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Most strategy games have you working as some kind of commander-god, floating over the battlefield and handing out orders to nameless minions while building up your stronghold. In the PC strategy game Mount & Blade, you move and command your party, capture bases, and expand your territory... but you're also a fully-controllable warrior, dishing out punishing blows against your opponents right next to your carefully raised army. Mount & Blade: Warband, the second game in the PC series, is now available for the NVIDIA SHIELD and other Tegra 4 devices.

In Mount & Blade, you start off as a penniless adventurer, slowly recruiting and improving units to make a name for yourself in the fictional land of Calradia. As your army and your own battle skills improve, you can graduate from challenging bandits and thieves to full-on war parties, or join one of the six world factions yourself. The end goal of the game is to help your faction conquer the entire map, made up of hundreds of towns, castles, and fortified cities. Or you can take over land by yourself, becoming a ruler the old-fashioned way, or stab your commander in the back like a polygonal Littlefinger.

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There's plenty of strategy to be found in the selection and improvement of your units, to say nothing of choosing which faction to serve or fight. But Mount & Blade really shines during the closed combat sessions, when multiple armies clash and you're in the middle of the melee. You'll have to use your own skills in one-handed or two-handed weapons, bows and cross bows, throwing axes and spears, and don't forget good horsemanship. The combat interface for Mount & Blade on the PC was hard to get into, but allowed for precision fighting - it will be interesting to see how the developers adapt the mouse and keyboard controls to the SHIELD and touchscreens.

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Mount & Blade: Warband also introduced a multiplayer component. This mode is all-action, no strategy - basically you've got a 64-person team deathmatch with medieval weapons and armor. There are a few diverse modes including siege attack and defense, but the multiplayer aspect is much better suited to quick rounds than hours of playtime like the singleplayer. That said, there are plenty of PC players who love the multiplayer action and play it exclusively.

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The Android version of the game doesn't look quite as good as the PC version, which wasn't exactly pretty in the first place. But the game saves system resources for real-time battles with hundreds of infantry, cavalry, and archers. The series can be punishingly difficult, and it's very hard for first-timers to get into it, but those who stick with it will find a deep and satisfying strategy game with plenty of sword-swinging action to boot. Mount & Blade: Warband is $6.99 at launch, which is pretty reasonable considering the price of the original game. There are no ads or in-app purchases. Don't have a Tegra 4 device? Check out the free PC demos of the Mount & Blade series as a consolation prize.

Michael Crider
Michael is a native Texan and a former graphic designer. He's been covering technology in general and Android in particular since 2011. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

  • Guest

    These Tegra exclusive games make me want to never buy a Tegra device. No need for this crap on Android.

    • SYNYST3R1

      This is an android game yet most people can't play it. It's dumb to split up android into different systems and have exclusives. It's not like IOS vs android.

      • OSagnostic

        No its NVIDIA vs Qualcomm.

        NVIDIA is trying to maintain a foothold in the SoC market (at least in mind share if not market share).
        Android is now big enough to handle a certain amount for fragmentation (competition) in the same way PC gaming handles the NVIDIA & ATI battle.
        The innovation benefits should outweigh any fragmentation concerns.

        • palaise

          You sure it's nvidia vs qualcomm ? Because even my old Tegra 2 phone can't even play Tegra 4 exclusive game.

          • renz

            of course it cannot. not because it is tegra but because the lack of raw performance

        • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

          So far I see nothing but bullshit race to the biggest number of cores and clock speeds rather apthan any real innovations in the SOC market

        • Damak9

          Is it really the same way the PC handles competition? Because I am not aware of any games that work on Nvidia GPU's only, or the other way around.

          • http://portablegamingregion.com/ PortableGamingRegion

            It's probably a timed exclusive, just like Arma Tactics was.

          • BBXiong

            not the same way, PC version, nVidia or ATi pays the developer to optimize for one of the company much more than the other one, so that with the same range card, one can run 10-20% faster than the other. But in terms if running the game, it has no problem at all

    • Palindrome

      I'm not game developer so I don't know what make developers making games for Tegra platform first. Maybe they got paid by Nvidia. Or maybe developing for Tegra gpu was easier (close resemblence to PC gpu ?). I don't know.

      If anyone an experienced Tegra developer, would you mind speak up here to explain, what makes it preferable to develop for Tegra when it's only comprise a fraction of Android ecosystem ?

  • Brin

    Wow. My 2nd favourite PC game on Android. Fuck yes.

    • http://kawangeek.com/ EddyGeek

      and you totally gonna say the 'F' word again because its only for Tegra 4

      • dankdarko

        rightfully so.

  • David Hart

    It's a good day to own a shield.
    PS, they can be picked up second hand for less than $200

  • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

    That fucking Nvidia...

  • Kashmieer

    Ragers gonna rage. I am using Qualcomm now but I always loved Tegra chipsets. Congratz Nvidia. It is starting to head up.

  • Guest

    This better be mount and blade. I already wasted 250 dollars on the NVidia shield when I could've bought a PS4 or a desktop. So far, all the exclusive games are either boring after a while, or flat out copies of other games. (Most of them copy Gears of War.) It said that you could play on the go with great graphics, but I might as well bring a poorly conditioned PS2 with a broken screen. If this is actually Mount and Blade, then I will forgive wasting 250 dollars. If not, say hello to the back of my closet.

    • Guest

      Sorry, I mean 200, but still that is a lot wasted.

    • Name

      So get some emulators. The Shield is ideal for them.

    • Hobs

      It's surprising how many people aren't enjoying their shield experience. I know everyone is entitled their own opinions but with a single band Linksys E2000 I've experienced good quality streaming almost throughout my entire 2000 sq foot house with very little degradation to quality.. I enjoyed streaming so much I took it to the next level by investing in a cronusmax and a avermedia gamestream card so I could stream PS3/360 games as well. Combine that with remote streaming through shieldproxy and I can play ps3 games in a mcdonalds while my kids play in the play area (Of course some latency comes in remotely but fine for many games I play) Of course I also spend a lot of time with emulators and some time with actual android games but I bought this for streaming and I do everything I can to maximize my experience and regret nothing. I imagine the shield has been a dream for anyone who ever has been nagged to spend more time away from the computer and now they can and enjoy their favorite past times.

      • Beardaster

        Completely agree. I've barely even started through my _GBs_ of MAME ROMs because I've been enjoying game streaming so much. Haters gonna hate has never been more true.

  • http://www.youtube.com/crisr82 Kristian Ivanov

    I wonder if GLTools will work with this one...

  • Mackovich

    Well... Although I enjoy exclusives to Tegra platforms (I'm an Nvidia lover ^^) This is troublesome because my only Tegra 4 device is a Asus TF701T. Apparently it is not compatible lol

    I really liked that game. I might even play it again. But seriously how's the gameplay on a touchscreen??

  • Richard Markert

    And TaleWorlds goes on the list of Developers I Will Never Support.