Eurogamer Review – The Sims Medieval

By Quintin Smith on April 6th, 2011 at 2:44 pm.

I always knew the doctor had a skeleton in his closet.

No idea whether The Sims Medieval is any good? I used to be like you. Except, you know, taller. And faster. Then I spent a whole weekend playing Medieval for Eurogamer, and as of today they’ve posted my review! It starts like this:

Here’s the best thing I have to say about The Sims Medieval, and it’s coming at you right this second like a fat child scudding down a water slide. The Sims Medieval is like nothing else I’ve ever played. It’s not even like The Sims.

And then gradually gets a little more specific. It’s a curious bit of game design, this one, and I think it has potential. Go read! Or just watch the lengthy launch trailer featuring him from Scrubs laughing way too hard after the jump. In the coming days I will, naturally, be recreating all of RPS as Heroes within Medieval and seeing what happens.

, .

53 Comments »

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  1. Kaira- says:

    My fiancee has been playing this like obsessed, and well, it seems interesting enough, maybe I should give it a try too. And if the review is anything to go by, I might even enjoy it. Honestly, is there anyone who hasn’t once thought about feeding their parents to whales?

  2. Uglycat says:

    Lady Candy.

  3. Consumatopia says:

    I’ve never gotten into any of the Sims games, but I’d like to see more serious exploration of games doing human interaction not through pre-written scripts but through dynamically interacting statistics and formulas.

    If we ever get believable character simulation in the future, it won’t be from taking today’s pre-written scripts and making them more interactive, it will be from taking today’s primitive simulations and making them more complicated and autonomous.

    • Jesse L says:

      Seconded! I hope to see more games like that. More and more I’m interested in games where I create my “own” story out of random circumstances and, if possible, terrain. If some semi-clever AI characters could be added to populate the game I’d be even happier. They wouldn’t need to have dialogue – I can barely stand game dialogue at all anymore, or at least, in this phase of my gaming life – just likes, dislikes, and goals of their own. Like The Sims, except with more adventure. Which I would have thought would be this game! But, apparently, not quite. Dream bigger, EA!

      Anyway, thanks Quinns. It’s hard to tease out the subtleties of a game you like despite itself.

    • Consumatopia says:

      I like the idea of adding more adventure. In fact, I remember someone explaining the original Sims to me back in the 20th century and thinking they should make some fantasy RPG equivalent.

      But I think what I’d be more interested in is less a change in subject matter and more a change in complexity and dynamism. From what i understand, the complexity of The Sims is strictly bounded–there are some simple stats that determine whether other Sims will be your friend, how satisfied your Sim is, how much money they have, how well they do at their job, etc. The game doesn’t move beyond the carefully balanced (carefully addicting) game play designed by EA.

      I’d like the see Sims that could start their own business that other Sims would work at and purchase products from, with a full simulated economy underneath. Or Sims that form political opinions and social movements–even Sims that could actually make specific political arguments to each other. Or Sims that could decide to form a completely different form of government. Spawn a bunch of Marxist Sims and watch everything go to hell. Or Sims that have abstract aesthetic preferences–for example, evaluating their furniture by how well how harmoniously it’s all arranged, or fashion in terms of symmetry, color, and seasonal trends.

      I mean, little of that is feasible today, but that’s the sort of thing I hope social simulators are working towards–having actual social agents, not 5 or 6 “needs” bars that I’m supposed to keep out of the red by remembering to tell them when to eat and go to the bathroom.

  4. Premium User Badge

    QuantaCat says:

    The most important question is.. How much is it like The Guild?

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      It’s very, very similar to The Guild 2, not so much the first one.

      Edit: Or rather, it’s what The Guild 2 could have been if it dropped the management of production and focussed on talking to people and doing quests.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Heh. The Guild 2 is one of those games you really, really want to love. The idea is ambitious and exciting. But the execution is godawful.

    • Premium User Badge

      QuantaCat says:

      Liked the first one loads, the second one not so much..

    • Gaytard Fondue says:

      You’d love “Die Fugger 2″, unfortunately it was never released in anything else than german.

    • Premium User Badge

      QuantaCat says:

      I dont know, it doesnt sound like you can marry a rich person, then have them killed and own all the money, and then marry even richer like in The Guild

  5. Simon Hawthorne says:

    Ha! STOCK Photography!

    Just wanted to show some appreciation for that gem.

  6. Premium User Badge

    The Sombrero Kid says:

    This has the potential to be devastating to my game playing/making as it combines the 2 things my fiance loves the most, period dramas and the sims.

    • Premium User Badge

      The Sombrero Kid says:

      She has little tolerance for cumbersome game design & the review looks like it’s riddled with it so i might not bother getting it for her.

  7. Premium User Badge

    Harlander says:

    I’m still very intrigued by this game’s potential; hopefully a few add-ons will flesh out the quotidiarian stuff and I can get the Crusader Kings-on-a-personal-level styles I’d been hoping for…

    Is it true that Sims don’t age in this?

  8. disperse says:

    This sounds like the absolute wrong direction to take the Sims 3 in. I’d be interested if it were the Sims 3 in a Medieval setting. You set a life goal (become king, slay a dragon, compose a legendary ballad) and then the game sets you free to accomplish the goal as you wish. The worst part about the Sims 3 were the things the game made you do every day just to get by. Locking away town building and character improvement behind quests sounds like a huge step backwards.

    Maybe I’m misreading the review but that’s what I got from it.

    • Quintin Smith says:

      Nah, I think you’re reading it right. It’s not a step backwards, though. More like a step sideways into a thorn bush. But the idea of taking away the Sims’ more materialistic component and swapping it with a narrative component does have potential.

    • Archonsod says:

      You’re not hugely constrained by the quest. If you ignore it you start getting a debuff which gets progressively worse as time passes, though you’ve usually got two days or so before that occurs and you can easily balance it out with positive buffs for the most part. AFAIK the only way to fail a quest is to get one of the essential Sims killed, otherwise provided you can keep their focus positive there’s nothing stopping you selecting a quest for the Sim you want to play and simply ignoring it.
      The real problem is there’s nothing much to do outside of the quests. In order to handle the quest focus they’ve stripped down the activities to the bare minimum, so there’s not a lot for your Sim to do if you’re not bothering with a quest.

    • disperse says:

      I have a combination of obsessive completionism (is this a word?) and a hatred of being told what to do which makes “to-do” lists in games abhorrent to me. I love sandboxy games like Dwarf Fortress and Minecraft and anything that moves the Sims away from that is a Bad Thing.

      You have a point about the rampant commercialism of the Sims 3 though.

  9. Archonsod says:

    It’s enjoyable enough, there’s some hilarious things in it and they’ve turned many things like crafting into little minigames.
    Agree with the review though, it’s content is a little sparse. Every kingdom has the exact same buildings to build, so after your second or third kingdom you’ve seen them all. Most quests have two paths through them, and there are some linked quest chains which are sufficiently long that you’ll only be able to complete one chain or so per kingdom. The problem is that the quests are also identical from kingdom to kingdom, so after completing a couple of kingdoms (there’s about 12 ambitions to unlock, which are basically overall goals for that particular kingdom) you’re just repeating the same thing over and over again. And they’ve removed much of what made the Sims interesting – you can have kids, but they never age past childhood, there’s no skills to improve or possibility of switching career or getting a better place (you can buy better furniture, but that’s about it).
    All in all, there’s a wonderful game idea here, but the sparse content means it quickly burns out the novelty value and turns into yet another grind. Though of course this being a Sims game I expect they’ll quickly start trying to pad that out with expansions galore.

  10. Serenegoose says:

    So, ah, just saying. Is the reason they have a black man doing the trailer because everyone in the -game- is white?

    Or was that trailer just unfortunately casted..

    • Grygus says:

      There is a full range of skin colors to choose from when you create your monarch and heroes, but yes every NPC I can think of was white. There are probably exceptions, because I wasn’t really paying attention.

    • Archonsod says:

      I’ve seen various skin tones in the NPC’s. There’s two types though, it seems to draw from a bank of pre-defined NPC’s for some roles and randomly generate them for others; the Effemont Elves are always the same for example, while I’ve seen a male and female Craftmont representative. There’s also some fixed roles (the consort, constable, orphans et al seem identical from kingdom to kingdom) while the villagers and some of the kingdom NPC’s are random (the town crier and executioner for example). The same is true for some of the quest NPC’s (most notably, in the knight tournament quest one of your opponents is a Saracen).

    • Hoaxfish says:

      It’s because Turk from Scrubs is great, don’t you love that shows, it’s so funny, and such and such. They probably couldn’t afford Chandler from Friends.

      See, pop-references or something.

  11. somnolentsurfer says:

    Does feudal Kriss Akabusi speak out in favour of electoral reform, like his modern counterpart?

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      Feudal electoral reform?

      Like, “You know, we should have elections. Ow, my spine!”

    • somnolentsurfer says:

      I’m fairly sure feudal David Cameron and Matthew Elliot wish they could use those tactics today.

    • Bhazor says:

      To be fair I think the feudal politicians would technically be defending themselves. Because feudal Paxman or Humphries would definitely be the first to use it.

  12. Silver says:

    Play it, or try it. ( I was bit suprised there’s no take on Sims:Medieval – it’s someways quite unique and stands out.
    I really liked the game, first time I just played mostly monarch, the knight, bard, and das evil drain-all-the-blood surgeon-guy.
    Still haven’t played wizard, priests, merchant and my uberfat clumsy blacksmith.
    you can do quests in quite many different ways, so it’s pretty cool.
    verdict: better than usual sims series imo. and more “adultish” you actually must got some brains :)
    and as said, it gets a bit boring after a 1-2nd playthrought, tho it takes time to play + ur hoping to see proper expansion for the future which I believe will deliever.
    It’s really neat! (e.g. you don’t have to wash yourself – never!)

    edit:
    one thing to add: game has a lot of content, but it still feels quite thin after some time, don’t know why :)

  13. Cooper says:

    So it’s a little bit like the Princess Maker series? But more fleshed out?

    This I like.

    • Silver says:

      there’s always a nude patch available, if that what you’re asking :P

  14. nimnio says:

    Sure, here’s mine:
    1. ???
    2. Orgasm

  15. somini says:

    Proving that sex has no profit…

  16. sbs says:

    1. undress
    2. sexy times!
    3. ???
    4. Profit

  17. Bhazor says:

    1: Orgasm
    2: Tissue
    3: Cry

  18. Rich says:

    It’s like Jay Leno selling Doritos. He should be ashamed.

    • Corrupt_Tiki says:

      Excuse me? That is mr Turkleton from scrubs, he Has no shame; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81NpdkTcMAE

    • Rich says:

      That at least was in character. This just shouts “yeah boooy I’m black and I dig this game! Watch me getting my black on while telling you about this game! Buy this game, black people like it.” It’s possibly the worst TV advert for a game I’ve ever seen.

    • Corrupt_Tiki says:

      Hmm, have to agree with you there. But then again, I haven’t seen any good game ads at all really.(excl halo:reach, and any of valves stuff)

  19. Jason Moyer says:

    1. beer
    2. zzzzz
    3. we did what

  20. Twisted says:

    1. Sex
    2. Baby
    3. ???
    4. Profit!

  21. DigitalSignalX says:

    1. Take out the garbage to the curb.
    2. Accidentally mention that the grass looked good.
    3. Mow the lawn while she does some errands.
    4. Accidentally mention that the grass looks better now while carrying her stuff from the car.
    5. Haul weed trimmer around every bush, tree, edge, and corner.
    6. Specifically do not mention grass.
    7. Run some errands she missed when she went out.
    8. Help fix dinner because her friends are coming over.
    9. Smile and nod when you’re supposed to for next couple hours.
    10. Clean up dishes and trash from kitchen, dining room, living room area while they’re out back admiring the lawn.
    11. “so and so is jealous of us”
    12. Sex
    13. GOTO 1

  22. snv says:

    That cant be true, Digital, sounds way to easy

  23. pipman3000 says:

    i can’t wait until they release the game of the year edition with all three billion expansions included.