I've been out of touch for a few days. Part of that was because I was out of town for a wedding. Another - larger - part is because of The Sims Medieval.
So, let me tell you the story.
My wife and I got Sims Medieval on Thursday night. We had a Best Buy card come in (credit card reward), so we went and bought it.
Then the fun began.
My wife's problem: she tried to install TSM, and got a "cyclic redundancy check". Tried again. Same error. Tried again. Same error.
My problem: I couldn't even get the DVD-ROM's "Autorun" to open. I eventually decided to try running the program "as administrator", and it worked. Then, I had the same problem as my wife.
After several hours of fighting with the DVD-ROM's trying to trick them into installing the game, we decided to start downloading it as, apparently, EAlets you download a game for which you have the DVD key without having to pay anything. The download was supposed to take 8ish hours.
Just want to say: this was horribly frustrating. We had bought the game hoping to play it that night - ends up, we had to wait until the next day, because EA sent out defective disks. (I have no other explanation for why BOTH of our DVD-ROMs refused to install.) Good first impression of the game, EA.
Anyway, I get up in the morning and install the game on both laptops. The install actually works. So, I wait for my wife to get up, so we can play it. (We were going to leave town in the early afternoon, so we had all morning to play.)
She gets out of bed, and we start up the game.
And, apparently, EAhas already released a patch. The version we downloaded was version 1.0. Apparently, there are enough patches now that we're up to version 1.2.something. So, we have to wait another 20 minutes for the patch to download and install. (Took me twice that, as I accidentally hit "cancel" after the first download, so it didn't install.)
So, yeah. That was our first impression of the game. EA likes to send out defective DVDs and then release a game that is so far from ready that it requires two relatively major patches within the first week of release. Not impressed, EA. Not at all.
Anyway, we finally get to play the game - about 14 hours after we had hoped to.
The Game ItselfThe game is quite good, and is certainly addictive. It's recognizably "The Sims", but is very different from the main line of the game. Just to lay out the big differences:
(1) Simplified Create-A-Sim - Physically, the options are basically like in The Sims 3, though there's no "muscle tone" slider (yet, anyway). Personality has been simplified. You have 3 traits - one of which is a "Fatal Flaw". The Fatal Flaw has some drawback associated with it - for example, I had a "Cruel" sim, and it had to do mean things to other Sims about twice a day, or it would have a penalty to its "Focus" (think "Mood"). Some of the Flaws are pretty amusing - my wife has a Sim with "Whale Ate My Parents" - and she has to occasionally scream at the sea or have a focus penalty.
(2) Limited Sim Control - Unlike in The Sims 3, you can't control just anyone - or even every member of a household. You can only control Sims that are directly related to the current Quest. The other Sims live out their lives as best they can until a Quest comes along that is relevant for them.
(3) Quests - in The Sims 3, Sims have Ambitions and Wants. In TSM, your KINGDOMhas an "Ambition" and "Quests". The Ambition is an over-arching goal for your Kingdom. (The first one is just to build lots of buildings - which requires getting resource points, which requires doing quests.) Quests provide certain benefits for your Kingdom - increased knowledge, well-being, resources, and so on. To play in "Live" mode, you have to be on a Quest. One thing to know: You have to "buy" quests with "Quest Points", and you have a limited number of those. So, you can only do so many quests in a Kingdom to try to achieve your ambition. Quests are basically an ordered list of tasks - typically with some choices in them. You choose a Quest, an Approach, and a Hero Sim (or Sims) to be involved in the Quest.
For example: My current quest is to deal with a dragon that has taken up residence in our kingdom. The two approaches were "Slay It" or "Befriend It". I didn't have the right Hero Sim to "Slay It" (my knight wasn't a high enough level), so I had to "Befriend It". So, my Merchant and my High Shepherd (priest) are working on that right now.
One thing that wasn't clear in the previews: you get to choose your quests. The game provides you with a list - typically about 6 - that you currently have at least one possible approach for. So, there's a lot of choice, here. Quest, Approach, and involved Sims are all things you get to choose - within certain limits, of course.
(4) Hero Sim Roles - One of the big limits is that your Hero Sims have roles, and those roles have role-specific abilities - and role-specific responsibilities. Every Hero Sim has two responsibilities every day - but they're not the same every day. For example, my High Shepherd has had to: heal people with prayer (basically), give sermons, make converts, discuss The Watcher ("god") with converts, write religious documents, make proclamations, and so on. 2 each day. If you fail to fulfill your responsibilities by the time the clock runs out, you have a negative moodlet(though IthinkTSMcalls them "aspects")that penalizes your focus.
(5) Directed game play - the "game" then isn't like The Sims. The Sims is very open-ended and player-directed. You can basically do whatever you want. Not so in TSM - there is a lot of choice, yes. But, at the end of the day, if you're going to win the game (and you can win the game), you have to manage your kingdom's resource points and quest points so that you fulfill your kingdom ambition, and you have to manage your Hero Sims' responsibilities and Quest tasks so that they complete Quests well. So, the game is pretty directed. At the same time, there does seem to be plenty of time for you to play around inside the game. As long as you don't drag your feet horribly and manage your sims' moods (I mean "focus") well, taking a bit longer to complete Quests is actually a benefit. So, there's time for Sims mischief, mayhem, and matrimony even while you're befriending dragons and making converts.
(6) Limited building - If you played the Sims so you could be an architect, then TSMwill disappoint. The only "building" choices you get are what types of building to build (Wizard's Tower, Clinic, Smithy, etc.). Once you do that, you can still decorate, but you can't add rooms or design buildings.
(7) Fewer needs. In TSM, Sims have two needs: Hunger and Energy. No need to spend hours watching your Sims play computer games so they don't get "stressed". No need to make Sims socialize so they don't get "lonely". Just make sure they eat and sleep, and your needs are taken care of. This lets you do responsibilities and quest tasks. (One thing: even though Sims don't need to use the restroom or bathe, they still CAN. When they do, they get a positive moodlet/aspect, but there's no need to make them do that if you're pressed for in-game time.)
I think that highlights some of the major differences I've noticed. On the whole, I enjoy playing the game. Depending on when class is over tonight, I might even play some then... But, the install process was a pain. So, if you're thinking about getting the Sims Medieval, don't plan to get it right before you want to play it - odds are reasonably good you'll have the same error my wife and I ran into - from what we've found, it's a common error. So, (1) "Run as Administrator" if Autorun won't open, (2) If you get a Cyclic Redundancy Check, just go straight to the EA Downloader and download the game. It will take forever, but you can at least avoid the frustration of trying to come up with a faster solution. From what I can tell, there isn't one.