The Sims Medieval

Create and rule your own kingdom
SeriousGamer - Staff Reviewer

Content at a glance:

Violence: Fights are seen with swords or fists, some fights result in death, Sims are fed to beast and set on fire. Dead Sims collapse and vanish.

Spiritual Content: Hero class Wizard casts spells, looks into crystal ball, Hero class Priest(s) can pray, player is understood as diety, Grim Reaper appears.

Sexual Content: Sims seen in underwear or naked with blurs, Sims can have sex in bed.

Drug and Alcohol Use: Sims can brew alcohol and create poisons.

Simulated Gambling: Card game is played for in-game money.

Lawlessness: Hero class Spy can steal from other Sims.

Reviewer’s Note: This review was written for the base game and does not cover the content in the Pirates and Nobles expansion pack.

In days of old, when knights were bold…or cowardly, morose, or even drunk, the player could always make them whatever they wanted. Doesn’t make much sense right at first, but that’s the idea behind the latest title from Electronic Arts. People seem drawn to ye olden days for some reason. It’s the setting for many a fantasy story, and I suppose that appeal came to the company that brought us The Sims series because they decided to bring players into the old world with The Sims Medieval.

Most people remember EA for their life simulation series, The Sims. People seemed to like playing with virtual dolls so to speak as they got up, ate, went to work, and had families. For the most part, that tried and true formula remained the same, even into 2011. Of course, the suburbs can only be carried so far. Now, the PC pretending takes players into the age of kings as they direct the steps of lords and ladies and build a kingdom. The question is…will you want to let your kids build it?

Story

The Sims series was never really big on stories, and for the most part, Medieval stays true to that aspect. But  behind that open-ended idea, there’s a bit of a tale to be told about the days of old before knights could be bold. In the game’s opening sequence, you learn that you are the Watcher, who for the past thousands of years, has observed a growing land. The people honored you, but that’s about all that you as their guide could give them credit for. You watched as famine, plagues, violence, and, worst of all, those nasty dire chinchillas ravaged the land. At long last, you realized something; something critical to the survival of the land. In the words of the clip, you discovered that people are, in fact, dumb. Hard to believe it took that long to figure it out.

Of course, you couldn’t be just the Watcher if you actively directed every step of your idiotic citizens. Oh, you could give them a little nudge towards good judgment, but then they would have to call you the Doer instead. So, you realize that you need a team. You need a team of heroes and heroines who will give the people the guidance they so desperately need. And one day you get the first member of your dream (or nightmare) team as a young lord (or lady if you prefer) arrives to build a kingdom. Whether or not the kingdom thrives or fails is up to you. Just another day as the Watcher.

Gameplay

While Medieval stays fairly true to the open-ended play style that defined The Sims series, there are a few variations. To start, this game actually has an ending. You begin by picking an Ambition for your new kingdom. Once you do that, you can take quests from a list. The types of quests will depend on what Hero Sims you have available, more on that in a minute. Each quest costs a certain number of quest points (QP), and when you run out of QP, the Ambition is cleared and you will receive a ranking depending on your performance.

By completing quests, you will earn renown points (RP). You can use your RP to construct buildings which will either give you more Sims to make or just improve some aspect of your kingdom. When you create your Sims, you will have to give them two traits and one fatal flaw, and these range from vain, to bloodthirsty, to drunk.

If you’ve played any of The Sims games, you should be quite familiar with the controls. While in a quest, you select an object or a Sim, and a menu will appear with certain interactions. Pick an interaction to have your Sim perform it. Interactions will vary from Sim to Sim. Due to the RPG aspect of this game, Sims can gain experience points by moving the quest along or by doing certain things related to their class. You must move your Sims forward in the quest while also keeping an eye on their needs, which are displayed as meters. One other important meter is your quest performance. This meter will fill or empty depending on how well you’re doing in the quest. If it empties entirely, your Sim may face some rather painful consequences.

Offensive Content

Violence

The Middle Ages weren’t exactly peaceful times. Sometimes things got settled at the point of a sword, and Medieval carries on that tradition. Certain Sims can challenge other Sims to duels, sometimes to the death. If you fight, you will largely watch the combat going on and can direct your Sim to perform different moves. One of these is called the Mortal Blow, but there is nothing mortal about it. Sims will not die in battle unless the duel is explicitly to the death. In both cases, there is no blood or gore, and defeated or killed Sims will simply fall on the ground. The one difference is defeated Sims will eventually get up.

As the Monarch, you can also arrange executions. The death sentence is carried out around a large hole, aptly named the Pit of Judgment. Sims under condemnation are thrown into the pit to be eaten by a large beast with tentacles and a snapping maw. They don’t go down without a fight, so you will see the victim fighting the beast and being slammed around by the monster as well. If the beast wins, you will see a bunch of bones tossed out of the pit.

Sims can also be poisoned or set on fire. The latter case is played for laughs as Sims are showed after wards in a cartoon-like singed state, complete with black marks on their bodies and spiked hair. Sims can also get into fistfights with other Sims, and they’re showed wrestling around in a cloud of dust with blows being heard. Fighting may be part of a Sim’s nature depending on their traits. Sims can also take part in a rapid-pace ball game that can end up with a Sim taking a ball to the belly.

Sims who die from causes other than the beast, such as from illness or starvation, will simply collapse on the ground and disappear.

Spiritual Content

It’s established before the game begins that you are the Watcher, an unseen deity-like being who has watched the land grow and develop. While you were honored, you took a very hand-off approach to running things. The Watcher is represented by an eye, which is seen several times on banners.

Besides the sword, the Middle Ages saw churches, and believe it or not, Medieval does the same. The Sims has typically been void of spiritual material, but in this case, it’s more along the lines of the period than anything else. You can build two types of churches in your kingdom, the Jacoban cathedral and the Peteran monastery, and gain the resulting priests. For the record, neither one can stand the other. Perhaps it was only me, but these two conflicting styles seemed almost reminiscent of the conflicts between churches in the olden days. Anyway moving on.

Both priests can preach sermons in the language of the Sims,  which is entirely gibberish. Sims can be absolved of  sins or prayed for. Jacobans can reflect on the Watcher, while Peterans can study and pray to the Watcher. The Peteran prayers for the record look more like reenactments of The Karate Kid. Can you say, “wax on, wax off?”

Other spiritual material includes magic. If you construct a Wizard’s Tower, you will unlock the Wizard class. This Sim can mix potions, gaze into their crystal ball (to no effect for the record) and, as expected, cast spells. Most of their magic seems near enough to fantasy, such as shooting energy beams out of their hands, teleporting, and making plants grow. Other spells come across as slightly more in line with the occult. You can curse Sims, making them have a load of bad luck, and another is described as capturing souls into balls. During one quest with the wizard, you must learn a spell that will purge demons from other Sims. Of course, your kingdom doesn’t need a wizard.

When a Sim dies, the Grim Reaper will appear to escort the dearly departed one to the afterlife.

Sexual Content

When your Sim takes a bath, you will see them spin around and, poof, off comes the clothes. So you will see your Sims naked, but with sensitive areas blurred out. Sims also appear in their underwear, which is quite tame looking, after being burned or after a lost fight.

Sims can form romances with other Sims, even if they are of the same gender. Interactions include kissing with various degrees of passion, hugging, and caressing. Your Sims can also have sex, referred to as WooHoo. Nothing is seen except for the sheets on the bed moving around and an arm or leg occasionally sticks out. Of course, this is has been part of the series since the beginning, so this should come as no surprise.

One fatal flaw Sims can have makes them a tad bit perverted. Such Sims will fall into bad moods if they go without WooHoo for long.

Drug and Alcohol Use

Your Sims can brew wine, ale, beer, and other intoxicating beverages of the day in kegs or they can buy drinks from the tavern once you build one. If you have your Sims drink too much, they will, as you can guess, become drunk. The inebriated Sims will pass out and throw up, and their moods will suffer the more they keep consuming. One fatal flaw will leave Sims with the desire to drink.

Certain Sims, namely the Spy, can craft poisons that will leave various effects on the victims or even kill off a few people too.

Gambling

If you choose to give Sims a certain flaw, they will want to gamble on a regular basis. They can participate in card games that have no resemblance to any modern games of chance, although you can still lose money.

Mild Language

This came as a surprise to me in a game where no one talks, but on one occasion the word d**n was displayed in a text box. This is the only instance where I saw the use of crude language in the game.

Lawlessness

Sims can cheat at card games and steal from other Sims. Stealing is limited to the Spy class, however. Consequences for lawless or even immoral behavior are fairly light.

Noteworthy Elements

Despite the many flaws, you can play Medieval in the same manner as other titles in the Sims series. You play as you see fit. While poor choices are available to you, you do not have to play that way.

Conclusion

It’s been said that the real test of character is power, and The Sims games has always been about the idea of some form of power. You had complete control over the lives of your Sims, making it more of a toy than an actual game. I have to say I liked it. The Sims was so different from other games of the genre that I’ve played, and that difference was what made it appeal to gamers. I mean as kids we would play house, and it was essentially the same thing, just on the computer. So when I heard about The Sims Medieval, I was thrilled. All I could think about was running my own kingdom, and I’ve enjoyed every step of it.

But that’s not to say this game is flawless. I admit the quest-based style of play didn’t quite strike my fancy. I hated the idea of a Sims game with an ending to it. Plus, you only get to control certain Sims some of the time. And it didn’t feel like the other Sims games I’ve played and enjoyed more. Still, this game is fun for the fan of the series.

For the discerning gamer, on the other hand, this game offers more problems than solutions. It’s one thing to play as a Monarch or a Knight, and in all truth, the Wizard doesn’t seem like the result of a plot to brainwash the youth. For the most part, there’s more fantasy to it. Still, the Merlin wannabe could easily pose a problem. Adding to that is the fact that Sims can cheat, steal, drink, fight, and bed partner after partner with little to no consequences. True, you don’t have to play that way, but you gain nothing for that restraint. Plus, you can attach some pretty serious fatal flaws, like having a priest with an evil streak. Is this game for you? Maybe not, at least not without some discussions about why the real world works differently.




Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Eden Communications or the Christian Answers Network.

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