Staying with this past week’s medieval theme based on my reporting of Starz’s ‘Camelot’ and HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones,’ the newest ‘Sims’ game was released recently and is creating quite a buzz.  Many Sims fans believed that ‘Sims Medieval’ would resemble an expansion to ‘Sims 3’ but as others – and myself – have found out, it’s an entirely different game, and that’s a very, very good thing.

Having bought and downloaded the game, I jumped right in and expected more of the same -having to micromanage my Sims’ every activity, right down to their bathroom and hygiene necessities. Well, no more!  I was more than pleasantly surprised when I saw how little I needed to manage my Sims needs.  And, unlike previous versions where if my Sims married and/or had children, causing even more Sims to come under my control, I no longer have to micromanage family members.  My Sim’s spouse remains computer-controlled.  What a great feature!  Where before there was no incentive to growing my Sim’s family because of the extra work I would have to endure, playing is actually FUN again.

The entire medieval setting is so refreshing.  Instead of having to pick from the usual contemporary jobs in previous ‘Sims’ games (thief, recruit, politician, etc), each Sim you create has their own job function.  For instance, if you create a queen to run your kingdom (and you will have to choose either a queen or king in the tutorial), she will have certain job functions that she’ll need to complete in a particular amount of time.  These job functions will focus on what she does, so for instance one requirement might be that she holds open court and listens to three petitions, or writes an ongoing treaty of peace.  Conversely, if you create a wizard, you might need to learn particular spells and practice magic as part of your job duties (I just made my wizard and haven’t had much experience playing him yet). As you can see, each Sim is created (born?) into his or her own job function, which they tend to everyday with your help.

‘Sims Medieval’ resembles a certain popular MMORPG in more ways than one (yes, I’m referring to World of Warcraft).  For instance, there are buffs and debuffs that affect your Sim’s focus and mood.  The idea is to have more buffs than debuffs to help keep her focus high.  Some things are out of your control (being robbed, etc) but other things you can avoid to help protect your Sim.  For instance, if you wish to fistfight others, don’t be surprised when you receive a terrible debuff after being arrested and thrown in the stocks (medieval Sims don’t like to be publicly humiliated like that…can you blame them?).

Another similarity to World of Warcraft is the quest system.  Your Sim (or a combination of them) will be engaged in a quest at some point because an active quest is necessary to play the game.  That being said, you don’t need to forgo other activities and continually press forward with quest completion.  As long as you make progress to finish it, you can, for the most part, explore your kingdom and do as you wish.  Don’t wait too long though, or you’ll get a debuff that will direct your attention back to your mission.

The medieval surroundings are awesome.  Sims cook using a cauldron, spit or fireplace. Different medieval fare can be prepared; stews, soups and roasted meat are just a mouse-click away with the right ingredients in hand.  You can no longer burn your house (or castle) down by having a lower cooking skill because that’s been done away with (finally!). 

The physician attempts to heal patients with leeches and medicines that sometimes work and sometimes don’t.  The wizard casts spells, and again, sometimes with great accuracy and sometimes not.  Decisions need to be made that affect the future of your kingdom and you can only choose one path – as monarch, which do you desire more – safety for your people or absolute, crushing power?  You can only choose one.

All in all, it’s a fantastic game.  Many people who have tried it are disappointed that it’s not similar to previous versions of Sims, but this couldn’t make me happier.  I had stopped playing ‘Sims 3’ due to the worn out careers, tiring interactions between Sims and the fact that growing families made more work for me in the long run.  Now I’m enjoying a brand new ‘Sims’ game – the way ‘Sims’ should’ve been when it was initially created so many moons ago.