Review: The Sims: Medieval
Ready to take on another life? To better yourself and help those around you? To immerse yourself in past times for fun and personal development? If so, you need the latest version of The Sims from EA and available to Nokia Lumia owners... The Sims: Medieval.
If you're familiar with EA's previous Sims release on Xbox Live (The Sims 3), then the user interface of the The Sims Medieval will be something you'll feel at home with. Navigate through the world with taps, interaction through menus, and perform actions with the icons around the edge of the screen.
The colour palette has changed, so the striking blues and clear icons from The Sims 3 to a more rustic and older mix of golds, yellows, and browns. Yes, it does add to the atmosphere and 'ye olde game' that Medieval successfully creates, but it also makes everything just a little bit harder to differentiate. They don't stand out over the environmental graphics and the natural colours used by the game engine. It's a small touch, but I think I would prize usability over atmosphere and tend more towards yellow as a primary colour.
One of the advantages that Medieval has is that EA have done a lot of Sims games for mobile devices. They've got the isometric graphical look sorted, so it is rare that you cannot identify what is going on in the game.
Ah, the game itself. I know that The Sims is advertised as this open world experience, when you can simply walk around, chatting to people, keeping your body in the best possible condition through eating, drinking, sleeping, exercise, and ablutions, but that gets boring very quickly. Which is why these titles are more like level based adventure games than you would think.
As you go about your daily routine, you will pick up things to do, from small goals and tasks right up to mighty quests that you would expect in an epic game set in ancient times, but they are mostly based through interaction and bringing something that a person needs. This might be a simple thing to find, or require a lot of work, negotiation with others, or involve a little bit of fighting.
It's this that gives The Sims Medieval a spine of a story and pulls you through the gaming experience, it's nice that you can keep your in game character health. It's good that you can talk to others. But it's the old fashioned questing that will keep you coming back to the title.
Controls are, as expected. relatively straightforward. There's limited direct interaction with the environment - mostly you'll be tapping to the point where you want your character to walk to, although tapping on anything physical (such as a bed, or another character in the game) will pop up a menu of choices for you to select from.
That means your choices are limited to those set up by the developers, but it also keeps the focus on the puzzles and what you need to do, rather than blindly trying to figure out what to say next. Frustration at not knowing what to do next, a killer blow in task based games, is pretty much eliminated. Pay attention, remembering people's names, their likes and dislikes, and you'll be half-way there.
There's also a decent level of replay on offer. by changing your character's personality during the set-up (perhaps from simple-minded to naughty) which gives you some different quests, and of course changes your interactions with the population.
If you like what you've seen in previous Sims games, you are going to love what you have on offer here. But for those on the fence already, just keep sitting there. There's nothing fundamentally new on offer here. The graphics have changed, the scenery is new, and the quests and goals have been altered to take into account the historical setting.
This feels more like a standalone expansion to The Sims: 3 than an original game, even though, on a strict interpretation, it is a standalone game, requiring no other app to be installed on your phone. There will be a lot of people out there who are looking for more of the same, and The Sims Medieval delivers that nicely. For everyone else who doesn't get what the fuss is about, this title isn't going to be the one that changes your mind.
Reviewed by Ewan Spence at