As an avid sims fan since the end of Sims 1, I've been collecting all of the games, and couldnt wait to pre-order the new medieval spin-off.
If you're considering buying The Sims medieval purely as a sims fan, I would advise against it. If, however, you are a fan of stratagy games such as Civ, or other stratagy-based games, this may be for you.
Although you get the option to controal many characters physical appearences in high quality, Sims 3 standard detail, and you do get to pick 2 traits and 1 fatal flaw for each character, you get very little free style play in Sims Medieval. Through various smaller quests, your goal is to build and run a successful and powerful kingdom, having created the King or Queen sim to begin with after naming your kingdom.
A few small points that, hopefully, will be expanded on and improved by EA in the future but, as of now, are dissapointing:
One-style basic kingdom; you cannot controal the layout or physical appearence of your kingdom. Your goal in the game is to build set, pre-place desagnated buildings, however you cannot re-build, re-shape or majorly change any of these in ways that the average sims fan has come to take for granted.
Very basic choice in clothes & hairstyles; although each type of character (similar to professions in sims 3) has one or two unique outfits, on the whole, there are around 8 outfit choices per profession which, personally, I find dissapointing. You can recolour these, but when compaired to the sheer amount of choice available in previous sims titles, this is just dissapointing
No customize options / downloadable content: one majorly popular factor of previous sims titles has been the community created content available for players to download and share for free. This is not currently available in sims medieval, and, from the game menue screen currently available, doesnt look to be appearing any time soon.
Another major problem I've found is that there is no freeplay or sandbox mode. Having greatly enjoyed the freedom to explore and mess around in the sims, whilst still having my sims fufil their jobs, I found the very strict and limited gameplay in sims medieval to be the biggest dissapointment in the game. You select quests from a set-menue to complete in order to expand your kingdom, sometimes (not always) being given the option of which character will complete this quest. If you spend too much time doing your own thing and exploring, you get negative marks on your quest-trophy (draining it slowly from a starting silver down). However, if you focus too much on the quest at hand and spend no time on your sims needs and personal wants, as well as what is expected of them from their role, you get similar quest draining decreases.
The 'fatal flaw' also became very old very fast. Each sim you create must have 2 traits and 1 fatal flaw. The fatal flaw becomes too overpowering and dictates your characters actions far too much. Drunken sims get a massive -40 mood decrease if you do not give them alcohol each day, sims with a weak constitution get illness after illness without respite, sims who have the romance-based flaw also get the -40 if they do not kiss a sim every 24 hours, etc. Between juggling professions, quests and fatal flaws, there is not much time for your sims to do anything else.
So far, none of my sims have been able to have a family - this could, however, be something you unlock along the 12-playable 'kingdom goals' you gradually unlock the more kingdoms you create and complete, and I know the user guild does say offspring is a possibility - it just seems to be very hard.
The good points?
If you love strategy games and have wanted more in-depth detail than offered by games such as Civ on a smaller scale, then this if for you.
You can controal sims of various professions (King/ Queen, merchant, wizard, bard, spy, healer, preist amoungst others) on individual quests. Each completed quest increases the experience and potentially the level of the individual character, whilst improving your kingdom.
The opening cinematic is beautiful, and the voice over (done by Patrick Steward) is perfect.
I've found the need to complete a quest bypasses the enjoyment of exploring the world created in the sims medieval, as you feel rushed and pushed from quest to quest.
Quests and in-game character reactions are very limited, and become repetative very quickly. After 2 days of gameplay, I am already becoming very frustrated and bored of many of the quests and character dialogue.
Overall, a dissapointment - when looking at it as part of the Sims franchise. If you can forget that it is the sims, and consider it as a bog-standard stratagy game, it's about average. You can get a good 20+ hours of play out of it, though you will more than likely become bored of the repetativeness the limited number of quests produces.
I'd give it a 2.5 - 3 / 5 overall. Beautifully crafted world and clothes, with some clever little details. However, it's too restricted, too repetative, and just is not a sims game.