When I started up the new Sims Medieval game for the first time, I was excited and captivated by what promised to be a new adventure filled with battles, beasts and heroes.
The first thing you'll notice is that there is quite a difference in the gameplay between The Sims 3 and Medieval.
The first character I created was a queen to rule over my new world. I was happy to be back in the familiar Create-a-Sim (CAS) screen and pleasantly surprised to see how much the facial features have improved since Sims 3, however I was a bit disappointed at the very limited amount of outfits available to dress my new royal lady.
The game is quest-based and with each quest you complete you get quest points, which you can then use to buy new buildings for your kingdom. These points also allow you to create new potential hero characters and unlock new quests.
With the help of the short tutorial I soon found my way around the new controls and started out on the first quest. The storylines are fun and easy to follow while the views of the kingdom are spectacular with lots of places to discover and characters to meet.
Each new character you make will have two traits, like Dedicate, Jokester, Earthy, Chivalrous or Friendly. But they'll also possess one Fatal Flaw, such as Drunkard, Coward, Cruel, Insecure or Cursed, to name but a few. These Traits and Flaws add an extra dimension of fun to the quests and there is always the possibility that if your Sim completes his or her quest they could get the chance to swap their Fatal Flaw for a new Hero Trait.
Although there is no build mode and you only get a limited 'doll house' view inside the existing building, you can still decorate the available rooms with some fun medieval content. The old stone buildings, traditional cooking methods and fun new interactions, like the sword fighting and market stalls, all help to draw the player back to the medieval times of chivalry and magic. You can accompany your Knight, Sorcerer, King, Merchant, Priest, Blacksmith or other Hero on an adventure that could change their destinies.
I was very surprised though when my monarch set off on her first big bear hunt. I followed her to the edge of the wood but then had to wait around while she disappeared from view to go hunting. All I got at the end of the sequence was a little pop-up message explaining her success.
The same thing happened when my queen sailed off to explore a new country. I could follow her to the docks where she boarded the magnificent ship but then got left behind as she sailed off on a new adventure without me.
This so-called 'rabbit hole' effect where the characters perform tasks unseen, happens in a few locations in the game. "Most of the exciting stuff supposedly happening to our characters we never get to see," one of my long-time Sims friends pointed out.
I think as a long-time Sims player I had different expectations of the new Medieval and took it for granted that we would still have the same amount of freedom when it came to controlling our characters day-to-day lives.
If you are new to The Sims and enjoy outcomes-based games then you should love the new Sims Medieval, whether you are visiting the market stalls or fighting off the pit monster the characters are fun and the quests should keep you busy for quite some time.
Hardcore Sims addicts however might get frustrated with the lack of open-ended gaming that we have come to love from the original Sims series. But don't give up on Medieval too quickly.
If you approach it as a completely new game and not another chapter in the Sims evolution it offers hours of entertainment and adventure. And who knows, maybe EA will bring out an expansion to give us more freedom in the future.