Tag Archives: games

Mount and Blade: with Fire and Sword

Earlier this year I decided to give Mount and Blade a try, only because Wikipedia describes the game as a “medieval, single-player nonlinear action role-playing video game”. For the first time, before buying the game, I decided to watch the typical “Lets play” videos, to see if I would (sort of) like the game.

Before I start going on that review-tangent: There are a couple of “Mount & Blade” games around. There are: “Mount & Blade”, “Mount & Blade: Warband”, “Mount & Blade: With Fire and Sword” and (just recently released) “Mount & Blade Warband: Napeoleonic Wars”. Today: I’m mainly going over the third game (Fire & Sword), as that version seems to be universally despised by M&B fans. While concepts between all the games are generally the same, Fire & Sword introduced firearms to Mount & Blade. The firearms aspect is what M&B hardcore fans mostly despise as apparently it’s rather easy to be killed by bullets than by arrows (the main projectile weapon in the original M&B series is the bow). Additionally, Fire & Sword appears to be sort of a mod on top of the original Mount & Blade, which does not include several game enhancements introduced by ‘Mount & Blade: Warband’, significantly, the option to build your own empire.

Surprisingly, since I started out with Fire and Sword, I find the game’s mechanics actually better than ‘Warband’. Certainly, if someone fires a bullet at you, you’re either dead or barely alive. However, during battle mode, Fire and Sword forces you to strategically position your troops particularly when the odds are against you. In Warband, while it does provide the option, I’m able to singled-handedly commit genocide even when the odds are 1 to 5. Anyway.

So Mount & Blade is indeed an ‘open-ended RPG slash strategy game’. You mainly move your band over an iso-metric map, collecting as much money as you need and taking on tasks from different factions. In Fire & Sword, the factions seem to resemble factions from Russian history books (Cossacks, Moscovites and Polish). When you cross the path of other warbands, you can either attack or run away. In the case of ‘attack’, the game puts you in a 3D map, where (from a third-person perspective on your horse) you can start attacking or defending yourself against a horde of enemies. There’s an additional aspect to combat: when you’ve collected enough experience, you can actually lay sieges and attack fortresses and strongholds.

On the overall, the combination of combat (sword, firearm) and RPG elements make ‘Mount and Blade’ a compelling game to play. As a matter of fact, I’ve not had so much fun as the combat and strategy elements are unique: there is no other game around where you can ride your horse and squash people with your sword or firearm, not to mention, laying siege and attacking fortresses and that all in first person. Surely, it’s not typically an easy game and it can go on endlessly, making you (mostly) forget about tasks you were assigned by your factions and friendly commanders. You don’t get punished for missing tasks. On my famous frustration scale (if you forgot) it’s a solid 7.5. Graphically, “Mount & Blade” is not a demanding game either (and to be honest, it does look outdated) so I think you should be able to run it on yer faithful Duo Core computer with a lower-end-ish Nvidia 96xx graphics card. If you’re into sandbox games with RPG elements and you love horse riding (haha), you should probably check out the game. If you’re not into ‘one bullet can kill you’ games but like horse riding, you may want to check out “Mount & Blade: Warband”.

Pictures below the fold.

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Dragon Age: Origins

I finished my first ‘Dragon Age’ (official site, Wikipedia) run earlier this weekend, so I thought a write-up was an excellent start of the year of 2010. You may have heard of ‘Dragon Age’, most likely because it received excellent reviews. Metacritic (currently) has it listed with an average of 91 (right here), where reviewers have lauded the game with so many good reviews that it makes you wonder. Let me quote Eurogamer UK, which is a review that will reveal my thoughts about the game:

In its desperation to infuse this setting with “maturity” – be it of the sober, political kind, or the game’s painfully clumsy gore and sex – BioWare has forgotten the key ingredient of any fantasy: the fantastical. Without it, you’re still left with a competent, often compelling, impressively detailed and immense RPG, but it’s one that casts no spell.

And that’s truly it: while extremely detailed (story-line wise), the game feels boxed. If you’ve played ‘Oblivion’ or ‘Fall Out 3′, you’ll find that ‘Dragon’s Age’ is extremely linear. Ferelden is not a place you wander or roam about, it’s a place where you move from A to Z.

It has it’s good sides though: If you like long elaborate storylines, you’ll enjoy ‘Dragon Age’. If you like elaborate interaction with your party-members (and Dog), ‘Dragon Age’ will probably satisfy you. If you love micromanaging your strategy, well, if you’re a programmer, the ‘Tactics’ screen offers a variety of commands to mop up enemies in no time. And since nobody in your party really dies, there’s no way you end this game unsuccessfully.

So, the game is highly immersive and entertaining, if you’d like. However, on my famous ‘Frustration level’, I’d give it a 7: Don’t be surprised if you need to do some parts over and again: battles can be unpredictable and repetitive at times making it less fun at some stages (the ‘brood mother’ battle for example). It’s highly re-playable though, which is a plus for this game and (obviously) that is something you don’t really see a lot in the current gaming world.

On snow and games

Yesterday, we were hit by a snowstorm that apparently took everyone by surprise: After finishing shopping in the local mall, we walked and drove through the very first winter storm to hit our area. This comes right after the Weather Office’s prediction that this year is going to be the coldest Winter. Worst yet: Right on the road to the mall, for some explicably stupid reason, I decided not to bring my camera.

CBC had many reports about the elections in Russia: the most memorable report was the one about the pro-Putin youth group Nashi (BBC link only). It looks like Putin’s party will be winning which will (apparently) make him a prime minister at the end of his presidential term. If that doesn’t sound absurd.

And the last thing I want to bring attention at is the GameSpot incident. In short: a games editor/reviewer gives a game a bad review and is fired afterwards. A good summary can be found at Virtual Fools. I generally don’t read online game magazines because I don’t agree with the superfluous rating systems each of them uses: additionally, I’ve always had my doubts about magazines that review computers games and have the games’ ads prominently on display, simultaneously.