Burn, village, burn!
Mount&Blade is an action RPG developed by newcomer TaleWorlds and published by Paradox Interactive. The game takes inspiration from Sid Meier's Pirates!, putting you in a world and letting you go. To some, this is the ideal. To others, it's an overwhelming experience that could be tempered with structure that doesn't exist.
In Mount&Blade you're plopped on a world map with nothing but a horse and some mediocre equipment. From there, you can go anywhere and do anything within the limits of the game.
The setting is interesting, if a little generic. There are 4 kingdoms (and one Khanite) in the game, competing for power over the game world, and the player is free to join any of these factions as a mercenary or vassal. Or not. If so contented, the player could run around peacefully trading, hunting bandits, or indiscriminately raping the countryside.
M&B's primary selling point is its combat. There are many stats related to combat in M&B, but the mechanics are skill based more than stat based. Depending on the weapon, you have three or four directional attacks, and four directional blocks, so if you don't have a shield and you block in the wrong direction, you will be hit. Damage is based on the damage of the weapon, stat modifiers, and speed, which varies based on movement speed, direction of movement, direction and speed of your opponent. The combat (and the entire setting) is very realistic and gritty. You wont find magic or health potions here, but you will find small armies, cavalry, and quick death if you aren't prepared.
Other aspects of the game may come off as a bit limited. There are quests, but they aren't particularly interesting. The strategy aspects that were added late in the development are bare, and there is a lot of room for addition and improvement. Villages and towns have villagers walking aimlessly around town, but it does little to make settlements feel anything more than mechanical.
Still, Mount&Blade has a lot to offer. It's realistic, gritty interpretation of the world is a breath of fresh air (or stale, blood filled air, as the case may be) with the legion of poorly written high fantasy games that are out there. If you aren't afraid of making your own story in a sandbox world, Mount&Blade can easily offer hundreds of hours of entertainment.