The Sims series -first created by Maxis and later acquired by powerhouse publisher Electronic Arts- has done a pretty good job at providing a certain game style for its players; free form, non linear, sans-narrative simulation gaming. Long time players of the series will tell you that every time they pick up the newest version or the latest expansion pack (and mark my words they WILL), they know exactly what they are getting themselves into- Simlish induced shenanigans.
In August of 2010 – shortly after E3 - Electronic Arts announced a new installment to their Sims franchise; only this time it was not an expansion pack or even The Sims 4, but a whole new game. This took the best intermittent elements of The Sims chain and infused it with a refreshing RPG goal system, which subsequently took the conventional Sims template and turned it onto its proverbial head.
No longer do players have to worry about bathroom breaks, comfort, or whether their home is pretty enough (although they keep Food and Energy bars, to keep their feet firmly planted in The Sims universe), but instead have to pick personality traits that can define their game experience. This includes one tragic flaw, which your Medieval Sim must live with and endure the constant maintenance of, making for a more interesting experience managing and filling good and hilariously questionable action quotas.
The RPG aspect of the game introduces the Quests feature, which supplies a variety of story lines to give your game play experience a sense of accomplishment and purpose, for those players who dislike wandering aimlessly into a neighbor’s house to steal their microwave. This new element allows players to use their created medieval Sims to accomplish and complete given tasks by immersing themselves in a given narrative. These narratives range in difficulty, with harder quests involving more actions and interactions with the surrounding Sim kingdom and its inhabitants – but doling out greater rewards like cash and influence. You can also set a Kingdom goal, ranging from complete domination to being richest in the land.
The humour in the game is apparent right away, with the first few quests making me laugh out loud (or LOL if you will). The subtle innuendos meant for an older audience, blatantly cheesy captions, and general comical content is definitely a change from the less text-heavy Sims predecessors. As far as the music is concerned, while the title theme is very Harry Potter-esque, the audio tracks ring mostly true to the Elizabethan era and it does feel like a good fit and a change form the looping soundtracks in The Sims 3.
The Create-a-Sim feature remains generally the same in every game, however with the Medieval theme your Sims can pick from a wide variety of medieval garb, complete with Fryer Tuck hairstyles, and the option to create your Sim in modern day styles as well. You will notice you also have the option of giving your Wizard a ye-olde-timey Mohawk and a Metallica beard – very historically accurate… and hilarious.
|Even in Medieval times, this guy should not be wearing white after Labour Day. Or at all.|
Cause and effect is also a big factor in the game, as each quest you complete alters your gameplay and available quests. Completing quests can help or hinder your reputation with neighboring kingdoms, create a love or hate relationship with your subjects, and alter other sims quests. If your matriarch and knight both have the option of completing a quest, only one can complete it – so choose wisely!
As an example, one of the starting quests allowed me to visit a Wizard who had shown up on my kingdom’s doorstep unannounced and asked that I check him out. The options available were I could send him to the pit of death, inquire, or pursue a romantic relationship. Needless to say, whichever route you took affects the game. If you were wondering which option I took, for the rest of the game I had to worry about alimony.
This game is massive. There is absolutely no way you will run out of things to do. There are lots of Sims in different careers you can create: Bard’s, priests, blacksmiths, wizards, a spy, doctor, knights and King and Queens. Each “Hero” has his or her own set of quests, and you can have multiple Hero’s on the go, intersecting and influencing your other Hero’s story lines. Of course each Hero you create affects your kingdom: have physicians create potions for you, have the knight battle, the blacksmith create new weaponry – each sim can affect your kingdom as little or as much as you like.
Aside from just the Heroes, the game is a Sims title, which means the opportunity to furnish, build and operate buildings, shops, and other areas goes without saying. While the build mode is not as blue sky as you may be used to, you are able to take on more active role parts of the game and layout your kingdom as you see fit (or unfit).
Like any Sims game of yore, it always remains customizable: from clothing, to complete control over your Sims features, hair and makeup. This aspect of the game will be familiar to all who have played a Sims game as well as a pleasant surprise for those who are used to certain RPGs where you select from 3 default faces, two of which look like Rosie O’Donnell. In buy mode you can take advantage of the medieval items as well, with various grades of craftsmanship from mediocre Sweedish functionality to Pottery Barn style goods, each bringing something from the era to sweeten your Keep’s look.
All in all, The Sims Medieval offers fans of the series a fitting homage as while trying a new spin on this old classic. With quests, humour, replayability, customization and a great take on cause and effect, The Sims Medieval is something that is definitely a must have for Sims players and a must try for RPG fans.
I rate this game 4 out of 5 goblets of mead.