Title: Mount&Blade with Fire and Sword
Release Date:May 03, 2011
Publisher (Developer): Paradox Interactive (TaleWorlds)
ESRB Rating: “Teen” for language, blood, alcohol and violence.
Pros: Very open ended, join lots of factions and team up with lots of people also tons of side quests.
Cons: Very difficult, often outnumbered in battle and it takes a while to get into.
Overall Score: On thumb Up, One Sideways; 86 out of 100; B; * * * ½ out of 5
Wars are brewing all around you you need an army. A very large army.
You will win some and you will lose some but, in the end, you can claim the throne of Calradia. With the addition of new weapons and factions your possibilities are even more endless (if such a thing is even possible) so don’t hold back now.
So Many Factions, So Little Time
With Fire and Sword is a standalone expansion to the Mount & Blade series. You choose either a man or woman, customize them however you want and then build up your army. Along with getting army members you will need to make some much needed thalar (money) by doing side quests and winning battles all while trying to get on the good side of various kingdoms so they will be willing to help you out.
You begin without any reputation so you need to visit lots of towns and kingdoms and complete quests for them. Eventually your reputation will grow and you can start to join factions and do special missions for lords and mayors. You can recruit men from lots of towns to help you out but they will want to be paid each week (plus you have to pay them to get them to join) so money is very important.
By talking to town elders and leaders you can get missions and quests that will pay but you also make money by attacking bandits and looters you see walking around the field and winning money from the battle. You can also sell the goods you take off of them. You don’t have to be benevolent either, you can become a bandit yourself and attack villages and kingdoms and overthrow them. Or you can do a bit of both sides.
The battles are all real-time and you only have control of your character. You can, however, give commands to your army or just let them run amuck on the enemy. You can even let them attack without you which is helpful if you are low on health – but this option doesn’t always ensure a win. You can arm yourself and your army with tons of different weapons and you can even choose to specialize in different things like guns, explosives, or one and two handed weapons while getting bonuses and upgrades. You can also upgrade your army members to different types of militia. When you are victorious your men do an awesome victory cheer.
There is also grand, very open multiplayer version to this game that lets you team up with people all over the globe.
Who’s Gonna Join Your Battle?
When you enter a town or kingdom you are given a brief overview of the town through a “choose your own” style text layout (sort of like a text adventure). You see how rich or poor they are, what your reputation is there and rumors which are usually just silly little things that happen in the town. Then you have several options such as “talk to village elder,” buy supplies, or ask if there are any people to recruit. You can also choose to just walk around in the town and talk to people. You can also “take hostile action” which involves attacking the town and most likely being killed by the towns members if you aren’t strong enough to fight them. In kingdoms you have the same options but you can also talk to the Prince or Lord and ask them for special assignments.
I mentioned you can join factions as well, be aware that if you join a certain faction, then other opposing factions will not like you and you will be attacked when you go near or in the towns and kingdoms. Also, if your faction gets taken over by the opposing one, then you will also no longer be welcome there. This can be a problem if you owned land or invested money into the banks of that faction as it will not be easy to get it back.
This game is not easy and takes a long time to get use to. I spent the first hour or so wandering around aimlessly not knowing what I was suppose to do. You also start out with only 30 thalar and no weapons or armor so be careful when walking around because if you are attacked by looters or bandits you will be massacred. You can recruit people to help you out in battle but they cost 10 thalar each and even more if they are special militia that you recruit in the taverns or from barracks.
Having a big army doesn’t always guarantee victory in battle. Often the other army will be bigger or stronger and take out most, if not all of your men before you can retreat. If you and your whole army are wiped out then you are taken prisoner for several days which means loss of days and often times most of your thalar. Fortunately, you are never killed and eventually can escape with your life. This can be very frustrating if you were doing a mission that needed lots of thalar or had to be done soon.
You can also take your enemies as prisoners and either sell them as slaves, get them to join your army or, if they are nobles, you can collect them as bounty for kingdoms. You have no control over who you take, however, as the game determines the prisoners after a battle so, if you are trying to get prisoners, your only option is to keep fighting. Also, they won’t always join your army so sometimes you have to let them go or sell them.
Victory Is Only the Beginning
This game is very big and there was so much I couldn’t include in the review for space sake. This is a difficult game even with the easy difficulty settings and you will need lots of patience to prevail. My advice is to pick the option to be able to exit without saving in case you really mess up (although the game still autosaves). If you are up for a challenge then this game can quickly become fun and very enthralling. Once I got into it I started having a lot of fun and tried to overcome the annoyance of the difficulty factor.
You don’t need to own any of the other Mount & Blade games to play and you don’t even really need to play them to understand this game, although it may give you an advantage. This game is so open ended that you are ensured a unique experience every time you play.