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No. of Recommendations: 2
I've been playing Mount and Blade for quite a while now, and actually spent a ridiculously large portion of yesterday playing it, so I feel qualified to comment.

To expand on Simon's comments...

The siege warfare is not quite as exciting as you think. Basically you run up a ladder or a ramp or there's a tower depending on which castle/town you're attacking. At the top are the baddies, at the bottom are you and your mates. You have to overwhelm them and force your way in, whilst trying not to get shot in the face by the archers on the battlements. It's definitely fun, but it's not exactly complicated siege warfare.

The quick access to various points in the towns is definitely a plus. No wandering around looking lost unless you actually want to.

Building up an army is definitely a major part of the game. The more famous you become and the more Charisma you develop the more people you can lead. I currently have an army about 85 strong, plus garrisons in various castles/towns. Captured prisoners very rarely come over to your side in significant numbers, which is annoying, but that's life I guess.

Character creation is fine, and there's quite the wide choice in where to spend your experience in terms of what skills to develop. I tend to go with guys on horseback with big pointy sticks who can also fire arrows... Charging through the enemy crossbowmen on horseback, spearing one of them on the way and knocking the rest over for your own archers to turn into pin cushions is all sorts of fun.

The combat is actually I think very well done. One tip though is to not fight against the Kerghits (mongol horde equivalent) because they are all on horseback, and they're mostly faster than you, and they run away whilst plinking arrows at you. Which is annoying. Much more fun to pick on the Nords or Rhodok who are pretty much infantry only. You can easily adjust the difficulty level on the fly though if things get too tough, but I've found the default settings a bit too easy once you get used to it and find some useful tactics.

The start of the game is definitely challenging. You need to recruit as many farmers as you can and get them trained up asap (training skill is one of the most important in the game I've found). You also need to shoulder the majority of the fighting burden yourself especially at the start.

In terms of scale, the game is enormous. I just started a rebellion within the biggest biggest kingdom in the land and am running around capturing towns and castles willy nilly whilst convincing the Lords to come over to my side. Great fun. I'm always short of money though, which is annoying, troops are expensive!! There are also a lot of user created modules which you can use for either expanding the game, or playing an entirely different game with the same engine underlying it, so there's plenty of replayability.

I definitely recommend trying out the demo at least. The combat is the main portion of the game, and no-one has ever done the horseback combat nearly as well as this before in my opinion. If you like it it's probably worth shelling out for the game, if not then it definitely isn't!

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