Since I am a big RPG nut, it should come as no surprise that I like and play The Sims, in most all their generations.  The latest installment in the Sims franchise is Sims Medieval which I was fortunate enough to get from the boyfriend for V-Day.  And so far, I’ve given myself what I think is a permanent crick in my neck from playing this for hours on end.

For those not familiar with The Sims, here’s a quick rundown, at least for Sims 1&2.  I’m waiting to see if more expansions come out before I start stocking up on Sims 3.

So in the original game, minus expansions, you get to build a person called a Sim.  You decide what they look like, set some of their personaility traits, and send them off into the wide world to get a job, make friends/enemies/frenemies, go shopping for food/clothes get married, have babies, divorce, go on a murderous rampage, pretty much anything you want them to do.

Your Sim has certain needs that must be met, just like you.  Hunger, hygeine, comfort, etc.  Largely it is up to you to see that these needs are properly met around the daily tasks of life by interacting with various objects, but if left to it’s own devices, the Sim will see to these needs itself once they become dire enough.

Same with basic actions.  If you create a Sim who like to read, then when leave them alone for a bit they might wander off to the nearest bookcase to find something to occupy their time.

You also get to build homes for your Sim or the neighborhood in general.  You can create homes or community lots like malls, parks, etc.  And I mean BUILD from the ground up.  You get to decide the lot size, the shape and size of the house, masonry, roofing, windows, doors, and of course interior decorating.  That’s the gist of at least the first two games.  Now with the original game, you are limited in your choices for everything you can choose: decorations, clothing, hairstyles, building materials, etc.  But that’s where expansions come in!

Expansions are just that.  All of them add more objects in the categories listed above for you to choose from as you create your world to make it more yours.  And some of them have the added bonus of adding new aspects for the game.  For example, pick up the Pets expansion for Sims 2, and now you can own a pet of your very own!  The Seasons expansion gives you…well…seasons in your game.  Instead of it always being sunny and springtime, now your Sim can enjoy all the changes weather and nature have to offer!  The Bon Voyage expansion allows your Sim to leave your neighborhood for an exotic vacation destination that you can again create yourself, and so on and so forth.

The premise of Sims Medieval is a little bit different.  You are the Watcher: A godlike being who created a world and after sitting back to watch your creation and seeing them screw everything up, you’re taking a more active role in their lives. It took me forever to install the game on my computer, but damn it was worth it for those opening credits!

Now here you’re actually trying to build up a kingdom, rather than just building a random Sim and letting them run wild compared to Sims 1&2.  And since it’s a kingdom, there are a few things that you need to do.  You need to make sure that your subjects are safe, that they’re healthy and happy, that your kingdom is cultural and full of knowledge.  Each building you add to your kingdom give you the ability to add to your safety/health/culture rating, and you can fill those ratings to make your kingdom the safest/healthiest/whatever kingdom by fulfilling quests.  QUESTS!!!!

Sims Medieval has a lot of similarities to the rest of the franchise, but it also has some very big differences.

1: No build mode.  This makes me sad, and I hope they come out with an expansion that lets you build later on, because that is one of the things I like most about playing The Sims.  Instead in Sims Medieval you get pre designed buildings that you purchase as you play through the game and you can decorate.

2: You have goals!  The biggest downfall for me was that after the first week of The Sims, I got bored with playing it and just experimented with building homes and lots.  And for months that’s what I did.  Build.  But now in Sims Medieval as I mentioned before, you have quests that you have to complete and each quest builds up something: safety, health, culture, knowledge, etc, or a combination thereof.

3: You have to play the quests.  No choice.  When you enter the game, you choose an Ambition: Build a kingdom, rule an empire, stuff like that. Once you choose an ambition, you have to complete quests to fulfill it.  You can’t play your Sim unless you’ve started a quest, and if you take too long to complete a step, you fail.  And until you fulfill your ambition, you are only allowed to do quests.  No free range for you!

Granted this part of the game only really bothers me if I want my Sim to stock up on something.  I can’t play for a few hours, stock up on what I need, and jump back into a quest.  I have to do it in and around the quest goals.  But for those who like the original concept of the Sims games, creating a person to run around, get married, etc, this might be a bit more frustrating.

4: Achievements!  I think we all know the deal with these so I’ll move on.

5: You don’t have to be stuck playing one Sim.  With each building you add to your kingdom, you have the opportunity to add a new ‘hero’ Sim, a Sim you can play.  You can choose from one of two pre created Sims, or create on of your own.  So far I have a Monarch, a Spy, a Knight, a Physician, a goodly Priest, and Blacksmith.  I still need to build a Wizard, a Merchant, a Bard, and a not-so-goodly Priest.  (There are 2 different churches you can build in this world: one that preaches tolerance and acceptance, and one that preaches dominance and hellfire)  Each quest you get to choose one of your Hero Sims to complete it, and that Sim can actually level up like in most other games.  Leveling up doesn’t really do much.  You don’t get to add traits or anything like that.  It just give you bonuses to what you already can do.

Each hero can do something different, and most of them pretty self explanatory.  Monarch rule, can hunt creatures, and gather wildflowers.  Knights can hunt and fight, Spies can assassinate and make poisons, Physicians can heal the sick and gather herbs, Wizards cast create and cast spells, etc etc.

6: You get a few more character building options.  Nothing really big or fancy, but they’re there.  This time around you get to pick the voice of your Sim, as well as 2 ‘virtues’ and once ‘vice’.  The virtues make your Sim feel good as you meet their various requirements, and vice versa for vices.  Example: Scholarly virtue Sims will find joy out of reading a book, and Drunken vice Sims will be sad if they don’t have a drink for a while.

Oh, and you also don’t have as many needs to meet for your Sim, just hunger and fatigue; so that makes it a bit easier.

So for me, Sims Medieval is a big step up from the other Sims games that I’ve played so far, and therefore my favorite.  I am a creative person and I like a little bit of challenge to my games, and Sims Medieval fills both requirements fairly well.  Still want that build mode though….