Could EA have completely lost touch with their playerbase? It’s a widely known fact that never in the history of the Sims franchise has a player been the slightest bit tempted to bother, annoy, harass, or torture a Sim -- not to mention keeping the hapless buggers from showering or using the WC. So the new Sims Medieval: Pirates and Nobles expansion pack, which introduces an “interrogation chair” in which Sims can be tickled, abused by a chinchilla, or otherwise wheedled and cajoled, could represent one of the great missteps in the gaming giant’s history.
Or not. In fact, Pirates and Nobles is much more likely to keep the latest and most RPG-ish installment of the aging Sims family looking fresh and young for just a bit longer (or at least, so EA hopes). In addition to the usual raft of new objects, furniture, outfits and interactions that arrive with any Sims expansion (including fetching medieval-, pirate- and noble-style makeup, which the game had lacked till now), Pirates and Nobles adds a new quest storyline featuring two rival factions (guess what they’re called), and a pair of star-crossed lovers, each hailing from the wrong side of the
tracks moat docks ...you know what I mean.
And, boldly pushing the envelope of Sims-style storylining, Prats and Nobs puts you squarely in the middle of the love story -- even allowing your choices and quests to affect the outcome of the tale! Okay, so you may have seen this kind of thing before (if you’ve played an RPG at any point since this site was launched 138 years ago), but as Sims games go, this is a bit of a step forward, and it’s interesting to see this expansion push the game even closer to a more traditional RPG. Perhaps because the original Sims Medieval had already pushed it pretty far away from a more traditional Sims game.
All of which leads us back to the interrogation chair, which can be used to get various Sims to give up the information you’ll need to complete those quests. (That’s right, it apparently has a purpose other than letting you get your simulated schadenfreude on.) This makes quest-doing potentially more interesting than simply following instructions. Potentially. No word yet on what happens if you just leave a Sim strapped in there while you go away and have your non-simulated tea.
Pirates and Nobles introduces at least one new Kingdom Ambition, some not-very-exciting-looking-despite-the-tentacle treasure hunting, among other minigames, and two new pets: a pirate parrot and a noble falcon. While you’ll need these birds to attack other Sims in the course of your quests, they’ve got nothing on the Sims 3 Pets, which will be released this fall. I spent a few minutes trying out the still-in-development animal editor at a recent EA press event, where I managed to create what looked like a dog with the head of a pug grafted onto the body of a dispeptic German Shepherd, a single huge, emerald-green leopard’s spot gracing its coat. While that proved moderately satisfying, it looks like the Sims 3 Pets simply won’t be able to hold a candle to the grotesqueries possible in that other Will Wright creation, Spore. For torturing digital creatures, stick with the interrogation chair.
Pirates and Nobles is due out in August. And if you missed it, read Quintin’s review of his review of the original Sims Medieval. Oh, and before I forget: Yaarrr.