Big Brother may have been ticking our televisual voyeur boxes, but for those of us with a penchant not only for viewing but for controlling the lives of tiny people in a box, there's always been The Sims.
It's always been a series dominated as much by consumer culture as manipulating relationships for your own amusement. With a few mis-steps in the past, can the series' trademark gameplay survive the trip back to the mediaeval age intact, or is it only good for the stocks?
Who are ya?
At the start of the game you'll be asked to choose your Sim's profession, which will come to determine which story path your game will take.
There are four choices - Blacksmith, Squire, Scoundrel, or Peteran Monk - and throughout game these roles will evolve into higher titles. A Squire will one day become a full-on Knight, for example.
Once that's done you'll have to choose your starting appearance. There are a few fixed options initially - hair colour, skin colour, and the like - but as you advance through the game you'll be given profession-specific clothes or armour to customise.
Apart from your profession there's another sub-category into which your sim will fall. You'll have to choose his Archetype, which is to say his temperament.
Will he be Practical, Scholarly, Authoritative, or Free-Spirited? This choice doesn't alter the story, but it does make it easier or harder to maintain your Sim's relationships, as certain Archetypes, just like high school cliques, don't mix.
For example, Practical sims get on well with Free-Spirited sims, but put them in a caboose with a Scholarly Sim and it'd be like Bear Grylls sat next to Steven Hawkins in a pub.Ye olde quest journal
Controlling your sim is as easy as tapping the screen to walk to a location or to interact with an object, whilst dragging the screen will move the camera around, enabling you to search out your next objective.
Spotting objectives can be a mild hindrance to progress at times, as certain NPCs will move between the set navigable areas of the game, meaning you may have to hunt them down.
The isometric view in The Sims Medieval works well and the locations and characters are sufficiently colourful in what is definitely a tongue-in-cheek game. For instance, we very much doubt that people from the dark ages were as playful or as jocular about ticking off quest requirements.
Said quests tend to be similar in action but varied in context. You'll essentially be travelling from place to place chatting with people via menus, maintaining relationships, and playing mini-games (such as forging a sword or fighting a duel), though the mission text is bubbly and entertaining enough to maintain interest.To sim or not to sim
It does feel like the game wants to be a full-on point-and-click adventure, but it's tied down by its Sims roots, forcing you to stop every now and then to eat or sleep. These tasks, without a timed gauge depleting like in the original games, feel tacked on and pointless.
The Sims Medieval is stuck somewhere between the point-and-click adventure it wants to be and the life simulation it's based upon, with the one half stopping the other from truly taking flight.
For Sims fans looking for merely a straight-up transplant of the familiar gameplay into a different setting it may well be a little disappointing, but for the neutrals it's a colourful distraction.