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The Sims Medieval Review

geoff_hunt 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?

Ring Kichard teh Thrid.

So, I've always kinda liked the Sims games. Kinda. I wouldn't sit here and tell you I'm a fan, exactly; I keep buying each major title update, and then I completely ignore the expansion packs. This has worked out fairly well for me, as about the time that I fill up on my tolerance for Sims gameplay is about when I run out of content in each Sims game. There are certain nagging irritations that keep me from being an unqualified fan of the series – like how hard doors are to negotiate for the common Sim – but on the whole, I like having the ability to provide godlike direction to people.

click to enlargeAs for The Sims: Medieval, I actually like it. It's fun, albeit a somewhat distant sort of way. Somewhere between a RPG and a classic Sims game, The Sims: Medieval is a bizarre hybrid game that works far better than you might normally expect it to. Nevertheless, the Sims game trappings are likely to repel a certain group of players – likely the ones who never cared for the Sims games in the first place, admittedly.

Unlike a classic Sims game - instead of creating households, house included - The Sims: Medieval is much more streamlined and straightforward; the Sims you create are essentially the heroes of your kingdom: the king, the mighty knight, the wizard, the bard, the blacksmith, etc., etc. Each hero is associated with a specific location in your kingdom. At the start of the game, you only have the king and castle to work with, but as you complete quests and gather resources, you'll start building new additions to your kingdom and creating the relevant Sims to staff these new additions.

Each additional building is pre-made, so you don't have to mess with architecture. The classic furnishing mode, however, is still around, so as you earn cash for your Sims, you'll be able to spend it on fancy new tools, utilities, and decorations. This isn't a strict necessity, but it's helpful for gaining that little edge quicker and easier.

As a matter of fact, it's delightful how well put-together the pre-made buildings and furnishings are. For casual play, you don't need to dick around with a lot of the more fiddly elements of Sims gameplay. It's easy to jump into and start playing, coincidentally, which isn't something that could be said of past Sims games.

click to enlargeSim creation kept a lot of the best ideas of Sims 3; handy pre-made parts and bits can be easily chosen, so you can promptly assemble different looking Sims. Likewise, traits are back and much like Sims 3, not all of the 'flaws' are actually all that bad and not all of the supposedly advantageous traits are all that advantageous. There's plenty of variety to play with and different combinations make for interesting options.

I'm a fan of licentious bookworms, for example, as well as eloquent insomniacs. Insomniac, for reference, is one of the best flaws ever; it's easily worked around, and depending on your play style, can even be something of an advantage. I found it handy to have an insomniac king, meeting with foreign dignitaries at all hours of the night and sleeping through those pesky morning petitioners.

The majority of the game, though, is spent taking your Sims on quests. Each quest is essentially a little self-contained story suited to the profession of your currently selected Sim. Kings will spend their time writing laws and conquering new territories and seeing to the welfare of their subjects; knights will duel bandits in the woods and patrol the kingdom's borders and train the local guards. Interestingly, some quests can be attempted by a variety of Sims, and coincidentally offer a variety of different story paths and potential rewards.

Rewards for quests tend to focus on resources for the kingdom, as well as the improvement of core kingdom stats: well-being, security, culture, and knowledge. Each stat adds to the qualities of your kingdom, and unlock new items, interactions, options, and quests. While it can be generally argued that you want to max all the stats, some provide more immediate benefit than others; which you want to buff depends on which character you're fond of playing the most more than anything else.

click to enlargeUnlike other Sims games, Medieval has the unique quality of being winnable. There are actual end-states other than just deciding you're done with the game. This isn't necessarily a good or bad thing - just a thing. It probably makes the game more palatable for a lot of non-Sims-enthusiasts; I actually wouldn't mind a more general 'grow your kingdom indefinitely' mode, though.

The game is technically solid, surviving all standard (and plenty of non-standard) use cases. I minimized the game, walked away, and came back five hours later saying 'oops' only to find the game didn't care and would keep running just fine. Likewise, there were no graphical glitches, performance was generally pretty decent, and there were no particularly notable bugs. Game just ran pretty well.

Graphically, the game is broadly similar to Sims 3, just a bit more stylized. Lighting has smoothed out and taken on more subtle tones than that of Sims 3 as well, so there's some marked visual improvements; this is especially nice given the medieval setting. Music is likewise good; fairly standard medieval fair, which is both a good thing and a meh thing. Appropriate as it is, the music sometimes gets, well, automatically ignored by my brain's tendency to filter boring things out.

Overall, I can easily recommend The Sims: Medieval. It's accessible, it's decent fun, and there's a metric ton of content – enough so that I missed my deadline not just out of simple laziness, but because after 3 hours a night of playing for two weeks, there was still plenty to do. For fans of The Sims, this game's an easy win; for those who don't care for the series as a whole, give this one a shot. There's some real quality here.
A- Revolution report card
  • Technically solid
  • So much content
  • Graphical upgrades
  • Streamlined play
  • Licentious Bookworms
  • Meh music
    Reviews by other members
    No member reviews for the game.

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