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LONG BLOG

Mounting the Blade

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I've come and gone on the topic of RPGs in the past. More often than nought, i found myself just walking away from an RPG at the right moment when it was deemed crucial to keep playing by fans (this is deemed the "it gets better" argument many fans try to use on people such as me). It doesn't matter if its an action rpg, CRPG, JRPG. Blame it on Gamer ADHD, apathy towards spreadsheet like statistics, whatever, I never really get into them.
Here is a breakdown of most of the RPG success and failures i had over the last 13 years or so.

(fail) I never played more than 3 hours worth of Baldur's gate 1 or 2. couldn't get past the gate on that one
(fail) Icewind Dale left me cold
(fail) I never spent more than a night with neverwinter nights
(success!) I loved Planescape: Torment
(success!) I played both Fallout 1 and 2 to completion
(fail) I couldn't stand Diablo and Diablo 2. They can go to hell.
(don't quite know) Morrowind kept me going for the purpose of exploring the world more than the gameplay.
(same as above) Same goes for Oblivion
(Meh!) Fallout 3 had a brilliantly realized world but the fucking writing made me decimate entire cities in the game.
(mummorperger!) WoW made me hate blizzard more than starcraft did (all their games are populist, shallow trash released with a good sense of timing.)
(Mummorperger!) not even batman could save my opinion of City of Heroes.
(Mummorper-sorta! success) I loved Guildwars however. Given my hatred of Diablo, i do find this a bit ironic..
(fail) too human was too buggy
(fail) i locked dungeon lords in a cold dark place (it was five dollars candian, how could i not buy it)> it had a brilliant concept. terrible execution, but brilliant concept.
(success!) I got my rocks off in Fable. Subsequently followed further rocking off followed by a unexpected STD in Fable 2.
(fail) Sacred and Sacred 2 were anything but.
(success) i fell massively in love with Mass Effect
(success) despite being jaded by the xbox release. Jade Empire on the PC lorded over me for quite a while
(FAIL) Final Fantasy 1,2,3,4,5,7,8,9,10,10-2,11(mummorperger!) and all subsequent spinoffs can go leap their whiny asses off a cliff.
(success?) alternatively i actually liked FF6, tactics and 12.
(fail) the persona games can just go shoot themselves
(success) Kotor. the force was strong with this one.
(fail) kotor 2... not so much
(fail) dungeon siege battled and barged its way straight into my dustbin
(n/a) i refuse to recognize Bioshock, System shock 2 or any of the RPG hybrid shooters (nolf2,Tron2.0, stalker, etc) as RPGs. despite loving each one of them to death
(success!) Pathologic can make me sick anytime
(success) deus ex. nuff said
(success) I liked deus ex invisible war. say what you want it was a decent game that got overshadowed and overcompared to its predecessor.
(fail) staroceans can go drown themselves
(fail) xenosaga made me xenophobic
(fail) Marvel Ultimate Alliance ultimately marveled me with its roster. but it still sucked huge hulk balls
(giant fork?) I was too fucking confused by monster hunter. liked it, but was fucking confused
(fail) Freedom Force freed itself from my hard drive
(success) Earthbound kept this gamer from dumping my SNES (that and zelda)
(epic fail) i left gothic well enough alone
(mummorperger!) i left anarchy online to crash and burn
(mummorperger!) I cleaned my slate of Tabula Rasa
(mummorperger!) RYL died. horribly. with spikes.
(mummorperger!) Conan Conan't
(MUMMORPERGER!!!) I reckoned i couldn't get into Warhammer Age of Reckoning
(fail?) chronotrigger ran out of time. liked the story though...
(success or fail?) though i wanted to play more, i did not have the time to be bewitched by the witcher

well i got more games and bad puns, but i best be getting on with the article.

A couple days ago, i was browsing through my EB when i came across a game that was recommended to me. It was called Mount and Blade. It was 25 bucks (thats about 15-19 quid in your lettuce-leaf yank bucks if your american. I picked it up, simple as that.
I installed the game, it took five minutes. what suprised me however was how fucking small the game was. I was blood 600 megs. six goddamn hundred megs. Not even Dungeon lords, god condemn that soul to hell, was that small.
http://taleworlds.com/

but then i started playing. and since most people won't get it at first i'll start by making a series of comparisons. It had a fairly indepth character creator like oblivion, with a generate your own backstory a la city of x and a stat based rpg system reminicient of the older fallout games.

at first i was taken aback by the bland colourless textures, average models with a disjointed head, decent but not spectacular animation, plain bad sound effects and somewhat crude overworld map. however, something immediately clicked with me. this game was fucking awesome! And not in the hyperbole filled how everyone loved oblivion, so you got to love it, type awesome. It was simply awesome.

THe game takes a relatively simple concept similar to older game such as sid meyers pirates and fallout. the world let you move from town to town and settlement to settlement with a large overworld map. you can do pretty much anything you wish. however it kept actual on foot gameplay strictly to towns and battlefields. everything on the top world is governed by resource, army, territory management and travel. it let you interact as you please with the overworld. and was a fairly simple, if deep, metagame. Then there was the town exploration segment which all takes place on foot. while there was no real story. wandering around taking quests from various lords and town elders led me to control a small militia. I went around commiting deeds most foul and good.
with all things this will lead you to combat.

combat, like fallout and pirates, once again take the role of randomized encounters, battles and sieges. however you can see enemies within a certain vicinity. the combat is simple to get and sublime in tis depth (its purely action based with a sever degree focused on physics and momentum; highground gives you an advantage with ranged weapons and calvalry and moving faster does more damage). it moves fluidly and has a considerable degree of skill involved. On top of this is the mounted combat and can officially hold the title of the first game to EVER get mounted combat right.

To heighten this is that its not you verses 5 or 6 guys, you bring forces of up to 100 player battles in the game. if you have more than a hundred people in your or the enemie's army, you keep spawning backups until one groups counter hits zero. with sufficient modding however, people have raised the max on field battle cap from 100 to 1000. Try it if you got the computer to handle it (trust me, it can't, lower the cap closer to 500 for modern comps)

What keeps this from being the typical action rpg fair is the total absence of magic in the game. this game is entirely set with real world rules. though, you can't get killed. Your party can, but you just get knocked out and dragged all over the map for a few days as a prisoner of the party that beat you.

the game, while looking like a bit of a turd or a game from 2003-2004, is a absolute blast to play and promises to keep you going for days on end.

However for people who see the following blemishes. Ther are a series of mods that help smooth the game out.

http://forums.taleworlds.net/index.php/topic,44196.0.html

I recommend the following: face textures and colorful textures. these help the game with the bland textures while at the same time preventing the game from requiring more resources and power to run. Seriously, take my word as an artist and an avid gamer. these are fucking awesome and really help the game pop more and in my opinion it's far more than enough.

however, if you do want the game to have a marked improvement in graphical quality thats not just a colour retouching. i recommend polished buildings and graphical enhancement. Polished buildings gives you better buildings and graphical enhancement is all that and and a serious texture enhancement. however these should be taken at face value as the game requires more resources to operate at this level, despite the benefits.
various sound and gameplay mods await in the game as well to make the game better and more rich sounding and playing.

I can't state enough how much you should play (and mod) this game. it is truly a gem that needs to be embraced not forgotten. download the demo, buy the game on steam or at the companies website, or the gamestore. amas and buy it. NOW
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About Bugsportone of us since 12:52 PM on 11.08.2007