(screenshots from GamersGate)
This seems to be a great time of year to buy computer games. If you haven't spent all your money on tinsel - or on GOG.com's great holiday sale - take a look at this offer from GamersGate: Mount & Blade: Warband at 66% off, or only about ten dollars.
I bought the original Mount & Blade in 2008, and it's great fun. It's basically an open-ended medieval combat sim, but what it does, it does extremely well. The mounted combat is especially fun. No other game has even come close to getting mounted combat right. (I don't mean realistic, because what do I know about mounted combat? No, I mean fun!)
I was terrible at it - I still am - but that made no difference at all. It's still a hoot to play. True, after awhile, I get tired of constant combat (admittedly, I get tired of all games after awhile). So I'll put the game aside for awhile. But I always come back to it. No other game really comes close to this kind of gameplay.
The developer, TaleWorlds, was originally just a husband and wife team from Turkey, I believe. They released the sequel, Mount & Blade: Warband, in 2010. I didn't buy it, not then, because it didn't seem to be very different from the original. Better graphics, yes. And an online multiplayer option,... but I don't play multiplayer games. But now, for only $10, this is going to be a no-brainer.
Note that there are some changes which improve the single-player game, besides just the better graphics (which aren't good enough for graphics whores, in any case). Now, you can start your own faction, even becoming a king yourself. You can woo and marry a noble lady. (I'm not sure about the options for female characters.) And there are apparently more options for improving your own lands.
I've heard that the game is somewhat harder than the original, and that's certainly nothing I need. I always played on the easiest game settings, and that was still none too easy for me! And note that the game doesn't hold your hand. In the original, at least, your character is dumped down in the wilderness with a broken-down horse and a few rusty weapons, and you're free to do whatever you want from there.
To some of us, that's glorious freedom. For others, it's just confusing, since you're not told what to do. Well, it takes all kinds.
Nevertheless, even if this isn't your kind of game, I think you'll find your $10 well spent. Even just as an idle break from what you normally play, it's likely to be a really nice change of pace. And you don't have to play long. You can just jump back in for a battle or two, occasionally.
...Because, make no mistake, this is a combat game. There are some welcome RPG features, but it's not a full-fledged fantasy world (certainly not without loading a mod). This game is about lancing enemies from horseback. It's about shooting people in the face with arrows. It's about wielding a sword and shield in desperate battle - and commanding your troops at the same time.
But what it does, it does very well, and it's lots of fun. At least, the original game was, and this one isn't supposed to be much different. (Note that I'm not, normally, a fan of this kind of game, either.) For $10, it's worth an upgrade. And if you don't have the original, $10 will get you a really fun game, even if you're as bad at this kind of thing as I am.
PS. Note that the With Fire and Blade expansion to Mount & Blade: Warband is also on sale at GamersGate at 66% off, or for about $5. This isn't a standalone product. It requires Warband to play it. The expansion changes the setting to Eastern Europe during the 17th Century and adds primitive firearms.
Apparently, this started as a mod to the original game, and it changes the gameplay quite a bit. So it's not as popular among many gamers. That's probably inevitable, and for $5, it's probably worth trying. Yeah, lots of "probablies" there, huh? The fact is, I just don't know.