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Mount & Blade: A Preview
corwin, 2005-04-28

Do you enjoy a good RPG where you control your character's development from start to finish? Do you enjoy a game where you have lots of skills to choose from as you develop your character level by level?  Do you enjoy creating a character where you have complete control over how he or she looks? How about a system for shaping the character's face that is as good as if not better than ‘The Sims 2'?

Now, would you enjoy an action game with tons of combat? How about a trading game where you can buy goods cheap in one place and sell them for lots more in another? Interested in Horses? How about being able to use them for trading, or if you wish, ride them around and even fight from horseback against both foot soldiers and other horsemen? Ever wanted try your skill with a lance against another mounted knight?

Do you enjoy the strategy genre; building, training and deploying troops and armies in pitched battles against foes often greater in number than your own forces? Do you crave the feeling of success that only comes from staging a large campaign against overwhelming odds, or do you prefer the quiet challenge of completing a variety of both simple and complex quests?

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Well, if you answered YES to any or all of the above, I have a game for you to try!! It's called Mount&Blade and is available from www.taleworlds.com Currently it's in what you might call a continuous ongoing Beta, but you can download a demo/trial version for free and it's only about 37 MB. Actually you get the full game, but in the trial version you only get to take your character to level 6. After that, you have to purchase a Key to continue the game.

Would you like some more good news? Currently this Key will only cost you about US$10. When the game is fully complete, the cost will be US$25. However, if you buy now, you will get all the updates and eventually the full game at this discount price!

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So, after this great build up, does the game really deliver? The simple answer is Yes. Oh, while the graphics are reasonable, they are definitely not cutting edge, but when you consider the entire development team consists of two people, they are quite impressive. There's lots not yet complete in the game; it's definitely still a work in progress, but what is encouraging, is the support of fans at the website who are offering valid criticism, help and useful suggestions for what else needs to be included in the very active forums.

Combat is at times quite challenging, especially on horseback, but the game not only offers a training tutorial, but an arena where you can safely hone your skills and even make a little money on the side through betting on yourself. There's heaps of weapons, armour, miscellaneous objects to buy and sell, as well as a wide variety of horses you can purchase and ride.

There's not much real story there yet, and there's still a large number of placeholders present, such as the interior of most of the towns, but all of that is still to come. What I can say, is the game is very stable (pardon the pun), addictive and lots of fun. At the very least, give it a try; you can't go wrong. Now, if I can just manage to kill or incapacitate the seven pirates trying to attack me, I can rescue some militia, add them to my forces and make a little money selling the surviving pirates as slaves!! Pretty soon, I might have enough gold to afford that magnificent warhorse I've seen for sale!

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