Mount & Blade is a visually impressive game focused on quasi-medieval combat. Your character can be anything from a horse-archer mounted on a lightning-fast horse to a heavily-armoured foot soldier with a two-hand sword, or anything in between. While the game includes (or seeks to include) story elements, and eventually a fully-fledged storyline, the main concept at work is a simple one: Throw on some armour, grab a weapon, and kill anything that opposes you. And with the camera angle being slightly behind and above your character you get to see all the action.
Before continuing, please note that this review pertains to the 0.711 release of the game. That's right, it's still in its beta stages and is not complete. So go purchase the download now while it's less than 20 dollars! You won't regret that you did, as the finished game promises to be absolutely incredible.
StorylineAs of now there really isn't much of a storyline to speak of. Since this is the beta, not the fully-finished version of the game, it's not surprising that most aspects of the storyline are still a mystery. What we do know is that there are two major 'factions' which seem to be competing for control over the landmass of Calradia. These two are the Vaegir and Swadian factions. You can choose to join either side of the conflict, or stay neutral. Other factions include sea raiders, river pirates, bandits, black knights, and steppe nomads, though at this point you cannot join any faction besides the Vaegir or Swadians.
Considering the rather extensive 'civil war' concept already present in the game, it will not be surprising to find an extremely rich, involved storyline present in the final release of the game.
Sounds & MusicThe music for this game fits very well and is taken from a file-sharing program where you purchase a song and thus gain the rights to use it however you like. This is something I had never heard of before, but it works really well and keeps the costs down. The music is excellent for the feel and look of this game. My only complaint is that the designers, so far, have not purchased quite enough music. After a few hours of gameplay the music can become repetitive and even annoying. I've been playing this game with some frequency for quite awhile now, since the .6-something release, and I keep the music volume (a separate control from the sound effects volume, thankfully) turned all the way down to avoid the repetetive nature of the music. This is not meant as a shot against the music, however. There just needs to be more of it!
Here are some of the samples of music from the game: Sample 1 - Sample 2 - Sample 3
The sound effects are also excellent. Horses gallop, swords clash against armour or shields, and men scream as they die. Again, after some time this can become repetitive. A few variant 'death screams' would be nice to hear, as well as some variant 'clanging' noises. As is, if you strike a wooden staff against a wooden club, the noise you hear is a metallic 'clank.' That can certainly, for some, detract from the immersion in the game. I imagine that the final release of the game may include a wider variety of sound effects. Still, you have never truly enjoyed a combat game until you've listened to the rumble of 20 horses riding at one another at a furious gallop. Now that's immersive sound effects.