Tobold's Blog
Monday, March 28, 2011
 
The Sims Medieval Review

I never wrote a list of what features of The Sims 3 I found boring. So it is somewhat spooky how EA managed to get hold of that list and to eliminate exactly those boring features from The Sims Medieval (TSM), and to replace them by some rather good role-playing game elements. Gone, of course, is the boring American suburb setting: Instead of playing rather ordinary people you now play the monarch of a fantasy / medieval kingdom, plus several of his subjects, from the wizard to the blacksmith. Gone are 4 of the 6 needs, with only hunger and energy remaining: No longer are you spending most of your day on potty breaks or under the shower, you now have more time to do the fun stuff, or pursue your quests and responsabilities. And gone is the general lack of purpose: The game is now organised in campaigns called "ambitions", and structured into quests.

The quests are definitively the highlight of The Sims Medieval, because they are putting what modern MMORPGs call a "quest" to shame. In TSM a quest is closer to the original meaning of the word, a search, a medium-term goal with several sub-tasks. Here the game for me pretty much hits the sweet spot between sandbox and themepark gameplay: While you are always on a quest while playing, there is no time-limit. If you neglect your quest tasks too long, the game gently reminds you of that by lowering your focus and quest progress. But in general you have plenty of time for all sorts of other activities; and blindly just following the quest tasks is actually not even giving you the best result, as you need the other activities to keep your focus bar high.

Not only are quests thus much longer than a "kill 10 foozles" trivial errand in a MMORPG, but The Sims Medieval also offers plenty of choices during each quest. Already when starting the quest you can often choose an "approach", for example when a wild boar appears you can choose whether to try to hunt him or to save him from other hunters. If the quest isn't made for one specific profession, you can choose which of your characters to play the quest with. And during the quest tasks, and during other events, you often have choices to make on how to proceed. Choices with actual consequences! Because there is no over-arching scripted story, you aren't fobbed off with fake decisions all leading you back to the same story on rails.

But of course TSM is still a Sims game, that is there are plenty of sandbox elements. While you can't change any more how big your houses are and where the walls are, you can still furnish your various buildings. Your characters can still interact with other sims, be it NPCs or your own characters. Every character has traits, normally two positive and one negative one. New, and playing more like a MMORPG, is the ability to gather herbs and ores from nodes distributed all over your kingdom, and to craft items from the resources thus gathered. And your kingdom has lots of interesting locations your sims can interact with.

Of course The Sims Medieval is no MMORPG, but it is an interesting demonstration of what a MMORPG *could* be if developers wouldn't neglect the "world" aspects so much. In spite of being mostly populated by NPCs, your litte TSM kingdom feels a lot more alive than the totally static worlds of online games. People go about their business, and your actions and choices make a visible difference to their virtual lives. And that makes The Sims Medieval a lot of fun. Recommended!
Comments:
Oh cool. I was given some amazon vouchers for my birthday last week and was thinking about buying this. Maybe I'll give it a go.
 
Thanks for that. :) I'll probably check it out at some point, but right now there are too many other good games to keep me occupied.
 
but it is an interesting demonstration of what a MMORPG *could* be if developers wouldn't neglect the "world" aspects so much.

A pleasure to read this written by you ;)
 
To be fair, Nils, this is probably a far kinder example of sandbox gaming compared to the MMO offerings, which all seem to be inhabited by rabid PVPers hell-bent on the option of killing anyone and anything they see... To the point that Open PVP has actually (sadly) become almost synonymous with sandbox for some.

It's no wonder the reaction's different.
 
Interesting to see such a favourable review, as most comments that I've seen on the game so far are a rather mixed bag. I guess it depends on whether any of the Sims sandbox features that were removed were particularly dear to you. I never cared much for house building myself, but I was concerned to read that you can no longer "breed" your own next generation of Sims as children stay children forever and you can't control them. Do characters age at all or does the game just go on forever?
 
this sounds nice. I used to play sims ages ago. Maybe I'll check it out.
 
This sounds like a game that my kids (tweenage daughters) would really enjoy.

Is it family friendly? I have seen a couple of references to bedroom activities that are a bit worrying.

I don't care if there is a bit of romance but I would rather they didn't have to confront blatant promiscuity.
 
I sounds like your annoyances with the previous Sims series' were the same as mine.

I may try this again, but I'm a bit confused as this "quest" or "ambition" system sounds very similar to what was in place Sims 3. I guess the quests help to guide you a bit more?
 
Interesting to see such a favourable review, as most comments that I've seen on the game so far are a rather mixed bag. I guess it depends on whether any of the Sims sandbox features that were removed were particularly dear to you.

It is totally possible that people who *didn't* like The Sims 3 all that much will like the The Sims Medieval better than die-hard Sims fans.

Is it family friendly? I have seen a couple of references to bedroom activities that are a bit worrying.

Sex in The Sims Medieval is the same as it was in The Sims 3: No nudity, with a blur applied when somebody is taking a bath. And the bedroom activity is called "WooHoo" and happens completely under the blanket.

I'm a bit confused as this "quest" or "ambition" system sounds very similar to what was in place Sims 3. I guess the quests help to guide you a bit more?

To answer this plus the "breeding" question: Characters in TMS don't age, except for babies becoming children. But the game isn't endless. You get something like 50 quest points per campaign, and the "ambition" campaign ends when you spent all those points on quests, which cost between 1 and 4 points each. Thus after 20+ quests you move on to the next kingdom, albeit with the option of taking one of your previous heroes as the new monarch. You *could* play on forever, but as you don't have quests and responsabilities any more, you don't gain xp any more either, and the whole thing becomes a bit stagnant.
 
Interesting to note, most reviews of this game mention the lack of sandbox features, and that the game feels very on-rails due to the main quest guiding you rather then letting you actually run a kingdom. I'm sure for someone who loved doing random stuff in Sims 3, that's the case, while someone coming off something as on-rails as WoW feels TSM is sandboxy.

Going to have to pick this up on a Steam sale at some point.
 
I strongly disliked playing the Sims 3, but enjoyed watching my fiancee (Tessiekins) play it.

I am having an absolute blast playing the Sims Medieval precisely because of the "needs" simplification and the quest system.
 
Yeah real cool...

I always wanted to be serf!

I know The SimsMedieval because I looked at the web site and after reviewing it was too much like The Sims: Livin' Large and The Sims: Hot Date.

Is it not curious that the EA sims franchise would pick Knights, Wizards and Rogues to be the genre of choice?

What does it say about people attempting to shoe horn in other genres into gaming DOMINATED by fantasy titles? EA just randomly picked Fantasy I guess. (no greater lessons to draw we hope right future jedi?).

After all if the Wowbies are expecting the Dragon's Lair (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dragon%27s_Lair)experience.

But they get a Space Ace (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Ace) game instead... what happens to all those disappointed gamers?

AND just wondering... If it turns out that this sandbox ideal is not realizeable in an MMO form due to profit considerations...(companies can't afford the storage neccessary to persistent every piece of tin foil)

What does a TheSimsMid do... continue to play with just themselves?
 
AngryGamer, I don't think The Sims Medieval is meant to be an MMO. So, I would imagine all the players of this single-player game will continue on as they would otherwise - enjoying their single player game.

Or did I misunderstand you?
 
@angry I don't think they are shoehorning. I've played TS since version 1 and re-skinning the game mmedieval is one of the most popular themes. There are mods that will have the NPCs show up in the themed outfits you've downloaded so they match your world. There are many challenges created by players that play out this very scenario. Check out Mod the Sims. EA simply responded to one of the most popular setting players recreate in TS.
 
Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link



<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

  Powered by Blogger   Free Page Rank Tool