The Sims Medieval: Pirates & Nobles

the-sims-medieval-pirates-and-nobles-mac-boxart
4 Overall Score

Written by on November 24, 2011 in [, , , , , , , , ]

Electronic Arts has released the first adventure pack for The Sims Medieval and it holds promises of roguish pirates and a less-than-‘noble’ merchant class. This pack contains these new character types as well as pet birds (falcons, hawks, and parrots), themed furniture (including an interrogation chair), new wardrobe, and décor.  Is this a happy addition full of new adventuring?  Read on good sirs and ladies and I will tell you my tale.

The new adventure pack introduces two new classes that are embroiled in a very bitter war.  The Nobles fear the brutal ways of the Pirates that loots their shipments while the Pirate hate the Nobles with a vengeance.  The new quests are opportunities for the omniscient “Watcher” to determine which group the kingdom will ally with.  Will the kingdom support the Pirates or will they protect the Noble merchant class.  The player as “Watcher” has several opportunities to decide the kingdom’s destiny.  The player also has opportunities to change the alliances during quests.  If the player gains enough allegiance with one of the groups the kingdom will be rewarded with a town square makeover in the theme of their chosen ally.  These new quests are entertaining and provide the player with insight to both of the new classes.  It is unfortunate that the side duties and gameplay requirement work against the game’s potential good times.  I found myself needing to refer to the “Lessons” section of the menu for tips and tricks on how to complete the nagging duties.  Many of them required several more steps than I would have liked to complete.  They also expanded the daily duties to multiple part tasks.  This means more menial duties and less time to focus on the main quest.  It also detracts from the main attraction I had to the new content.

I have to be completely honest and say the main attraction for me was the promise of becoming a pirate.  The thing that frustrates me most about this game is their excruciating focus on the Sims’ journey as they must walk from area to area.  Even at the quickest speed my character seemed to drudge along at a snail’s pace.  I wanted to reach through the monitor, grab my Sim and throw it to the next area.  Instead I had to wait for the character to walk across the entire kingdom to the next area of the quest.  This would produce less rage if this process did not eat away so much precious time.  My Sim would be at the wrong end of the kingdom when the side quests, called duties, threatened to run out of time for completion.  While these duties are optional, failure to complete them in the required time limit burdens the Sim with negative buffs that will make the character less focused.  By itself this is not a huge concern but coupled with the dangers of ignoring basic needs such as sleep, food, or the character’s fatal flaw will compound the negativity and cause the Sim to become a worthless, unfocussed toon.  This frustration occurred in the original game also. Another frustration from the original game continues in the new content.  The extremely wonky camera seems destined to hides like a stalker behind trees and cliffs rather than truly focus its lens on my Sim.   For all its care in displaying the monotonous aspects of the game it stubbornly refuses to share any images of the most interesting activities available with the new content.  The best way I can describe my frustration with this game is to liken it to a rock hard piñata.  The player knows the game is filled with promises of delicious pirate candy.  I step up to it bat in hand and thwack, whack, or otherwise pummel the piñata to free said candy.  I continue to hit the piñata hoping the next moment I will be rewarded with the joy of its sweet, sweet candy goodness only to find the piñata remains hopelessly intact.  I had fun earning the title of Pirate through questing but was sadly disappointed to realize that going on a pirate raid consisted of watching the ship sail away from the dock, waiting a long moment, getting a test description of the raid results, and then watching the ship sail back into the docks.  The player reads a short text about the outcome of the raid and move along.  I wish there was a chance to participate in the raid or, at the very least, watch a short cinematic of events.  I truly believe this was a huge missed opportunity for this content.

Treasure hunting is exciting in principle but I wish actual gameplay would have been more thrilling.  The Sim reads the map for clues.  The clue for a general location can be as simple as that the area is surrounded by trees.  I gleefully made my way to the forest area.  Visions of gold and riches danced in my head when I realized the next step consisted of an excruciatingly bland game of “hot and cold”.  Clicking on the map I select “search for treasure” and my Sim just looked around and mumbled for a painfully long moment. Afterwards I got a response as to whether I had gotten closer or further away from the treasure.  Once I got close enough it prompts the Sim to dig and the Sim uses a shovel from their inventory to dig.  This is another idea that seems to have taken an exciting possibility and turned it into the mundane.

In spite of its faults there are moments of fun throughout the game.  Interrogating enemies for information in an interrogation chair can be a bit more fun.  The player must figure out the most effective technique that will break the enemy before he or she becomes too exhausted.  The techniques range from tickling, to showing them the scary contents of a mysterious box, to releasing an evil chinchilla onto the enemy.  These techniques are entertaining and I was happy that the game allowed more interaction with this process than most of the new interactions.  The birds also allowed the player to multitask a bit.  The player can feed the bird, have it attack another Sim or send it out to hunt for them.  I really love the fact that my Sim could send the bird out for food to free me to proceed on my quest. This was a wonderful timesaver.  The next step may be to all Sims to purchase servants to help progress through the game.  I would love to delegate some of the mundane so I could focus on the more entertaining aspects of the game.  Think on that EA and get back to me.

I want to love this content because I absolutely love the intent.  Sadly, the game’s unswerving devotion to the ordinary daily routine while avoiding detailed interactions during the more potentially exciting moments is the game’s downfall.  I think my great disappointment stems mainly from the missed opportunities of this content.  This game is not without a certain amount of entertainment value and charm but it is hard to see these shining moments through the heavy veil of the mundane.

A copy of Sims Medieval:  Pirates and Nobles 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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