There is a tendency in our media to romanticize the Middle Ages, and The Sims Medieval is no exception. The game takes place in a world of wizards, dragons, and questing knights, where chivalry is in full force and everyone dresses like Renaissance Faire attendees. Probably a good move, as a more realistic depiction of the time period would likely not be as much fun. I’ve only just started playing this game, so this isn’t going to be a full review, but I’ll cover what I’ve seen from completing two quests: the first one with the monarch consolidating power in the kingdom, and another with a knight exposing a false king who’s attempting to sow sedition. The game has been described as a mixture of the traditional Sims style with fantasy role-playing elements, which is accurate. As with earlier Sims games, you can create characters, defining their looks and personalities; and then control their lives from the minute details to the more significant events. Things are a bit simpler this time around, though, with the only needs that have to be maintained being hunger and energy. You can still make your Sims socialize, take baths, and use the chamberpot (fortunately you don’t have to empty it), but they all contribute to the more general category of Focus. And instead of learning specific skills, there’s an experience system where a Sim gains points and levels by fulfilling his or her duties. Which brings me to another point, which is that each of the Sims you control has a specific job to do. The kingdom is already well-populated with non-controllable characters; you’re just playing the heroes.
The two quests I’ve played so far have been pretty straightforward. While the overall goal might sound complicated, the game pretty much spells out the steps you have to take to achieve it. When you have to talk to a specific person, it will even give the option of going directly where they are. This is pretty much necessary, however. I can remember how annoying it could be to hunt down a Sim I wasn’t controlling when my viewpoint was limited to a single house, and here they could be literally anywhere in a rather large kingdom.
The size of the kingdom can make travel from one location pretty tedious. There are options you can use to avoid having to watch a Sim walk the whole way across the country, but it can still be time-consuming. Anyway, there are certain points where the game gives options as to what you can do, and I have to suspect there are even more of these in other quests. I like the option to hold court when you’re playing as the monarch, as it gives you a choice of decisions to make in response to a subject’s petition. So far, I’ve gone with the more kindly options, but there may be cases when this could backfire. So far, though, it makes more sense than the choices you get during work in The Sims 2, where it’s usually just a crapshoot as to which is the better option.
I’ll admit that I haven’t fully checked out some of the more Sims-like aspects of the game, like the Buy and Build modes or building relationships between Sims. I know it’s possible to get married and have kids, and this is even a central part of at least one of the quests, but I haven’t tried it yet. As for buying and building, the buildings start out ready to go. I’m sure I’ll eventually purchase better furniture and stuff when I get the chance, but I kind of miss creating a home from the ground up. On the other hand, this means you can get into the gameplay without having to make your Sims sleep outdoors because you don’t have enough money to finish building the house (something that’s happened quite a bit in my Sims and Sims 2 games), which is a good thing.