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The Sims Medieval Preview

Nick_Tan By:
GENRE Virtual Life 
PUBLISHER Electronic Arts 
DEVELOPER The Sims Studio 
T Contains Crude Humor, Sexual Themes, Use of Alcohol, Violence

What do these ratings mean?

Hanging on to outdated imperialist dogma which perpetuates the economic and social differences in our society.

Turning the Sims universe on its head, The Sims Medieval casts you peasants into the godly directorial role of transforming a lowly plot of land in the Middle Ages into a legendary kingdom of might and lore. Rather than controlling a single Sim from birth into adulthood, you are in charge of a full court of Sims who must forthwith work in tandem to make their kingdom worthy enough to be mentioned future encyclopedia entries to be read by thy Sims' progeny.

click to enlargeJust from the initial hands-off demonstration that at this year's showcase at EA Redwood Shores, The Sims Medieval feels akin to a slower-paced, Civ-like real-time strategy game, except that it focuses only on one civilization: yours. Like Civilization, the object is to build a kingdom that has extraordinary military might, technology, or religious faith. Completing quests in step-by-step tasks, like curing the king's sickness by collecting herbs and applying leeches, accrues kingdom points that reflect the general strength and influence of your monarchy.

Each building has a particular function: the castle houses the royal family, the knights, and the spy; the towers hold the wizard and the physician; and the cloister is home to two fictitious religious institutions. One religion bolsters its numbers through fearmongering while the other does so through gentler but less powerful means of persuasion, so you'll have to decide which end justifies your means more.

Moreover, each building is a fixed structure. That is, you can't alter the construction of a building like you can in regular The Sims titles, but you can act as the interior designer and change the objects within it. So if you think the king needs to find his queen, it would be best to double the size of his, ahem, mattress.

click to enlargeThe limit on building customization, though, means that the set pieces look hand-crafted and supple in a hand-painted way - bubbling brooks, lazy windmills, sturdy trees, a blue sky. Clichés, yes, but would you have it any other way? Even the character models have a rosy blush, a romantic smoothness to their faces that matches a period of chivalry and arcane beauty. And to keep up with Sim pretenses, any created character must have two positive characteristics and one fatal flaw.

Then again, this is the Middle Ages, a time of The Plague, man-eat-man, prisoners of war, uncleaniness, and torture for the whole family. Someone showing disrespect to the king might end up in a pillory and become the target of thrown tomatoes. Or the horrors of jeering, oh my!

Following the island survival scenario in The Sims Castaway, Electronic Arts uses the versatility of The Sims franchise as a means to explore a fantastical genre. Through the fine art of role-play, The Sims Medieval hopes to transport you to a land once upon a time when it arrives this spring 2011.
More GR previews for this game:
The Sims Medieval preview posted on 08/16/10.

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