Before I get started, I would like to thank Bolgin for asking me to make a LotR Mods post on The Last Days. TLD is a Lord of the Rings mod for Mount and Blade that takes place in the last days of the Third Age.
Taking their influence from the books TLD is able to put its own spin on the world Tolkien created instead of going with the designs from the movies. There are good and bad things that come from this. Some areas are much more realistic or accurate to the books than the movies, which is very good and refreshing to see. Other things however seem to be close to what the movies have but miss the ball and seem lackluster and forgettable.
While it is nice to see a different view of the Lord of the Rings, the movies are so iconic that the areas in the game seem to leave a bad taste in your mouth. Some of this is because of the limitations of the Mound and Blade engine but it is mostly a design choice that holds the mod back. Since there is a lack of consistency it really pulls me out of the world and makes me want to play LOTRO instead of this free mod.
TLD covers the last days of the Third Age meaning that you don’t get Eriador because it is already past any events in that area. They made this decision because not much happens in this area in the Lord of the Rings. While it would have been nice to allow for scouring of The Shire, it is an understandable design decision and allows them to really focus on the bigger areas like Gondor and Rohan.
The units in TLD seem spot on as to how the books describe them. It is really cool to see the level of detail they have put into some of the units with facts from the books. You can read any descriptive passage from the books and the units will meet the requirements, which is really nice to see.
The music is great as it is created by a talented composer that clearly has a love for Lord of the Rings. It does a great job of pulling you into the world even though the zones might pull you back out.
One major problem that this mod can’t get around is that it is for the original Mount and Blade instead of the Warband expansion. This means that you can’t do certain things like choose when you want to siege a city. Instead you have to wait for an ally to attack the city then you can join them.
All in All TLD is a great mod since it is free but I would not recommend buying Mount and Blade just to play this mod. At times I will find myself wanting to play LOTRO instead of this mod because LOTRO seems to draw you into the world much better and once mounted combat comes out for LOTRO this could become a far less interesting mod.
If you are interested in buying Mount and Blade, I would recommend the stand alone expansion (Warband) instead as it is an all-around improvement on the original game. If you want a great mod for Warband I would highly recommend the mod “Nord Invasion”. The main premise behind NI is that you are fighting off hordes and hordes of Vikings as a team of 1 to 16. While it sounds generic it is far from it. It allows you to modify you to level your character over time as you advance from having almost nothing to becoming a feared foe on the battlefield. The mod also has a great crafting system with plenty of depth.
Middle Earth Network has a house (the mods version of a kinship) which allows everyone from Middle Earth Network who plays the mod to get together and play. There are many cool things that houses can do including house quests and a soon to be implemented campaign map to take over.
We use Middle Earth Networks TeamSpeak server to talk while we play and having that community really adds to the fun factor of this mod. Currently we have many esteemed people from Middle Earth Network who play this mod such as Tyler Michael Jonsson, John Di Bartolow, Bandoras, Rifflo, Locney and Andang. To join our house all you have to do is create a character with “MME_(charactername)” then E-mail me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with a request to get into the house.
The main reason why NI is so much fun is because you feel powerful even at low levels as you take down tons of Vikings. As you progress you get more and more powerful and are able to last longer and longer and eventually you might even be able to take down the Viking Prince. If you take him down you win the round and get great rewards. If things get too easy there are servers with hard mode that can be very challenging.
All and all Nord Invasion is a great mod for M&B Warband and is made even better by the people at Middle Earth Network who play it. With plenty of depth and many hours of entertainment it is amazing that it Nord Invasion is just a free mod and not a full game.