RealismThere are no elves, dwarves, magicians, or trolls in this game. So realism is obviously a concern here, if a small one, due to the nature of this game being somewhat historically-minded. The game is, first and foremost, extremely anachronistic. Plate armour existing beside early crossbows and virtually stone-age 'pole-hammers.' Even so, the attempt at realism is quite noteworthy. When you're playing the game you'd really have to be a student of history to notice where this game deviates from a realistic approach. Even as a student of history my only true issue is in how badly armour slows a character down. It is entirely unrealistic for a character to be significantly slowed by armour. Besides that, the game is really quite a stunning visual of medieval combat.
The only other significant 'realism' issue is that there is no 'deflection' animation. Any hit that deals damage is shown as striking and causing blood to spew forth. At first this looks really cool, but wen you're looking at someone that is attacking you with an arrow in his eye, a javelin in his hip, and he's covered in his own blood, it starts to get silly. This game desperately needs an animation of weapons grazing the flesh or glancing off armour rather than constantly slamming dead-on into their target in showers of blood.
ValueSpeaking in terms of replay value I could go either way. On the one hand, I love playing this game. On the other hand, I do take rather lengthy breaks. Without a storyline this game can get really repetitive and uninteresting, since all you do is ride around killing things. It gets old. But after a week or two you can't help but come back and start playing again. After a real storyline is introduced I have no doubt that this game could be downright addictive.
If speaking in terms of the 'fun factor' -- then it's no contest. This game is absolutely great fun and stands as one of the games I've had the most fun with in my life.
And if speaking in terms of value for the money... well this game only currently costs 14 dollars (and I purchased it when it was 12). For 14 dollars you cannot get anything better. Mount & Blade is worth every penny of its price tag, and then some!
ModsI wanted to make a quick note about the various Mods as well. For those not "in the know," a mod is when someone changes parts of the gameplay, design of the game, extra, to give it a different feel or more features. Apparently Mount & Blade lends itself quite readily to being modified, and a quick perusal of the Mount & Blade forums will give you access to a number of excellent mods. If you ever find yourself getting a bit bored with the basic gameplay of Mount & Blade, try downloading a mod so you can enjoy M&B in a new way. I have personally downloaded and played quite a few of the mods out there and they are all quite good. These are my favourites:
- The Weapon Expansion Mod by Taleworlds forumite RR_Raptor65. I am a swords fanatic. And my favourite sword-dealer is Albion. Lucky for me because Raptor has added 34 swords to Mount&Blade, all of which are exact duplicates of Albion swords. It's amazing how much fun you can have with the same old game just by adding more weapon choices.
- The Last Days mod by Taleworlds forumite Ancientwanker. This is a Lord of the Rings mod for M&B and it is amazing. There's nothing like playing a Gondorian knight destroying the forces of Mordor. This mod is currently the most elaborate I'm aware of and includes a system for actually destroying factions, something you cannot do in basic M&B.
- The Hundred Years' War mod by Taleworlds forumite -GandalfTheGrey. Excellent, extremely fun mod based on the Hundred Years' War (obviously). If you hate the French as much as I do... join the English and help Edward the Black Prince teach those snooty bastards a lesson or two.
- The Magnificent Seven mod by Taleworlds forumite Ancientwanker. This mod is actually now defunct, as it does not function in the newest version of Mount & Blade. However, it may at some point be revised and updated, so it was worth mentioning, as it was extremely good.
VerdictMount & Blade is an excellent game if you're interested in a bit of medieval bloodshed. The lack of storyline in the current version, as well as your inability to employ complicated battle tactics, may be frustrating for some. But overall, the game is quite enjoyable and future releases promise new features not yet implemented, so keep on the lookout for that.