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This game is definitely worth it at twice the price. I've been playing it for several years, since it was in Beta.
Mount and Blade is a medieval tactical combat simulator with elements of an RPG and an economy game. The game's name is a very accurate description of what the game is. While infantry combat is fully present the game's focus is on mounted combat, from lightly armed skirmishers on ponies, to deadly steppe archers with compact recurve bows, to heavy knights on armoured destriers running down hordes of infantry men with couched lances.
You can alter the difficulty from a fun arcade hack and slash to a brutally difficult simulation where you must use smart tactics to defeat enemies while personally engaged on the field. The interface for controlling your troops is limited, but powerful, and provides a good approximation of the amount of control you could get when your communication system is limited to shouting and blowing trumpets.
The AI is fairly smart. Instead of masses of units represented by a single icon each soldier on the field is an individual, making his own decisions, swinging his weapon, blocking attacks, and carefully picking shots with his bow. The AI troops will attempt to use their weapons to best advantage. Horse archers will ride circles around the enemy, peppering them with arrows, while heavy knights crash into lines of infantry, scattering men left and right.
You lead the fighting personally with your own avatar. You can upgrade your characters stats as he gains experience, improving skills from swordsmanship to siege craft to leadership to prisoner management. While you become more powerful, you'll never become an unstoppable monster. At the higher difficulty levels and with the number of combatants set into the hundreds even the best player will be glad for the support of his heavy cavalry.
When you're not personally running down serfs and kicking some foreign lord's teeth in you can explore the world map. Here the great nations of Calradia fight out dynamic wars in real time, allying together, grathering mighty armies, raiding their enemies towns and farms, besieging their cities, capturing prisoners, and even concluding piece treaties and hostage exchanges. You can visit the great cities to participate in tournaments, find companions who will lead your troops in battle, speak with the lords and nobles of the land, or browse the markets for arms, armor, horses, or trade good that you might sell for a profit. You can take jobs from the local guilds, but you'd best be careful wandering at night, lest you be set upon by thugs on your way back from the tavern.
When you first recruit a soldier they'll likely be mere peasants, armed with farm tools at best. As time passes, however, they'll improve both in statistics and equipment, such that a lowly peasant who survives many battles might become a knight or a master longbowman. The player can learn skills like first aid or surgery to keep his troops alive, leadership to convince more men to follow him into battle at lower wages, or training so that he can take a handful of serfs and turn them into drilled spearmen before they ever meet their first enemy.
On top of that, the game is well suited for modding, and a number of mods are available, ranging from historical conflicts to fantasy battles.