Off the bat, this isn’t a game that I would normally have considered. Whilst I am a big fan of RPG and Tactics games; Rome: Total War, Civilization V, Elder Scrolls and the like, I hadn’t seen or heard of this series before.
Upon starting this game you are presented with a number of customisation options for your character. All the normal ones are there, Strength, Agility, Intellect as well as Weapon and Defensive Skills. Additionally there are some traditional customisation options for the facial features of your character, although these were only selectable from a slider.
Once in the game you are taught very briefly by a basic tutorial. Now I, like a lot of players, like to rush in and get involved so whilst I followed the tutorial elements I didn’t pay close attention to all of the instructions. Whilst navigating the environment and fighting wasn’t too difficult (initially – it was slow to respond to input), I did manage to get lost when the bandits appeared on the hill and only managed to return to the rest of my party once they had already knocked out their foes. This was made all the more difficult by the obvious lack of a map or navigation compass. Riding around to be told “there are bandits on the hill” meant I just went forward in the direction I was headed. This proved to be the wrong way entirely.
Once the bandits were dealt with then the main part of the game became accessible. Here you are presented with a realm map, in which you can direct your horse to settlements to become involved with the villagers or townsfolk. What I found it didn’t tell me (or I missed by skimming the tutorial) was how to interact with NPC’s. Left clicking threw a punch and enter did nothing. A systematic key press system identified ‘F’ as the key that performed this function. It wasn’t until afterwards that I thought about just looking it up in the options screen.
When you arrive in the settlements your options for what to do are presented in text format. You can choose to shop, visit taverns, talk to important people, but all through text choices. In some cases, depending on choice you are presented back in the game world and able to walk around and become involved. If you choose to interact with a person of interest you are able to walk up to them and then are presented with text choices again whilst the graphic on the screen switches between your character and the person you are in conversation with. While this was not particularly stimulating graphically, it did help to drive the story forward and I found myself reading more of the interactions than I would normally have done due to rushing in to the action. This method did make me pay more attention to what I was getting my character involved with.
Once you have selected some quests, you can try and recruit party members from the taverns, or start off on some of the quests you have picked up. I found it quite difficult at the start as my party consisted of me and some of the quests had me up against 6 or 7 foes, and which I lost every time. This wasn’t as frustrating as some games due to the fact that for most of the losses I suffered at the start I was either knocked out or suffered only “flesh wounds”. This helped to keep the game flowing and was a definite plus.
What I did find difficult was the list of names and places to investigate and explore as part of the quests. One interaction with a traveller saw me asking for information about people and presented me with a list of about 30 names of which none I recognised.
This game is big, after playing only a short time I had a list of 148 locations in my info screen. I can definitely see the attraction of a game like this. It isn’t graphically amazing, nor does it have stunningly sampled voices and sound effects, but you could spend a lot of time building up your party and becoming a major force in the world provided to you. Like all good games of this genre the addiction is in the detail not the icing on top.
I was surprised in the multiplayer by the number of players and servers available I was expecting it to be difficult to find a game online but this wasn’t the case. Once online all of the traditional multiplayer games were available and I entered “Capture the Flag”. I am not a big FPS multiplayer fan and found this to be quite frustrating. I entered as a Musketman and didn’t last very long. The bit that was frustrating was the time it took to reload the musket and the action of doing so. After shooting you have to reload your musket, the problem I had with this was that I couldn’t work out whether this was automatic or required my input. Clicking on the mouse or key presses didn’t seem to make this happen and when my character did start to reload it was always just as the enemy appeared to shoot me down. As I said above, I’m not a big online FPS player so I didn’t stay around on this long (about 20 minutes) and went back to the normal game.
After playing Mount and Blade: with Fire and Sword, I still don’t think I would pick this up. I can say though that if you are into force building and heavy questing this is something that you should definitely give a go. Whilst difficult to get started with, and with its overwhelming amount of places to visit, once I was in it was difficult to put down. There was always 1 more trade to make, town to visit or quest to complete. Mount and Blade: with Fire and Sword isn’t a stunning game but it could become an addictive one.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.