Well sportsfans it looks like I'm not checking back in to WoW... until Thursday. Continuing with my now wow game suggestions I'd like to submit to you The Sims: Medieval. I got to spend about 3 hours of one-on-one time with this little beauty and so far it hasn't disappointed.
The game looks gorgeous. The sims, as always, are very customizable and manage to look unique without looking freakish. The textures used are high quality and really give you a "Lord of the Castle" feel. Environments looks just as good as your castle and surrounding area are nicely detailed. I didn't really see any glaring graphical errors or much in the way of jaggies. It gets a solid Green + rating in the graphics department.
If you like sims games you'll probably love the gameplay. I say probably because while the basics of sim care are still there the house building/architecture aspect of the game is just flat out gone. Social interaction is at the core of the game now. RPG style "classes" have been added and each of these have their own special social interactions. For example your monarch can send people to the stocks while your wizard can do magic stuff. You can tell that care was taken in how each class benefits your kingdom as a whole and fits into the metagame.
One of the best improvements made was the ditching of most of the desire meters. No longer do you have to watch hygenie, bladder, fun etc. You've got Energy and Hunger. Keep your sim fed and rested and you're good to do most things. Now taking a bath, using the bathroom or participating in other fun activities will give you a temporary focus buff allowing you to be more succesful in your endeavours.
As I've had limited time to play I haven't been able to fully explore the gameplay but so far there's no free play option. The only time you can interact with your sims is when you're on a quest. You pick a quest while looking at your kingdom and then play as that sim until the quest is complete. While the more focused gameplay can be nice I miss the open ended gameplay of the sims a bit.
As far as not being able to build your castle goes; It isn't as bad as I thought it would be. I really was bracing myself to hate this game based on the fact that I couldn't create the castle that I wanted to live in. As I got further into the game though I found myself not caring about it as completing quests and managing my chosen sim provided more than enough activity to keep my caffeinated ADD brain occupied.
With the increase in structure comes a decrease in freedom of play but also a diminishing of what can be a steep learning curve for non-sim players. Ditching some of the micro management aspects of the series could bring some new people into the fold and I think the title is strong enough to keep most sims fans happy.
While the gameplay may or may not be your bag the interface is simple, the controls intuitive and the tasks offered are varied and just plain fun. In the gameplay department Sims Medieval gets an astounding Hungry Otter rating.
Is it worth playing? Most definetly. Is it worth plopping down 50 of your hard earned bucks? Probably not. It's a good game and fun to play but not a must buy. It doesn't break the mold but it gets a solid overall rating of Lama Force Epsilon I'd say wait for a steam sale and pick it up then.