Same Game but with Guns
Mount and Blade: With Fire and Sword the third game of the Mount and Blade series has the feel of its predecessors and still is the same strategy action role playing game. Do not come into this expecting anything brand new or completely changed from the other games.
There is not as much new in terms of game play, but in this one there is actually a story. You will try the unite 1600s eastern Europe under one of the five playable factions in the game which are the Cossack Hetmanate, Kingdom of Sweden, Polish Commonwealth, Crimean Khanate, and the Tsardom of Muscovites. However, the story is very loose and is constricted to only three of the factions and those being the Cossacks, Polish Commonwealth, and the Tsardom.
As said before the game is very similar to its predecessors. There are certain additions such as the introduction of firearms, new options on how to siege, and many new units to train. On the battlefield side of things, it is a welcomed change that it is much easier to command and move around units as well as focus fire. The player can actually move units in formation and tell units to fire on command or whether the left, right or center mass of units should fire. Watching the battle unfold and seeing so many units on-screen fight is still exciting. The actual fighting part still leaves something to be desired. It is understandable as to why the controls are the way they are, but at the same time combat feels really stale.
The quest system remains the same as in the previous games which consists of fetch, delivery-boy-esque, follow the leader sort of quests. Many of the quests or actually all of them feel pretty unrewarding since you will be doing the same type of quests many times over throughout the game. Good thing is, you don’t have to ever do a quest as none of them are mandatory and the only consequence to most quests is lost favor with whoever assigned the quest or certain companions you may have. The lack of variety and actual significance is what kills the sense of taking on a quest.
The game still operates on the overworld map and combat on the combat map. Not much changed here. The overworld map still never seems to zoom out far enough. So unless you want to memorize the location of towns, navigating through eastern Europe to find certain village or towns might become a hassle. Playing long enough, you will manage to memorize location names, but it would be nice if there was a world map you could buy in-town.
There is a kind of a lack of tutorial as the game, like in the others, throws you in the fray from the get go. It’s overwhelming once you hit the over-world and try to figure out what you have to do first. With Fire and Sword lacks in direction and does not really help the player in getting used to the game and forces the player to learn as they go. That makes it easy for the player to overestimate themselves in the beginning and easily lose in early combat scenarios. The game takes a lot of time and patience before anything starts to pick up, before you’re finally able to field a large army. Once you are able to finally get to that point, you are either going to start loving the game or get completely tired of its repetition.
None of the older Mount and Blade games are known for their graphical prowess and brilliance and With Fire and Sword there is again not much of a difference. It is fine for what it is especially considering the amount of ambition in the overall game. It makes sense that graphics are not the top priority. The animation for characters are okay at best, everyone looks a bit stiff, but once the battle begins you hardly notice it and the larger the battles the less you will notice. The overworld map could use some work which would help navigate it a lot easier.
The game shows much premise, but doesn’t exactly deliver. The game is complex, but it starts off messy and becomes tedious. Only as you get used to the game and its mechanics does it become fun and it takes many hours to get to that point. A stronger sense of direction and polishing and refining game play mechanics will help this game a lot. With Fire and Sword is just like it the other Mount and Blade games, not many games let you do what these games do. It is definitely not a game for everyone since it takes a lot of patience and time to get to the good part.s
Even if this review comes off as being overall negative, I still came out having a good time playing it, but of course it takes time and the time when you start having fun will vary from player to player.