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[56k Warning!] Mount & Blade: With Fire and Sword Review

post #1 of 4
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**Screenshots in post #2**

For those who don’t know, Mount and Blade (and Warband, and With Fire and Sword) is an/are Action/RPG genre game(s) with a hint of strategy, set in the medieval times. In all three games, you begin as a freelancing soldier/mercenary with nothing but a horse and some basic equipment (weapon and armour). The general principle and story of these games is the same, so I’ll only discuss WFaS.

Story:
The aim in the game is to rise up the ranks and make a name for yourself in the war-torn world, by assembling an army, and helping factions and kingdoms or eventually conquering one for your own. You start off by helping small villages with minor tasks such as bringing them cattle or goods from other villages or towns. You can also visit towns and castles to help the ‘Lords’ with any tasks they may have for you, from being their delivery boy (sending a letter to somebody else) to helping them hunt down traitors, runaways or murderers. The very start has a tutorial where you learn the basics, which is nice for those new to Mount and Blade.

Once you start to create a sizeable squad, you will eventually be faced with tougher enemies (More bandit groups for example) and you will be asked to undertake more ‘high-risk’ missions as you become more famous and known throughout the land, and you can eventually choose to pledge allegiance with a kingdom (such as the Kingdom of Sweden) where you will be required to undergo tasks to help the nation, which generally consists of assisting the other Lords in invading the enemry kingdom’s land and ravaging and looting villages to spread “fear” (or to just piss them off).

Eventually (with enough renown across the land and a large force) you will be able to partner yourself with a person who claims to be the rightful heir to the throne of their respective kingdom, and will ask for your assistance in reclaiming it. You would eventually be rewarded with your own Castle/Town and you would have to manage it (collect taxes, protect from invasion, etc), while expanding your kingdom (or your ruler’s). Of course you don’t have to take up service with somebody, and you can just choose to conquer the land for yourself, without a “partner”.


Combat and Gameplay:
There is quite a lot to do, and it takes a good while (especially in WFaS) to build up a good, strong army which can crush the enemy and take over foreign lands. Building a force is much harder now than previous games, mainly due to the fact that you cannot recruit people from villages anymore, and have to rely on Mercenaries, which are pretty expensive, especially when making money in WFaS is harder than before. I’ve found that at the start, the best way to earn some quick money is to go to taverns and challenge drunken people to fights.

You can wager 5, 10, 15, 20 or 25 denars (currency in M&B) and if you defeat the opponent, then you win 25 denars. You can challenge a person in the same tavern up to 4 times, before they realise that they’ve had enough of getting beaten up and paying you and tell you they don’t want to fight anymore. You can challenge a person in the same tavern after 1 day after this.

The fight itself is just a fistfight, and it’s fairly easy if you know when to block and when to attack. What makes it even easier is that you can block, while kicking the enemy, so you can essentially keep damaging them while not taking any yourself, which makes it very easy, although you can also land a few punches to finish them off quicker.

You can also insult the drunk, which will lead to you being ‘assaulted’ by 3 enemies (with swords), and you very likely losing, which causes you to get injured and you have to rest, and if you don’t then your player’s stats drop (as I found out after attempting to regain honour after 3 defeats in one night!).

Another thing that is missing from WFaS is the tournament fights in towns, where you can battle in tournaments (like a Gladiator, but without killing) and win money if you defeat all the opponents (This was a good way to earn money in previous games, and was actually pretty fun).

The combat in this game (and all M&B games) is very good, for a medieval-type of game. There are 4 different animations for attacks, and thus 4 directions your player can attack from (using a sword, axe, knife, or fists for example). There are various weapons you can use, from swords and axes to lances and spears, bows and the newest addition, guns and grenades (or bombs).

The melee weapons are basically as same as the previous games, however the guns are what make WFaS different. They aren’t as accurate as modern-day rifles or pistols of course, however they are still pretty accurate, and can be a great addition to the player – Of course, there is also a negative side. In this case, the make your life a living hell!

At a start of the game, you start out with basic armour and weapons, and are on your own. One of your first missions would be to slay a bunch of bandits (about 7), and with very little money, you can’t hire mercenaries to join you, and since you can’t recruit from villages anymore, there is no cheaper way to get support either.

What makes this hard is the fact that even the weakest and most basic bandit can have a firearm, and since they can kill you (and most likely will) in one shot, this basically means you have to go for hit and run tactics, while making sure you don’t get shot… not easy when you’re on your own and nobody else to distract them.

Another annoying point in this game, is that near the beginning, while you have a very small group, you will constantly be chased by groups of 20 – 50 bandits (You will obviously stand no chance) and the only way to outrun them is to stay in a town for the night (which isn’t free). However as soon as you leave, you will eventually have some on your tail.

You can engage them and attempt battle but you will only lose due to their numbers and GUNS! You can alternatively pay them off, but they may ask for money you won’t have, in which case you will be taken as a slave, which isn’t something you want. What with the overpowered bandits and little money and support at the start, you could say this game isn’t “noob” friendly.

The guns seem less overpowered due to the fact that there are no annoying NPCs shooting at you in groups of 100s, and there are a number of game modes from Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch to Siege and with 64 player servers (I’ve seen a few 128 and higher too o.O) it can get pretty crazy.. but fun.

In MP you select your “class”, from Infantryman (soldier on foot), Cavalry (horse and heavy weapons) or Musketeer (who has a gun). You then have 1500 denars to kit out your soldier with equipment, and as you kill more people, you gain more money to upgrade your equipment.


Graphics:
Obviously when you play this game you wouldn’t be expecting Crysis-level detail and image quality, however considering M&B has been around for a while, you would expect the developers to attempt to improve image quality in this game, to benefit those who have machines capable of running this on such settings, however this game looks more or less the same as its predecessors. The textures are generally the same and the models are also the same.

There is new content in terms of some weapon and armour models, but then it isn’t a whole lot more than what was in Mount and Blade and its Warband expansion (standalone). Although the game doesn’t look terrible on the highest settings, it isn’t the best looking game around, but then again, sometimes the experience matters more than the eye-candy.

Although I personally would have preferred some better graphics from a game being released in 2011 – But I can understand the developer’s choice of sticking with the same level of quality, because then it would be easier to run on weaker systems, and considering this game only costs £10/$15, you can’t expect it to look like Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood.

Some landscapes and areas look better than others in this game, and I thing that the evening/night-time “maps” look especially better because of the lighting effects, which directs your attention away from the dated or “low quality” models and textures used.

However for those who would want this to look better, you can expect a graphics enhancement mod for this sometime, like there is one for the original M&B and Warband, which make the game look (much!) better.

In terms of performance, it’s not a hard game to run. My laptop (specs below) manages this fairly well on medium settings, with battle size set to 80 (setting it too high can make you lag a bit unless you have a fast dual/quad core CPU). As for graphics cards, I reckon even something like an 8800 GT would be able to max this with the highest AA settings, this game relies more on the CPU to do the work than the GPU.


The nasty bits: For starters, there are a number of visual bugs and glitches which are constantly annoying (flashing on screen, joints missing on models) and while these can be expected of a freshly released product, you would imagine that the dev's would have had fixed these considering this is essentially the same game as the other 2, based on the same engine, and on the same level of graphics.

Secondly, the game sometimes crashes in certain 'areas' (when you look at them). While I can't exactly say which ones, since it only happened to me in 3 places so far, I say it's constant because I would reload, go there and do the same thing only to crash again (pub fights for example always have the same 'arena'.

Worst of all however, is the hit registry/detection in this game, which is horrible to say the least. I don't know whether it's bugged or whether it was made this way (it certainly isn't like this in previous games) but hitting an opponent is sometimes incredibly hard. With a sword, half of your strikes will be misses, even though you are literally right next to your opponent and they are within reach, and you "land the hit" (visually).

This is especially worse for longer-ranged melee weapons such as pikes, lances and spears, which have an even lower chance to hit, even if you stab them straight in the torso.. it will just not register it, and you will in return get a sword to face. I personally thing the developers should have spent more time testing and considering how the other 2 games run fine, this is a bit unusual, however I suspect it should be fixed in future updates.



Story and AI: "Story" revolves around the nations such as Sweden, Polish Republic, etc and is not as terrible as previous Mount and Blade games - But most quests have nothing to do with the story even remotely, but what is there is still pretty bland and boring. The AI are also annoying, and most importantly, bandits with guns gonna come and rape yo' backside!.. and you can't have female characters anymore, how sexist! 7/10

Gameplay: Great M&B melee and mounted combat with the addition of guns that will make you rage over and over until you can counter them. Beating up drunks is fun! 9/10

Multiplayer: Loads of players and a number of different game modes, maps, equipment and unit types which is very fun especially with friends and gives it good replayability value. 8/10

Graphics: Old and out-dated, but still not terrible. At least it’s not 8-bit. Expect graphics mods to make this better. The best looking thing in this game is the sun, and your armour! The UI looks good, even though it's got an "old" effect, it's easy to navigate and text is a good size. 6.5/10

Bottom Line (tl:dr): This is a pretty good game, and considering it’s so cheap, it wouldn’t hurt to pick it up, however if you want some M&B action, I would highly recommend you buy the original Mount and Blade, which can be found pretty cheap, and if you want some multiplayer action, then Warband can also be had for a good price and contains all the goodies the original game has. I would give this a 7, being a Mount and Blade fan, however because of the bugs and other problems, this is a score it gets (being reviewed on it's current state). 8/10

- I'm personally a bit disappointed, as I was hoping for something more from this game, however considering the price, I'm still content with the purchase and Multiplayer is still fun -

Thanks for reading and all feedback is appreciated.

Edited by Razi3l - 5/9/11 at 8:38am
    
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post #2 of 4
Thread Starter 
Main menu
mbwfas2011050319504064.png


The Multiplayer section - You create a profile and then the server browser comes
mbwfas2011050319511391.png


The Custom Battle menu, where you can battle against the AI
mbwfas2011050319511859.png


Options menu
mbwfas2011050319515114.png


Graphics options
mbwfas2011050319515684.png


Singleplayer character creation menu, you make your hero and assign skills - Sadly, you can't have a female hero anymore. mad.gif
mbwfas2011050319533743.png


The faces of the old look much more detailed than the faces of the young. Age discrimination against the young, I say!
mbwfas2011050319571857.png
mbwfas2011050319572088.png


And here is what my NON-FEMALE character looks like.
mbwfas2011050320083004.png


The start of the game has you chopping up some wood so you can get past it, because people hadn't heard of jumping over things in this era
mbwfas2011050320092027.png


Once you've learned how to handle a sword, you have to help a group of french people kill some villagers with clubs and some priests
mbwfas2011050320103487.png
mbwfas2011050320105716.png


Something for all the FPS fans
mbwfas2011050320115934.png


This is what the world map looks like. You move to different locations by clicking there like in other RTS games
mbwfas2011050321065956.png
mbwfas2011050321070591.png


Inventory menu
mbwfas2011050321072992.png


A very uninteresting desert-ish area
mbwfas2011050321102198.png


This is the part where you give drunk people a good beating
mbwfas2011050321504782.png
mbwfas2011050321501550.png


Some places in the game look better than others
mbwfas2011050321592119.png
mbwfas2011050322203406.png
mbwfas2011050418261779.png


Don't you wish you had this hat in TF2!
mbwfas2011050418344310.png
mbwfas2011050418590298.png

Soon you'll have a nice army
mbwfas2011050418585855.png


Another day, another drunk getting beaten
mbwfas2011050419282135.png


Nice village - Can I buy a house here?
mbwfas2011050512304177dy.png


This is the face of a man who just served Justice
mbwfas2011050512350129.png


Falcon Punch!
mbwfas2011050513222459.png


And the bandits demanded money from ME!
mbwfas2011050516502369.png


Here are some Multiplayer screenshots :D
mbwfas2011050518442176.png
mbwfas2011050518255879.png
mbwfas2011050518302868.png
mbwfas2011050518313696.png
mbwfas2011050518415823.png
Edited by Razi3l - 5/9/11 at 8:39am
    
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post #3 of 4
I love this game but it has definitely taken a few steps back from Warband. No female in singleplayer is simply a because of the time period/story. The females do look odd in armor (multiplayer). Like their body doesn't belong to them or something. Never had such an issue in Warband.

Also the addition of guns has taken the chaotic multiplayer to new heights. I found myself wishing for the comfort of my good old crossbow.

Unless I'm mistaken the Engine was the originally the work of a Turkish man and his wife. For the massive amount of units that it can handle the graphics are actually good. You shouldn't be so harsh on the graphics because most "shiny" games out now would burn, crash and shatter if they were given a 200 unit battle.
post #4 of 4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TFL Replica;13394721 
I love this game but it has definitely taken a few steps back from Warband. No female in singleplayer is simply a because of the time period/story. The females do look odd in armor (multiplayer). Like their body doesn't belong to them or something. Never had such an issue in Warband.

Also the addition of guns has taken the chaotic multiplayer to new heights. I found myself wishing for the comfort of my good old crossbow.

Unless I'm mistaken the Engine was the originally the work of a Turkish man and his wife. For the massive amount of units that it can handle the graphics are actually good. You shouldn't be so harsh on the graphics because most "shiny" games out now would burn, crash and shatter if they were given a 200 unit battle.

The females do look strange in armour in this game but I can understand (and do) why they didn't let you choose one in SP. The guns are really annoying and the graphics are fine, I just expected an improvement. If you look at the Steam screenshots for example, they look much better than what you would see. D:

I guess I'll have to wait for the texture mods, and the engine is great.
    
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