Sims Medieval

9.0 Overall Score

Written by on May 12, 2011 in

Lords and Ladies come hither and I will tell the tale of my adventuring.  The folks at Electronic Arts have set forth to provide a game of good fortune and tragedies most epic. ‘Tis the age old tale of the simulated world set in a time medieval.  Or in the modern parlance, the Sims have gone Medieval.  For those who have played more hours than they would ever willingly admit of the other Sim’s games this game will be a change.  Is the change for the best or will it fall flat?  It will depend on your reasons for purchasing the game.  This is a stand-alone game not an expansion to the pre-existing Sims universe.  This is a fact that is made very obvious from the very beginning of the new game.  I will explain it thusly, the game provides a new twist to the genre that attempts to combine the time-management features of creating a simulated kingdom with the RPG aspects of questing.  Is it a winning combination?  Let me lay out my experiences with the game.

I was a huge fan of the Sim City games old.  I would stay up late into the night crafting the perfect city only to find that the townsfolk’s needs were not my own.  As a young student in urban design these lessons were surprisingly realistic and allowed me some insight into designing a city fit for the masses.  My idealism and dreams had to be tempered to allow a certain degree of practicality.  These games had fantastic elements of rampages by Godzilla, alien invasions, and meteor showers.  But those entertaining aspects were only a part f the games appeal.  These games were designed using consultants that were experts in the field of urban planning.  When the developers turned into micromanagers that placed the player in the role of puppeteer for individual citizen within this simulated world my interest waned.  I did not want to have to remind my Sim to pee, shower, eat, and sleep their days away.  I always felt a little strange dedicating so much time to such mundane tasks for simulated beings.  There are some fun elements to each new addition of the genre and the latest one was intriguing enough to get me back into the Sims.  With Sims Medieval I can escape into another world, into another kingdom.

I am a gamer that enjoys games as a form of escape from my everyday world and this latest Sims adventure does just that.  For those long time Sim’s fans this game will have some limitations.  The player is cast as the Watcher, a deity and keeper of the Sims’ kingdom.  The Watcher is tasked to create heroes that will help shape the kingdom.  As the Watcher progresses through the game they can build new buildings and create new heroes.  The game is separated into quest-lines called “Ambitions”.  After the successful completion of a quest within a given Ambition the Watcher earns Resource Points (RP) that can be spent to build new buildings in the Kingdom.  The buildings are limited to specific buildings on specific building sites that will then open up a specific new hero type.  For example a player may choose to build a barracks that will open up the Knight as a hero.  This new hero, in turn opens up new quests that can be attempted

At the beginning of the game there is only one Ambition available.  The player must choose this path and is then asked to create a monarch for their kingdom.  This process is fairly similar to most Sim’s creation modes where the player can choose the general look, voice, and traits.  I would warn you to be very careful what you choose for traits and, especially, the Sim’s “Fatal Flaw” because they may make your questing ability extremely difficult.  The questing element has extremely tight time constraints and if your character’s fatal flaw is insomnia you may find your character knocked out for hours while your quest deadline passes.  Once I had created my ideal image of a monarch I embarked on my first quest.  This quest is basically the game tutorial level that seems to be a common thread throughout each Ambition.  This quest helps introduce the player to the game’s mechanics.  I learned how to move around the kingdom, interact with others and furnish my new castle.  I was also introduced to the “Responsibilities”.  Each day I was given the option to complete two responsibilities.  They may be optional but if I shirk a responsibility (let the deadline for the responsibility pass) I take a huge hit to my “Focus”.  The amount of focus my character has determines their probability for success in things like crafting, hunting, and searching.  This is definitely something I needed to manage well.  Time management is a crucial skill for this game.  The player must balance the quest with their responsibilities as well as catering to their hero’s basic needs.  Yes I was required to tell my little monarch when to eat, sleep, and take care of the “fatal flaw”.   My fatal flaw of choice was ‘Licentious’ because… well… I love to spread the love.   The good news for me was that the basic needs of my Sim’s were simplified from previous versions of the game to make room for more time spent on quests and responsibilities.  The only danger is if I waited too long to sleep or eat my character would spend precious quest time taking care of silly things such as sleeping rather than saving the kingdom from a killer wild boar.

I typically love role playing games and I am an admitted quest-aholic but I truly wish the quest deadlines were a little more lenient to allow for more exploration of the kingdom I had created.   The only way to take control of a particular hero is to select a quest that includes that Sim as one of the heroes, primary or secondary, that is required to complete the quest.  In fact, the only way to play the game initially is to select a quest.  To complete the first Ambition the player must complete several quests and build many of the buildings available in the kingdom.  The good news is that a patch to the game in late April now opens up a free-play Ambition after the player completes the first Ambition.  I have always wondered why game companies believe the people who prefer a freer more casual gaming experience would want to play for hours in a game mode they do not prefer just to unlock their preferred game mode.  It is a mystery for the ages but, once unlocked, the free-play ambition allows a higher degree of freedom for the player.  This Ambition allows the player to choose between total free play with no quest or responsibilities, or free play with no quest but still having responsibilities, or the typical quests and responsibilities.  Each new Ambition requires the player to start a new kingdom from scratch.  I would have liked the ability to carry over all of my hard work into the free play Ambition.  Another thing I found out was that time limits for questing and responsibilities are no more lenient in free play mode.  It would have been nice to allow players in free play mode to have more time for these tasks if a time limit had to be enforced at all.  To put it another way, this mode bends the rules of the game but does not break them.

There are several things that I truly love about this game.  The characters are entertaining.  Each character has an independent spirit and I found myself laughing as Sims farted their way through a wedding ceremony or fought during my attempts at a rousing speech.  The Sims have a certain degree of free will that is influenced by their traits and flaws.  This fact fosters a great amount of satisfaction when my plans resulted in the desired conclusion.  I found that I took my role as a fictional deity more seriously.  While I still found time to slap fight the locals at random I also became a Watcher that attempted to shape my little kingdom so that it might flourish.  I stopped trying to micromanage and started to start enjoying the good and the bad that this game has to offer.  Yes you will likely have a character get stuck in the world.  I have a few characters decide that they would not move or do anything I asked of them.  This requires some patience and, possibly, some patient neighbors.  And, yes, I love my neighbors for weathering the verbal tirades that spring from the loss of hours of hard virtual work.  The cameras will, more than likely send you into similar frustration as you desperately try to follow your Sim. Yes, you will likely hate your Sim for ignoring your requests to continue with the next step of a quest or complete a responsibility that expires in one hour in favor of sleeping for 9 hours.  More irritation may be found when a hungry Sim is directed to make food only to drop the food on the table and have it stolen by another character.  Back to the kettle once more my friend to make another bowl of gruel.  All of this may dishearten many.  So is this game worth your time?  In the end it is a personal choice.  I love the thought and animations that Sims’ developers have created.  These created are strangely addictive to watch.  Their interactions can be guided but never dictated.  This truly reminds me of what I loved from my days spent in Sim City.  It is a challenge to pick the right buildings to build and provide the best heroes to become the Kingdom of my dreams.  Each new building opens up a new hero that, in turn, opens up new quest options.  As I stated earlier, building a barracks opens up the knight, building a church opens up the priest, building a clinic opens up the physician, building a mage’s tower opens up the wizard… You get the idea. My favorite characters are the spies.  They get to do all the fun things like eavesdrop, pickpocket, and otherwise sneak around.  They can also do many of the same things as the knight and duel, train, and otherwise cause trouble.  What can I say?  I have a mischievous side dying to come out.

The quests and the medieval theme provide a new layer of entertainment and helps give me direction and purpose that I had not found in previous Sims games. There are opportunities for different hero types to complete the same quest.  Each hero can use their own strengths to successfully complete the tasks.  The Knight might use combat, the spy might use eavesdropping and thievery, and the monarch might use his power as ruler and lawmaker.  There are also some secret quests to be found only through exploration and adventuring.  I highly recommend jumping into the pit of the beast.  Yes, there is a chance you might die if you are not properly prepared but there is also the chance of some great rewards.  Too scared to take the plunge?  Then stand by the pit in the Judgement Zone and watch others get flung back and forth by the beast as punishment for some unknown wrong.  That’s some good times.    You can also travel around discovering and collecting herbs, fish, rocks, and even leeches that can be used to craft things.  Many heroes have their own crafting specialty such as medicines for physicians, poisons for spies, spells for wizards, or just make a better flavor of food.  Each Ambition focuses on different aspects of the game.  One Ambition focuses on efficiently completing quests while another focuses on making money, and still another focuses on expanding your kingdom. You can save the game while playing each ambition which frees the player to take some chances and not lose too much hard earned gameplay.  If things don’t turn out as planned you can always go back to a previous save game and try again.  Just remember to save often and save yourself from future heartache.

Playing the different Ambitions in the game inspire hope that there will be new downloadable content and expansions to enrich my kingdom experience even further.  It is truly hilarious how involved I became in the lives of my little virtual humans.  I have to admit the Simlish language is very clever.  There is something fascinating about this language of dramatically presented gibberish that conveys all of the emotions of their interactions.  These tiny characters had me investing time and energy to ensure their happiness.  Soon even catering to my Sims the inane basic needs did not bother me nearly as much as they once did.  I really appreciate that the developers patched the game and at least attempted to take care of many gameplay elements that caused me so much grief at first.  This is a game for those enjoy testing their time management skills and the voyeuristic satisfaction of a kingdom under their guidance.  It is a challenge and some may wish the time deadlines were more lenient.  There are many stories to be told with this game and I have to admit I enjoyed crafting quite a few chapters of that story.  This is a game that challenges, inspires and provides some very entertaining characters.  I recommend this for a fun way to practice your deity skills or just kill some time.  If this appeals to you then get thyself to yon store and seize upon Sims Medieval.

A copy of Sims Medieval was provided to The Married Gamers for review and evaluation.

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Author: Melisa Snyder View all posts by

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