Mount & Blade Warband is not a looker by any stretch of the imagination, it's rough around the edges, the models are pretty poor and the textures aren't the greatest. On the plus side it does move pretty well, it's lovely and smooth and I only noticed a few instances of tearing. The story is told through a 'choose your own adventure' book kind of way. You read a bit of text then choose from a couple of options. Not that there is much of a story, there's no saving the world here, no divine destiny, just you and your mob, if you choose to have one.
All of which sounds pretty negative, but here's the rub, it isn't. Imagine playing Elite but instead of a spaceship you were a nutter with a bloody big chopper. There's no end game here, it's all about the playing. You can become a master trader by being canny and talking to barkeepers about the sweetest deals going down. You could get involved in the backstabbing unholy world of politics and work you way up, or you could just form a titular warband and conquer the land through sheer force of will. The main point to be taken on board here is that it's all very much up to you.
And here we come to the feather in Mount & Blade Warband's cap. The combat. It's hard. Really really hard. The thing is though is that this makes it twice as satisfying when you take down your opponent. The controls work really well on pad, pushing on the stick and pressing the attack button for strikes from the left and right, overhead smashes and a cheeky prod. Parrying also works in a very similar way and you'll soon find yourself locked in really enjoyable fights as you work your way through a battle. You can also engage in mounted combat (obvs) and ranged, which takes many different variables into account like your movement, range and draw.
So here we have a game in which you can control your own lands, lay sieges to kings and forge friendships of convenience, and that's not even taking into account the massive multiplayer portion of the game. Okay it might look a little 2010, but it's only fifteen quid and if it grabs you you'll be playing well into 2020. Not bad for a game about a person with a sword.