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Mount & Blade: With Fire & Sword Features
Mount & Blade: With Fire & Sword is the second sequel to the Mount & Blade indie game franchise, and brings with it some exciting new features. The first new feature in With Fire and Sword is the inclusion of 3 coherent, epic storylines of political, economic, and physical strife. The second new feature is the balanced inclusion of post-medieval period techonology that fit the Eastern European setting...aka guns, grenades and mines. Sounds great right - who doesn't want visceral medieval combat set in the backdrop of a beautiful storyline?
Well, fans of the original Mount & Blade may be left a little wanting with some of the new additions in With Fire & Sword. It really has nothing to do with the quality of the improvements to the game, but rather the lack of any new, real substance that differentiates With Fire and Sword from its predecessors. Unfortunately, the absence of any real improvements to the computer AI, graphical quality, and battle formations may make customers a little wary of dropping an extra 20 bucks on what amount to not much more than a glorified expansion pack. With that said, there are some absolutely great things about this game that made this Mount and Blade With Fire and Sword review enjoyable.
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Is With Fire and Sword's Plot Any Good?
One of the biggest new additions to the Mount & Blade franchise is the inclusion of an evolving epic storyline that changes depending on your allegiance to different kingdoms. In regular old Mount & Blade you could support claimaints to the thrones of nations, but that never amounted to anything more than gallivanting around Calradia with their useless butts in tow.
With Fire & Sword is quite a bit different. When you join a nation, you automatically are given direct access to your storyline, which includes several different *interesting* characters. My first thought when I encountered this feature was something along the lines of..."So its a fan-fiction Eastern European setting mod?" I could not have been more incorrect about the plot lines Taleworlds has included in With Fire and Sword. They span the whole of Eastern Europe and are actually cloesly based off of the best selling Hungarian novels of the same name. The writing is well done and believable, and on more than one occassion may make you look up at the clock and suddenly realize its 4 in the morning.
While the writing is passable and sometimes engrossing, the unfortunate truth about the new epic storylines in With Fire and Sword is that they take away a large amount of the open ended gameplay of the original Mount & Blade. Features like village management, vassal micromanaging and the importance of taverns are now almost completely gone or trivialized. Still, the introduction of actual plotlines to the Mount and Blade universe is a good, and quite addiciting addition.
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What About With Fire & Sword's Gameplay?
Mount & Blade's bread and butter has always been fantastic medieval combat, two or more huge armies clashing in epic bloodbaths for honor and glory. The good news is that With Fire & Sword has more than its fair share of awesome battles in store for the avid gamer, with some interesting surprises as well.
As mentioned before, the three largest additions to the gameplay in With Fire and Sword are guns, a new multiplayer "Captain" mode, and a completely different "real" world setting. First things first, the guns. As anyone who has ever owned or fired a gun before knows, they are actually not the most reliably functional items in the world. They are heavy, hard to aim, loud, and usually more for show than anything else. With Fire and Sword's guns are somewhat similar, with the addition of being completely deadly in the hands of seasoned riflemen. The new guns in this game are all flintlock style single-shot, high-damage slow weapons best used in emergencies. There is a definite balance to the weapons, but it is still satifying beyond belief to head shot someone with a rifle while blazing past them on a war stallion. The guns are good, balanced and an interesting new wrinkle for the franchise.
The new "Captain" style multiplayer mode pits you against other army commanders in large scale battles. Basically, it is simply army vs. army combat - with Mount & Blade Warband's battle commands and AI. At this moment there are not many people playing on the servers, so it proved difficult to get an extended reading on the quality of this new mode. That should change soon though, and I liked what I saw from this mode. If some intrepid modder were to add on a permanent progression system to this mode it might be the bee's knees, but for now its merely good.
Lastly, the new world setting of a fictional Eastern Europe brings with it an interesting new landscape to explore. But the most important addition to With Fire and Sword's gameplay has to be the complete revamp of the different kingdoms, lords, and most importantly troop trees. Mount and Blade fans over the past 3 years had to cope with using the same troops over and over again, and that has thankfully changed. There are a large variety of customizable troops, and each kingdom has access to riflemen of some sort. The kingdoms are troops are balanced, yet unqiue. Unfortunately, persistent problems like hill generation on battle maps, crappy castle seige designs and frustratingly bad enemy AI stop With Fire and Sword's gameplay from being top-notch. Still, the team at Taleworlds did a stand up job translating a new setting into a successfully fair and addictive campaign.
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The FInal Verdict?
So is Mount & Blade With Fire & Sword good? Yes. Is it worth another 10 or 20 bucks? I think so, but you do need to realize that you are getting what amounts to a fantastic mod or expansion pack , not a sequel. Still, for the price - and depth - With Fire and Sword is a quality game.