The Sims Medieval
Posted 2 years ago By - David Slauenwhite
Kings and Queens, Knights, Mages, Spies, and more make up the heroes found in The Sims: Medieval. When I initially heard about this title, I made plenty of assumptions. The reality though, exceeded my expectations more than I could have imagined and the experience was more enjoyable because of it. My initial thoughts were that they took the quest system found in the Sims 3 expansion - World Adventures - window dressed it with genre clothing and called it good. Yet the final product holds a lot more depth and layers than one would expect of a new Sims title, even one spun off the main franchise branch. All that aside, let’s begin at the beginning shall we?
You are the “Watcher”, which is essentially the god of your Sims world. When you initially load up the game and prepare to start a new town, you are guided by the tutorial to select and use the first and only ambition available. Ambitions in Medieval are essentially like scenarios with certain goals - quaintly called achievements - to be met. There are 12 in total to be found in the game. Completing those achievements will result in unlocking new ambitions and levelling your Watcher, which in turn unlocks new furniture items and clothing/hair/hats for your heroes to wear. Achievements are met through how you complete quests, build buildings, level your sim heroes, certain activities and making alliances with neighboring countries.
Once an ambition is selected, you will receive a certain amount of Quest Points (QP) that can be spent as you progress. Each quest costs a certain amount of QP to start and only one quest can be active at a time. When your QP reaches zero, the ambition comes to an end and if you have met the requirements to unlock new ambitions, they - along with additional unlocks and experience - is thrown on your Watcher level. Now things begin to get a little deeper as each quest either specifies which primary hero is required or any secondary or support heroes/characters involved along with varying QP costs.
Resource Points (RP) are used to add new buildings to your Kingdom, which is critical to its overall development. There are both Hero buildings - which when added allows you to create a new hero - or community buildings - which are either simply there to increase the capacity of your kingdom for the four aspects, or they are a venue for community or quest-related activities.
Additionally, RP is used on the political map to unlock alliances with neighboring countries. There are several available, including two that are discovered by purchasing their respective maps from the Village Shoppe (a rabbit hole similar to stores in Sims 3) and then using the ship at the docks to sail to them. Once you form an alliance with one of the various neighbors, you are offered a quest chain to go from alliance to annexing them under your influence. Doing so will add various bonuses to your game, such as lowering quest point costs, new goods to be sold in the Village Shoppe rabbit hole, and so on. You start your kingdom with two neighbors already annexed. Allied and Annexed Kingdoms also send a representative NPC Sim who becomes a permanent fixture around the Monarch’s castle that your Heroes can interact with, befriend, marry, etc...
In the Kingdom itself, you also have the Judgement Area that holds the stocks for punishing offenders. Your Monarch can essentially order any Sim sent to them at a whim, which is rather amusing. Or to be even more sinister, you can order a Sim thrown to the Pit Beast, which generally means death for the condemned.
Lastly, there are also various resource gathering areas that are important for the needs of your controllable Heroes. There is fish to be caught for food or money, plants needed for crafting poisons, magical potions, or medical supplies, and hunting for improving the food within the kingdom. There is also metal to be mined for your blacksmith or mage to craft new weapons or equipment. These are similar to various resource spots found in the Sims 3, though they are consistent in what type of resource they hold. Keep in mind though, your Heroes ability to mine the best from these spots is dependant on their positive amount of focus.
Creating your Heroes is an exercise in the usual Sims gameplay we’ve all come to know and expect. You have your standard aspects such as modifying their features, body weight, muscle mass, voice, hair, and clothing (which is profession specific). However in the Sims Medieval, they cut back on character traits, leaving you with a small selection with only two actual traits. These range from adventurous to creative cook, from scholarly to friendly. These can add either different gameplay options or doing certain activities will add positive or negative moodlets (which, as it sounds, directly impacts the happiness of your Sim, and thereby their performance). There is also now the inclusion of a fatal flaw, some negative aspect of your Heroes personality that will lead to negative moodlets or a need to satisfy a particular urge daily to keep your Sim happy and focused. The nice thing in regards to fatal flaws is that certain quests carry the opportunity to obtain a Legendary Trait for a particular hero. These are special traits that provide very good bonuses, or just a nice side benefit, without the loss or distraction of the fatal flaw. These can range from being amazingly attractive to other Sims to having connections to the guilds, allowing for all the clothing to become available across the professions or NPCs.
Also different from many Sims games are the various day-to-day needs they have. In Medieval, there are only two to be met, which are hunger and sleep. This keeps you from having to fuss over trivial activities such as going to the chamber pot or having a good wash down in the tub. However taking time to engage in those activities are actually beneficial as they can add positive moodlets that can make a significant impact in the outcome of quests.
All the big and small quests add up and taking your time to complete them ensures you have a higher overall quest performance level, which can lead to great rewards and a more interesting experience. There are also two daily activities that your heroes need to complete. These are timed mini quests that are connected to your heroes’ profession. When you complete them, you will get the positive “Job Well Done” moodlet, if you run out of time and fail to complete one (or both), then you will acquire the “Shirked Responsibility” negative moodlet. It boils down to positive moodlets and high quest performance is good for progression, negative moodlets and lower quest performance for poor progression. As a side note, some quests will require you to go negative for a while, but the rewards generally justify this. You also have to be careful not to fall to far behind in your main quest as doing so will result in a negative moodlet that automatically lowers quest performance regardless of your focus level. So take your time, but try to keep on task at least for a while every two game days.
As you add the Hero buildings, you will unlock a new Hero profession. Each profession has their own specific abilities, related items (crafting tables, equipment, and clothing), and activities. There are also some that share certain activities that are common between them, such as the Monarch, Knight, and Spy, which are all combat enabled. They can be equipped with swords and can spar with other Sims, challenge to duels, or even duel to the death; the loser of which will really die and be taken by the grim Reaper.
Your Monarch also has the ability to pass edicts that can affect your relationship with neighboring powers. Or simply sit on the throne and deal with petitions from the people. These are like the chance opportunities from the Sims 3, in that you are asked for something by one of your subjects and your answer can either positively or negatively affect the love of your subjects. The rabbit holes such as the Village Shoppe, forest, and sailing on the ship also have chance opportunities that can garner money, experience, items, or renown for your heroes and kingdom.
Spies, however, can also craft poisons which they can sell or may need for quests. A Blacksmith naturally crafts weapons, armor, and other quest related equipment. This is an interactive activity as you have to time the heating of the metal and the hammering in order to produce a superior item. The Physician can craft medicine for use or sale, and also perform surgery on sick Sims with the aid of leeches and a rather amusing looking surgery table machine.
Mages are the magically inclined Sims and can use both light and dark spells either to complete their quests or mess with other Sims for some grins and giggles. The Merchant is fairly predictable in that you can sail to the various neighboring countries to trade or buy goods from the Village Shoppe rabbit hole and turn around and sell those goods to other Sims in their merchant stalls attached to their related building. The Bard performs music, poems, and plays, all of which can be created by gathering inspiration from various sources and written on the scribing table. The Jacoban and Peteran Priests, each having their own respective doctrine and view of the “Watcher”, can give sermons, absolve Sims of their sins and convert Sims to their respective faiths.
Yes, the Sims Medieval has all the elements of the Sims franchise, right down to the “woohooing” and making little Sim babies (which fortunately you don’t have to micro manage). But, there are so many other layers to the gameplay and generally a lot more to this game than “just another Sims game”. It has resource management, diplomacy, combat (which is interactive to a degree), murder, mayhem, questing, and in a small way city development. Expectedly, the visuals are on par with the Sims 3 and matches up well with the time period it is trying to recreate. Equally the sound and music fits well with your usual simlish voices and various ambient sounds.
My only really problems, aside from learning to manage my quests properly, is the build mode and the camera work inside the Hero buildings themselves. You can decorate your Hero building, but there is no actual building mode. You cannot add or change the size or layout, so space is limited. Likewise you have limited range of motion for the camera within the structures. It is very much a “Barbie House” effect in that you have a view from one side only, with limited side-to-side and top-to-bottom degree of viewing angles. Zooming in is limited too as you cannot zoom in completely on various Sims or objects, so you may end up marrying the ugliest Sim around if your not careful (not that it specifically matters, however some might find it a tad annoying.)
The other complaint is that when you complete an ambition, you have to start all over again with a fresh kingdom for the next one. You can enjoy free play within your completed ambition, but quests are disabled, no experience is gained, and while you might complete some achievements, it becomes just The Sims at that point. So going through a fresh kingdom for each ambition might turn off some players, while others might find it refreshing to dive into a new Kingdom, taking what they’ve learned to improve their experience and unlock more achievements at a better rate the second go-round.
Overall, I walked away more than impressed with the way Sims Medieval turned out, despite the issues I’ve mentioned. This one is an easy recommendation for Sims fans; but also questing/adventure game fans will get a kcik out of it. With the different gameplay elements, some unexpected depth, and even the ability to easily remove the more annoying NPC Sims, it adds to the experience, taking what we’ve seen from the main franchise and serving it from a different angle. It might even bring some of the staunch anti-Sims gamers out to take another look at the series. It’s in essence an adventure game built with a Sims core that could find resonance outside of the massive Sims fanbase.
+ Depth of building up your heroes, kingdom, alliances and resources
+ Different heroes have activities that set them apart and make them unique
- Starting a new kingdom for each ambition can be tiresome
- Rabbit holes....
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Release Date : 2011/03/22
System : PC
Publisher : Electronic Arts
Developer : The Sims Studio
Category : Simulation
ESRB : T
7.0 / 10
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