After nearly a decade of creating tiny people and screen-sized worlds to control and manipulate, Electronic Arts has, as of March 22, released its latest venture into life simulation by taking a step back in time.
“The Sims Medieval” creates a less customizable but more polished world — in this case, a kingdom — that puts the player in control as the Watcher, a guardian revered by the inhabitants of the feudal world. The Watcher has the ability to select and create Heroes that he or she can control and guide along a series of ambitions and quests to strengthen the kingdom.
EA has taken what is perhaps a risky step in removing some of the customization that was so prevalent in its previous games. Furnishings can be added and characters can be custom-created, but the option to actually build structures from the foundation up is gone completely.
Because devoted players on sites such as ModtheSims have been calling for medieval attire and structure for years, moving on to a more historical time period for the game is a smart decision.
Aside from the initial creepy realization that the game has been designed so these miniature human figures actually worship you — there are two buildable churches with playable positions devoted to the Watcher that include selectable actions such as “pray to the Watcher” and “write with the Watcher” — the gameplay paired with predesigned inhabitants and structures is interesting and refreshing.
The game is centered around quests much like those introduced for “The Sims 3” in the “World Adventures” expansion pack and involve tasks from simply gathering resources to finding magic fountains of lore. Premade buildings and characters reduce the monotony of trying to create the perfect setting character by character, and players who have found frustration in creating more complex storylines for worlds and characters will find a much friendlier game here.
For all the changes, there is no loss of the classic comedic elements that make “The Sims,” well, “The Sims.” This incarnation of the franchise is a more like an elaborate renaissance festival than something closer to an actual simulation of those times.
The new personality system of two basic traits and a fatal flaw, ranging from being a glutton to being too flirty, can add challenges to completing tasks or just amusing quirks to Heroes.
Overall, EA succeeds in creating an entertaining and colorful, albeit quite stereotypical, venture into medieval times.