There are so many games out there that rehash the same mechanics, plots, and overall feel. To some, that is a good thing, they feel like they are in familiar territory. To others, they want a new and fresh experience to keep them invested. Mount & Blade: With Fire and Sword is one of the latter. I have honestly never played a game like it before.
With Fire and Sword is a standalone expansion to Mount & Blade. It offers up a new experience while keeping the Mount & Blade feel. This time around, you can use muskets and grenades, along with your bows and swords, to take over all of Eastern Europe.
You play as an every day 1600’s man trying to make it in a world full of siege, bandits, Czars, and knights. You gather up a band of mercenaries and create your own personal army to accomplish tasks for towns and cities. Earn yourself some coin, and you can hire deadlier mercs to add to your army.
The game takes place in two different modes: the over world and the battle areas. In the over world, it is almost like a turn based strategy game. You click where you want to travel on the map. While travelling, you may run into bandits looking to steal your goods, mercenaries out to kill, or maybe a group of friendly travelers. You can also choose to attack groups as you see fit if you’re looking for some money or equipment. Keep in mind, almost everything you do in the game contributes to how the 5 factions in the game think of you.
In the battle area, you and your team start on one side of an open area, while the opposing team is across from you. You and your team charge toward the enemies Braveheart style and the battle begins. You can attack in a number of ways. If you’re mounted on a horse, you gain a speed boost to your sword swings that can increase your damage to your enemies. Guns and bows play a large part in the combat as well. You can aim both in 3rd person and 1st person. Zooming in and controlling your movement effects your accuracy. While sword fighting, you can choose which way to swing when holding down the mouse button and pulling back in a certain direction. The game is purely physics based so depending on your speed, angle, and accuracy of your attacks. It may feel a little sluggish at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s actually really fun.
I do have to mention that the music during the battles is actually quite good. It adds to that epic feel when you’re charging your enemies. The combination just put a smile on my face.
Your character levels up after gaining enough experience. When leveling up, you gain skill points as well as attribute points that you can place in certain categories that affect the game in big ways. The standard increase in health and attack damage is there as well as bartering skills, special healing skills for recovering from battles, and many other skills that help you out in your travels. It’s very complex and very rewarding.
Quests come from talking to village elders, town mayors, and castle kings and nobles. Certain quests give you a limited amount of days to complete, but offer up a large amount of experience and money. Some quests range from delivering supplies to intercepting bands of opposing forces. There is a ton to do in the game that can keep any quest hunter on their toes.
The game offers up a versus multiplayer as well, much like in Warband. It all focuses on the battle aspects of the game. You can purchase better equipment during the match once you save enough money. With up to 64 players in a match, the game can become hectic but, at the same time, very epic. The multiplayer is a good distraction from the single player RPG, and can keep players busy for many hours.
There were a few problems I had with the game. First, the tutorial is a complete joke. It lasts all of about 5 minutes and just shows you the aspect of battles. There is no help whatsoever with the over world parts. The game just throws you into it and you have to figure out what to do yourself. Second, The graphics are rather bland. It just looks like a game from 2004. It’s not a bad thing, but even I could see age in the visuals. I have also come to the conclusion that there is no way in the world to make a character that wasn’t completely ugly. I wanted a suave, debonair warlord and all I got was a deformed looking man with a mustache named Ken Masters. And last, because the game doesn’t hold your hand at all, it makes the game difficult, even brutal at times. I can’t tell you how many times I was captured by slavers early on in the game. Obviously, the game does get easier the more you level up and hone your skills, but for beginners like me, it took a good 3 hours to finally get the hang of the entire game.
Even with the difficulty the way it is, and the overwhelming feeling you get when looking at the map for the first time, I can’t help but love the game. It really is enjoyable after you get used to how the game works. Managing your squad of mercs and leveling up your character is fun and addicting. The multiplayer is a blast and the battles just feel so epic. For $15, you really can’t go wrong with this action RPG. It will take some patience, but once you understand how the game works, you will be hooked.
Review copy provided by publisher.