Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Medieval Times

As I already pointed out in my Weekend Update, I have bought “The Sims Medieval” last week and have spent quite some time with it already. I have a thing for the “Sims” games, ever since the first one was released years ago. Yet, with the new game, there’s also a big change.

The first and obvious change in the game is, of course, the setting. A fantasy-infused medieval age (no realistic middle age, but ‘feeling’ of medieval times) with a kingdom, a monarch and a couple of heroes. And ‘heroes’ also marks one of the most important changes. The Sims has always been about leading a family through life, doing everyday stuff, keeping them happy, well-fed, socialized, clean and so on. But “The Sims Medieval” isn’t about everyday life in the middle ages. It’s about building a kingdom and leading heroes through quests.

During the course of the game, you create ten heroes: monarch, knight, two priests (two beliefs), wizard, doctor, blacksmith, bard, spy and merchant. Each of them can be male or female, you can design them as you wish. They only have two characteristics now (and the list has shrunken quite some) and one great weakness which they might try to overcome with time. The needs have been reduced to two: hunger and energy. Heroes still have an inventory, can gain friends or enemies, they can also marry, but they don’t build up abilities (they level up and get new abilities this way).

On the highest level, you expand your kingdom and add buildings of various kinds (such as the monastery, the cathedral, the knight’s tower, the wizard’s tower, the east tower [where the spy resides], the clinic, the marketplace, the tavern, the blacksmith, but also mill, lighthouse and suchlike). You also choose which quest to play next (you can only play one quest at a time, employing one to three heroes in it) or commence a quest you have started already. In addition, you can take a look at the political situation there (or in the throne room, once you’re in life mode), see how your relationship to the other countries around is.

In life mode, very much like in “The Sims 3” as well, you control one to three of your heroes, make sure they do what the quest demands, but also keep an eye on their everyday life – there’s two duties for each hero to complete each day, apart from the current task or tasks the quest demands. Your heroes level up, just like the heroes in an RPG, but it’s not all about battling enemies (even though some characters, such as monarch, knight or spy, know how to fight). You talk to people, you produce things, you go looking for objects, you perform tasks according to your hero’s class (recite a poem as a bard, preach as a priest, forge something as a blacksmith) and many more things.

To a certain degree, you can also change your hero’s home (castle for the monarch, knight’s tower for the knight, east tower for the spy, wizard’s tower for the wizard/witch, clinic for the doctor, monastery or cathedral for the priest, smithy for the blacksmith, tavern for the bard, marketplace for the merchant). You can’t build like in The Sims, but you can buy objects (furniture and decorations) or change their placement. Instead of the 360° view of the former games, however, you see the buildings very much like dollhouses (which makes playing more fun, actually).

The Sims Medieval is a very good mix of strategy (build your kingdom, work with other kingdoms around), RPG (the quests) and ‘classic’ Sims gameplay (lead a sim’s life). It is not just a ‘let’s put the Sims in another age’ spin-off.

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