The original The Sims brought out a frightening dark side in me, every time I picked up the game. Everything would be fine for an hour or so, as I was happily guiding and watching my virtual people. But then, inevitably, Something Bad would happen, and there would be screaming. And fire. I would like to blame the lack of concrete tasks--I'm the sort of person that needs a little direction or I become...creative. So, wracked with a confusing amount of guilt (and a keener understanding of exactly how long a Sim can live in a 10x10 doorless room), I would put the game to rest. Thankfully, The Sims Medieval changes all of this, giving me what I've been craving in The Sims since its beginning--goals.
That being said, The Sims Medieval is not simply The Sims 3 with swords and dragons--players who come to the party expecting such will be disappointed. Some of the Sims-y elements have been toned down to make way for more task-oriented gameplay. Most noticeably, the Medieval Sims are quite a bit less complex than their modern-day brethren. Although the playable characters are major movers and shakers in the community, each Sim now only has two statistics to keep in check--hunger and energy. Coupled with three Traits (two beneficial, one less so), players have much less to juggle while guiding their charges through their tiny lives. Sure, Sims can still do many of the things they've always done. But players who want nothing more than simply raising families, building houses, or living virtual lives are missing the point of The Sims Medieval. This time around, players are trying to build an entire Kingdom, and each individual Sim is a cog in the works.
Players are once again given the role of an omnipresent observer, although this time around things are a bit more formalized. Given the title of Watcher, players are tasked to guide their Kingdom by taking control of the major characters and shaping the Kingdom's history. Each game starts out with players choosing an Ambition, the ultimate goal for a particular Kingdom. At first, only one Ambition is unlocked--additional Ambitions become available as Watchers succeed in Kingdom tasks. Once an Ambition is chosen, the Watcher jumps into the Kingdom to begin their meddling.
Initially, a fledgling Kingdom looks much like an empty neighborhood from the original The Sims. However, only certain buildings can be constructed, using precious Resource Points, and none of the buildings are customizable in construction. Players can (and must) still furnish these buildings to keep their Sims happy, but the overall design is pre-set. For some, this lack of design function could be a turn-off, but I found building to be my least favorite part of The Sims--I'm just not creative in that fashion. For me, the ability to simply jump into the action of a new building (and associated Sim) without the tedious construction time is a bonus. Most of the buildings unlock a new type of Sim, and a full complement of these Hero Sims are necessary for the health and well-being of the Kingdom.
Players must begin the Ambition with a Monarch, with additional Sims becoming available as their key building is constructed. Sim creating is a breeze. Players may pick from two pre-generated choices, completely randomize their character, or carefully go through each step of the process. Once a player has chosen three Traits and decided what the character will look like, the Sim can begin his or her Quests.
Each Ambition allots a set number of Quest Points, which can be spent to begin the various Quests. A nice selection of Quests are available at any time, but many are limited to the type of Sim that can undertake them. So the Monarch will not be able to try a quest limited to the Magician, and the Spy certainly cannot try a Healer-only Quest. Some of the Quests offer various solution paths, depending on the Sim type assigned as primary, while others require a party of Sims to carry out. The multiple-path Questing options allows for quite a bit of replayability, as players can try completely different Sim combinations in subsequent Ambitions.
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