Party like it’s circa 1999.
I’ve heard a lot about Mount and Blade, not this particular version or edition mind you. Though it’s a game I’ve heard echoes in the halls of PC players as a fun multiplayer jaunt and political war like experience. Ok sure, fair enough. I’ve spent some time with the console version over the weekend and as most know sometimes console versions come across as the weaker version of PC titles, either in the visual department or stripped gameplay. Good news is it appears most of the features from the PC version are here, bad news is, it doesn’t feel like it’s been optimized for console versions at all, visuals or controls, which is a bummer.
Take over the land or take down your friends
The first thing that will immediately hit players on the nose is the user interface and the graphics. From plain text menus and visuals that made games in 1999 look cool, Mount and Blade didn’t offer much of a great first impression. Doing the tutorial didn’t make things any better, with rough controls, v-synch issues, and just an overall poor presentation. Obviously games of this nature are not something that should be judged on the merits of a tutorial, granted, I honestly can’t say I felt it got any better for lack of trying.
Price I’d Pay: $3.00
How long to beat: 30+ hours
See, beneath the visuals and oddities of Mount and Blade seem a rather robust system. Moving from town to town, questioning folks via in game menus, sometimes getting the option to explore locations if necessary, or doing battle with a large recruitment of men and woman. There is a core game that is both deep and ultimately satisfying here. It’s just covered with a thick pair of glasses, smudged with grease, and no matter how hard I tried to keep wiping the smudges away, the game reminded me just how tough it’s going to be trying to play this.
Controls when fighting rely on the right stick and trigger button, yet that stick controls the camera. I can’t begin to describe how often I’d be fighting and looking towards the sky or the ground. Same with trying to defend. It’s a novel idea that one tries to add depth to fighting that usually requires a simple hit of a button. Yet at what point is it ok for usability of mechanics to suffer because of inventive new control ideas? Honesty, if the idea sounds better on paper than it does in the game, it might be a sign. This could be easily overlooked and even dealt with to enjoy the fundamentals of the core game; as stated before, they are quite deep in ways. Yet dealing with all these issues, adding on the bare bones menu interface which also seems to have been ripped right from the PC version, pointer and all, and it’s a bit much to take.
There are some online modes to fight against huge armies of people or more intimate death matches, but I could barely find more then 4 or 5 people when trying to test it out. The one match I did, had us running around, with the awkwardly weird combat, and it was more laughing if anything.
Ambitious but past the expiration date
I really can’t stand talking down about videogames. It’s an industry and hobby that I truly love. That said, I can’t overlook all the issues for the console versions of this game. It feels like very little was done to make it a more streamlined console version. From menus, to font size, controls, and more. It looks extremely dated, like something that somehow got shelved in the early 90’s. It’s got a lot of depth, at least more than expected for a game of this visual style and setting. Just everything that tries to shine is muddied with everything else. I could only recommend this to those with morbid curiosity in what a game with huge ambitions might have been like long ago, but then even still, other games at the time would have outclassed this.
Favorite moment: Going with my troops across the battlefield, killing my enemies, and my team yelling in victory. It was charmingly amusing.
Worst moment: The user interface, lack of voice work, and just overall visual and mechanics.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.