If this is your first foray into the Mount & Blade games, it's definitely the best place to start, and the price isn't exactly steep. The graphics are cleaner, the game is less buggy, and there's more for you to do than in the original. But if you did buy the original and were hoping for substantial improvements in what TaleWorld are generously calling a "sequel" then you might be slightly underwhelmed. It's more of a spit-polish on the single-player mode than anything else and the multiplayer mode, while fun, is a missed opportunity.
The combat is brutal in Mount & Blade: Warband. You canít charge into battle expecting to take 20 arrows to the chest and then have your health regenerate if you just hide behind a rock for seven seconds. A few solid blows will raze even the strongest of men. If you find yourself too far ahead of your army, youíll quickly be surrounded by the enemy and subsequently, your men will have to drag you from the field. Discretion, tactics, and pace are the name of the game. You need to know when to hold Ďem, know when to fold Ďem, know when to walk away and know when to run. Also having your archers thin their numbers before your infantry reaches their front lines helps, too. It is absolutely exhilarating when you win a battle against a team that outnumbers you. And the feeling you get the first time you attempt to siege a castle is something I havenít felt with gaming since I was much younger.
The singleplayer campaign is just as great as the original, but the focus is definitely on multiplayer for this expansion. The campaign map has changed a little bit; there are now six factions, players have an expanded ability to lead their own kingdom, marry for political gain, and even force other kings into vassalage; influence from the Total War series can be seen all over the campaign. You can build up an army of thousands, rule a kingdom, a rebel army, or command a band of brigands that thrives on pillaging small villages and caravans. Quests are somewhat unimaginative and dull, but they get the point across. The roleplay element has been revitalized with the inclusion of Warband, adding more options for companions and personality conflict than expected for a war game. Itís addictive and tough to quit, just like the Multiplayer.