Reviewers should play a game for a half dozen hours before they write a review, because this review is rather poor and does not give any clue about what Mount&Blade really is like.
  • Nordmann88 - September 21, 2008 11:52 p.m.

    I have to say that I'm in total agreement with the previous comments, and really there's not much more I can add. As far as I'm concerned, the reviewer has completely missed the mark. He simply does not understand what the game is about or how to go about playing it. Some of his comments are outright ridiculous and caste a false impression to those that haven't had the chance to experience it for themselves. Mount&Blade's graphics may not be flashy, it may not have an enthralling storyline or a vast number of quests, but it doesn't need any of these things to succeed at what it does. This game is about combat, it's about war, it's about taking an army to the battlefield and wiping your foe from existence. This is what M&B is about, and rest assured, it does it very, very well. So my advice to anyone not familiar with the game, try it for yourself, because this review is so far from the truth it doesn't even sound like the same game.
  • Skyrage - September 21, 2008 10:59 p.m.

    Not that I disagree with the score as is, but the level of profession of this article is abyssal. It is painfully clear that you never played for more than 5 minutes before forming an opinion considering in particular the very last sentence in this so-called review. I don't care what score is given but at least give proper and professional reasons for i. I have read another review which gave the game a 6 or 7 or something along those lines, and that review was excellently written unlike this one.
  • Ljas - January 3, 2009 3:06 p.m.

    I just had to register here just to say that this I agree with the previous comments. This is the most unprofessional review I've ever seen, if it can be called a review at all. Hitting certainly ain't random. the damage is affected by these things: -the base damage of the weapon -the weight of the weapon -which part of the blade hits the opponent (closer to the tip-> higher speed -> higher damage) -the player's skills I'm not going to start about the other epic failures that this "review" contains. I demand that this review is to be removed from this site and a new, real review is added instead of this pile of crap!
  • Dantora - March 22, 2009 5:22 a.m.

    This review is the worst review ever. Mount & Blade is one of the best RPG's to date. And including constant patches, and improvements to the game, it WILL surpass oblivion. There is a story. One that you sorta make. This game isn't quite as good as oblivion presently, but has more combat and diplomacy than just 1v1 or 1v2 fights like oblivion which only has big battles on a few quests, and are extremely limited to everything. Mount & Blade is not any fairy tale bull-shit you usually get. It's the most medival game of it's time. It's not freeware. It's updated! It will be like fallout 3, or any other great RPG in due time. This review needs to be rewriten. The whole thing. "Generic" "Boring" "Random" YOUR REVIEW SUCKS SHIT YOU IDIOT! You didn't even play the game for an hour I bet! Probably died a lot with your shitty autistic hand getting in the way. The game is something different, almost combining RPG/Action/Medival/and Stratgey together. That is pretty cool if you ask me. Mount and Blade added something new. I have to admit, the graphics aren't "top noche" and, it can get a little fusturating at sometimes, and it can be glitchy... (stuck on a fence when you don't completely clear it with a horse... You do get out of it, but take 10 damage to both your horse and character...) In conclusion, this review is WAAYYYY to harsh, this reviewer has no idea what he is talking about, and the game is almost revolutionary. You should give it a try. The thing I hate most, is if you have a village, building stuff takes forver, and sound track gets sorta repetitive. (not really... Just add new songs to sound folder... If you know how.)
  • RedOutlive10 - March 8, 2009 2:45 a.m.

    I think the reviews have been a bit harsh on Mount & Blade to be honest. It lacks story and fluff, but I'm personally fed up with Final Fantasy esque RPGs. It did bring something new to the table, one of the best melee combat representations out there, and I felt it was extremely innovative even if it got its flaws. With support I'm pretty sure the developers can bring a more polished title. But I'm already satisfied a company is covering deep melee combat - it's extremely underrated nowadays.
  • Mastadisasta - January 6, 2009 9:27 p.m.

    I will have to agree with most of the comments I just read. Now the game does have its flaws I will have to agree with you Jamie. But I look at games as way of fun Entertainment. And When I pick up a game for 14.95 via a download and end up playing it more than I have Fall Out 3 and Fary Cry 2 (which are both great games) I call that Great Entertainment! This game does impress me with its horseback melee combat, its definitely a first of its kind. Archery is my favorite, once you put a few points in the Draw, horse Archery and Riding skill and it rocks. Try the Demo its free, but it ends at lvl 7. Need to really get higher than that to see your skills kick in. I give M&B an 8.5 out of 10! My 7yr old son is also playing, he loves the combat.

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