Mount & Blade with Fire and Sword Review
‘Fire and Sword’ is the latest stand-alone expansion of the ‘Mount & Blade’ Action/RPG series.
If you aren’t aware of ‘Mount & Blade’, it’s an award winning title originally released in 2008, and was unique for quite a few lovely reasons, most of them being that it’s an open-sandbox, action/RPG, based in a medieval world, with FPS combat utilising all manner of satisfying, bone crushing and flesh slicing melee and ranged weapons, such as bows, swords, spikes, hammers and much more. If that weren’t enough, combat is either on foot or horseback too.
Then there was ‘Mount & Blade: Warband’, released in 2010, which expanded the concept of the first game to include many significant enhancements, such as improved graphics, game mechanics, more freedom in single player and the introduction of various multi-player game modes. These multi-player modes soon spawned some very popular mods; two of which are ‘Mount & Musket’ and ‘Russian Civil War’, both of which added guns to the mix.
And now we have ‘Fire and Sword’. The storyline is extremely well researched and based on the novel ‘With Fire and Sword’, written by Nobel-prize winning author, Henry Sienkiewicz. The backdrop is 17th century Eastern Europe, during the Khemelnysky uprising and this new century brings with it advanced methods of killing and maiming in the form of firearms such as muskets, pistols and grenades. The single player campaign is once again set In an open-sandbox combat/RPG world, within which the player is the protagonist and hence chooses allies, enemies, provinces to conquer, castles to siege and what quests to embark on.
What’s new gameplay wise though? I hear the rage-faced man in my caffeine soaked mind ask. Well, quite a lot. There are new options to choose before besieging a town or castle, fully customizable armies, new quest types, increased political options, a new economic system, and multiple endings. Told you there were a lot.
Now, what with the single player campaign being so immense in size, and subsequently taking rather a long time to complete, I can’t review it, as I haven’t even scratched the surface yet. What I have done is spend around an hour using the incredibly detailed and versatile character creator to render an uncannily accurate 17th century version of myself, befriend a town leader and slaughter some capitalist bandits.
I can also tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed the entire, massive ‘Warband’ single player campaign and if it’s as good, I’ll be happy. I’m quietly expecting it to be even better though. Ostensibly, this is a multi-player review.
Ahhhhh, the multi-player modes. These are the gems that can make or break a game.
The advent of easily accessible broadband internet has brought us beautiful, high quality online, multi-player gaming experiences this past decade, and that’s what we expect. Again, at this point, I feel compelled to write about how much fun I’ve had playing multi-player ‘Warband’ in the past year, but this isn’t a review of that game, so I won’t. Fortunately though, I’ve played around 10 hours of multi-player ‘Fire and Sword’ this week, so feel at least a little experienced.
There are several MP game modes; the traditional Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Duel, Conquest, Siege and Battle, as well as a new edition named ‘Captain Team Deathmatch’. ‘CTD’, as I have just decided to call it, has players each commanding a squad of 3-24 soldiers, with around 8 human commanders on each side.
Commanders then purchase squads and equipment with gold earned from killing enemies. The size of squads and number of human players is variable.
That’s not where I’ve spent my 10 hours playing this week though. Oh no. Around 3 hours has been playing CTF. Now, I’ve always loved CTF games, whether it’s UT2K4, Q3, CSS, COD, BFBC, TF2 etc. I just love the whole concept; the way teams are forced to divide in to offence and defence, the subterfuge required, the sheer competitiveness and the endless re-playability. ‘Fire and Sword’ successfully implements all of the above and also adds combat on horses and ye olde style weapons of mass destruction. As with previous M&B games, players can fully customize their loadout using available gold at the start of matches or between re-spawns.
The remaining 7 hours of my online ‘F&S’ play this week was spent in ‘Battle’, ‘Siege’, ‘Team Deathmatch’ and ‘Captain Team Deathmatch’ MP modes. These are all extremely good fun. All the modes contain the old favourite weapons: bow and arrows, sabres, long swords, pikes and the same goes for a decent selection of armors and shields. By now you may have guessed that you can add muskets, pistols and grenades to the equation for good measure. There are currently 15 new multi-player maps to boot (I’m not really sure what ‘to boot’ means, but lets go with it.)
As far as actual game play is concerned, which I define as meaning to play the game, I find it a positive experience all round. The settings options are highly comprehensive and customisable, meaning the experience can be tailored for your rig and preferences, and the actual mechanics of the game are excellent. The feel of the weapons is pretty darned awesome. It’s surprisingly difficult to describe the experience of slicing someone in half with a sword or axe, and I’ve never tried it in real life, but for the purposes of this game, lets say it’s a of fusion of a crunch, a thud and a squelch – bloody great . The firearms are well balanced and don’t give players using them an obvious advantage, this is because they are incredibly slow to re-load, not very accurate, there is limited ammunition and this is the17th century for chrissakes.
It’s worth mentioning that in my experiences this week the servers have been healthily busy and players good humoured.
Did I mention you can ride a horse and kill people?
Fire and Sword is developed by Taleworlds and published by Paradox Interactive.
AMD 4200+ X2 2233 MHz CPU
ATI HD4670 512mb GPU
Windows XP SP3