As The Sims 3 continues to be a cash cow, Electronic Arts has decided to go in a new direction with a spinoff game taking place in the setting of high medieval fantasy, with kings, wizards, spies, troubadours, and ladies-in-waiting, appropriately called The Sims Medieval.
It’s not a completely new direction, though. The Sims Medieval shares some of the focused roleplaying aspects seen in such titles as MySims and other console and mobile versions of the game. The difference here is that you get the full computing power that runs The Sims 3 backing this spinoff, so the entire world is progressing while you navigate a Sim through the world.
When you start a game, you choose a ruler, and create the King or Queen in the same way you create a Sim in the regular game, and the customization options remain there: you can pick a preset monarch, or create one from scratch, even down to molding their face with detailed sliders. You can also just pick the skin and hair color, the hairstyle, the clothes and their body type.
Like The Sims 3, all Sims have traits. In Medieval, each Sim gets three personality traits to pick from: two advantages and one disadvantage. Lifetime goals have been removed from the game. Instead, each Sim gets two responsibilities a day. If they don’t fulfill those jobs, the Focus Bar drops. Conversely, successfully completing them raises it. Sims also get moodlets depending
on their situation. Solitary Sims, for example, will get a negative moodlet if they’re in a room with too many Sims in it.
Since The Sims Medieval is focusing more on story and roleplaying, all but two needs have been removed. Each Sim no longer needs worry about going to the bathroom, or taking a bath – though Sims who don’t bathe will still walk around with a green cloud wafting around them. It’s less of a faux-pas – it is the Middle Ages. The only daily rituals a player has to worry about is eating and sleeping.
In order to play, you choose a quest for a hero. In the beginning it’s just the King or Queen, but as you complete missions, you gain Kingdom experience points to build more structures like churches, wizard towers, markets, and so forth, each of which usually comes with a new hero type. Building a tavern, for instance, will allow you to recruit a bard, which not only allows you to get new bard-specific missions, but also new ways to complete older missions in a new way as well as co-op missions which require the co-operation between two or more heroes.
During a mission, you play as you might The Sims 3, except there are goals to complete to move the mission on towards completion. However, these goals are usually not time enforced, allowing you to play with your Sim as you might a regular Sim – with some differences. For one, you can’t build a structure anymore – you can only furnish it. You can do everything else, though – you can socialize, flirt, explore, and so on.
Every day, your hero has two responsibilities. These are sort of optional – failure to complete them lowers your mood bar. When a mood bar is low and in the red, the Sim is “unfocused” and unable to perform tasks properly – or sometimes not at all. Otherwise, a Sim only need worry about eating and sleeping. Former needs such as urination will increase the mood of your Sim, but you never worry about peeing in your pants.
Some of the restrictions feel too, well, restrictive. When you’re in a mission, you can’t control any Sims save the ones who are a part of it, and some missions are complex enough that you better hope that you really enjoy being, say, a spy or you’ll find yourself getting bored. In fact, the entire mission system can make you want to save and quit just to take some time off from the game.
The game has some nice touches, though. After a female Sim gives birth, she doesn’t feed the baby with a bottle – no, she uses the old-fashioned method of suckling. Sims don’t use utensils it seems either. They’ll eat their soup by spooning it into their mouths with their hands. Incidentally, Sims don’t age, so the babies grow into perpetual children. It’s disappointing that kids – not even royal heirs – grow and take over for their parents when they die.
The game retains
the classic Sims humor, though, so the game isn’t asking you to take it too seriously, though some very grim missions can pop up, such as royal assassination or famine. You can have gay sex, as well – even for a monarch, so you can recreate some of the more… interesting triangles of yore. The game is rated Teen for a reason.
The Sims Medieval, ultimately, feels like it could have been so much more than it actually is. Like The Sims 3, it feels a little incomplete, and you can bet there will be DLC packs to expand the game; this is a Sims game, after all. Sims fans are encouraged to check it out, but don’t expect it to make you want to stop playing The Sims 3 – if anything, it’ll make you wish you could import your Medieval heroes to The Sims 3. – 3 1/2 out of 5 Stars
Jonah Falcon is a blogger for TMRzoo and GameStooge.com and covers all gaming consoles and platforms including Sony Playstation 3, Microsoft XBOX 360, Nintendo Wii, Sony PSP and computer games designed for Mac OS, Microsoft Windows and Linux operating systems. Jonah provides his readers with reviews, previews and up to date gaming industry news and rumors.