Thank you GamersGate for sending us this game to review!
I have been a fan of the story-less Mount & Blade series since it first came out. I liked how you could do whatever you wanted to make money and thrive in the medieval time period. The Napoleonic Wars DLC expansion takes place in the 19th century, and offers many new features to the multiplayer battlefields. Several new weapons and artillery have been added, but the swords are still there for stubborn gamers like me.
While there is a lot to gain in this title, the lack of a single player campaign is a big disappointment. There is a tutorial to teach you the basics of sword wielding, gun fighting, horse riding, and canon firing. You can also play custom battle scenarios and lead your army to victory. When I say lead them, I’m serious; they will just stand around until they are fired upon or you give them an order to charge the enemy. So basically your single player options are limited to playing the tutorial or fighting dumb AI. (You can change the AI difficulty in the game settings.)
For those who enjoyed the multiplayer elements of Mount & Blade: Warband or Mount & Blade: With Fire and Sword, you’re in for a treat! The greatest addition is the 250 player cap versus the previous 64 limitation. You can wage epic battles against humans representing France, United Kingdom, Prussia, Austria, and Russia. The new Commander Battle mode still has bots to control, but you’ll be battling against other human commanders. The winner is determined by who can survive or control the bots better.
Many other modes from the previous entries make a comeback such as Siege, Duel, Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Battle, and Conquest. Conquest is like capture the flag but you have to hold all of your enemy’s flags to win. There are plenty of servers to join, and finding an active one didn’t take much effort. Just be sure you have the latest patch or you’ll be crashing to the desktop.
When joining a server, you get to pick the side to play on, and an available job position. There are over two hundred unit types to choose from. You can be an engineer, foot soldier, artillery, or a mounted unit. Each soldier is equipped with special weapons including muskets, pistols, bayonets, rifles, swords, lances, and canons. If you're not happy with your unit’s weaponry, scrounge around the battlefield and pick up another!
The battlefields vary from open fields to close encounters inside of European villages. The building architecture fits the time period and the landscape was pretty with the flowers and plants everywhere. The environments are destructible, but I didn't find the effects convincing. The character models look decent and you can change the gender and appearance of your multiplayer character. I found it odd to see women in uniform; I didn't think they would be fighting back then.
Even if the history is inaccurate, you can't say that about the background music. There are more than forty classical background musical tracks. Again, very fitting for the time period and a welcome change to this Mount & Blade title. With that said, I'm not used to flowery classical music playing as I'm running for my life.
Why would I be running you ask? Loading a gun takes a few seconds, and standing still to do so paints a nice target on your head. If there are enemies coming at me I’ll stop reloading, zigzag, and use my mouse to switch to my sword or bayonet. Guns and canons are great from a distance, but sharpened metal is good for close combat situations.
By default the blood and gore is disabled in this game. Even when enabled it’s not gratuitous or convincing for that matter. While there is no foul language in the tutorial, you never know who you’ll be up against online. The people I have played against were polite, for what it’s worth.
The community is still flourishing and there are a good number of active clans and servers to join. If you’re big on the multiplayer component, you’ll probably enjoy this expansion. However, if you’re looking for a single player campaign, you might want to stick with Mount & Blade: Warband.