Game Spotlight - The Ultima series

by ivrognard
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Game Spotlight - The Ultima series

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Ultima...one of the big three RPG series that changed the gaming world and put the bases of the modern RPG's, with many ideas still used even today.

 

Born in 1980 with Akalabeth, Ultima series quickly began one of the most popular RPG series out there. Each game would bring something new. Something innovative. 

 

If the original trilogy is something more of a classic affair, with good and evil and mechanics pretty well known in the modern times, the following trio of games, will see the introduction of the "virtues" and the appearance of the Avatar, one of the most known character in the old RPG's. Will also point the fact, that just like the other two big names of the time (Wizardry and Might and Magic RPG series), the Ultima series was always a mix between fantasy and science fiction, something that included time travel, parallel worlds, artificial intelligence and a few other things that some might say that don't belong in a fantasy game. But looking at the stories of those three series, you can see how well they've managed to intertwine fantasy and science fiction. 

 

Ultima managed to make people accept the mix between genre, almost effortless. It seemed natural, like both genres belonged together. And i am pretty sure that was a tremendous amount of work to make it look so. 

 

The Ultima IV-V sees the introduction of companions, but also the appearance of some big themes, like the cultural clash, racism or xenophobia. Yes, we are still talking the eighties. 

 

The final trilogy ahve seen a lot of changes., with Ultima VII being considered one of the best (if not the best) game in the series and having the first (and the last) expansion for an Ultima game. You could also boost your attributes in more non-conventional ways, like doing certain tests

 

Ultima VIII is the last of the game that is using the old engine and the first to use speech in the series. It also competes for the title of the best game in the Ultima series, so it's kind of a matter of which one is your favorite in the end.

 

Ultima IX - damn, this game had a troubled development. One of the first RPG's to attempt the new 3D technology, the game is infamous for its release bugs. Ultima IX seen a few techs come and going until it settled on one. A lot of things also happened internally with Origin System (the studios led by Richard Garriot, now under the EA's management). Origin Systems seen a lot of its talent leaving and the poor reception of Ultima IX led eventually to the cancellation of everything Ultima (there was Ultima X and Ultima Online II in works and a lot of us were excited at the time for potential new entriesd in the series). Also, this is what made Garriot to leave Origin Systems. The studios will be shut down a few years later, but the name remained and it will be eventually used to name EA's new client and store. 

 

Despite the many critics, Ultima IX is a better game than many are giving it credit. It was innovative for its time, the tech was far beyond what the competition used and it switches to a more action RPG type of control. That was kind of unheard for an RPG game made with a 3D graphic engine. While, there was a solid patching process, the game was made truly playable with the help of Ultima community which created an unofficial fix that would cover most of the serious remaining problems and a lot of the minor isssues. The game was quite fun to play afterwards, a testament to the dedication of the Ultima fans from everywhere. Which kind of makes things harder, seeing the series almost forgotten in our days. 

 

So here are my questions (along with my answers):

 

1. Did you ever played an Ultima game?! If yes, which one was your first?

 

My answer: yes, Ultima VI

 

2. Which one is your favorite and why?!

 

My answer: Ultima 8, the rich story and the vastness of the game

 

3. Your Ultima top games

 

My answer:

 

a. Ultima VIII

 

b. Ultima VII

 

c. Ultima IX 

 

4. Would you like to see another entry in the series?

 

My answer: definitely yes.

 

5. How did you stumbled on the series?

 

My answer: someone borrowed me its Ultima VI SNES cartridge. That was my first contact with the Ultima series. Consoles have seen a lot of those old RPG's and i've played them on the consoles, until i've managed to grab a PC copy. Say what you will, but the early consoles had their merits and contributed greatly to gaming popularity. Will never understand that war between consoles and PC gamers. So i am thankful to the old consoles for allowing me to discover a lot of the gaming legends. And i am thankful to the people that pushed me and made me discover so many wonderful games.

 

P.S.: i know that's a lot to read and that is a full chaos, but we are talking about the dark ages of the PC gamingStandard smile

I do not work for EA and i am not associated with the company in any way. I am a player just like you, trying to help wherever i can.I will not answer to any unsolicited PM.

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Re: Game Spotlight - The Ultima series

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Champion (Retired)

Ah, Ultima-series. My first game that really took me into RPG games, a game which taught me English when I was young, and annoyed my parents when I ended up asking silly questions like "Is Britannia the same as Great Britain ?" (In finnish, Great Britain actually is called "Iso-Britannia" which means "Big/Great/Main Britannia")

 

So, here's my answers :

 

1. Did you ever played an Ultima game?! If yes, which one was your first?

 

Yes, and my first were the Ultima I-III games. I unfortunately do not remember which I played first as to my child's eye they all looked very much the same and it's been too many decades since to know for sure. IV was the first I actually played while understanding what I am doing properly.

 

2. Which one is your favorite and why?!

 

I would have to say VII. Even though IV was the first game which got me into the series properly as a child and one I have huge nostalgia for, VII very simply is as a game the best out of the series in my opinion and definitely the high point of the series. Whereas IV symbolizes to me the beginning of an era, VII symbolises the end of an era after which it all started falling.. So both are equally as important to me, really, in the end.

 

Still, I say VII.

 

3. Your Ultima top games

 

IV - VII.

 

4. Would you like to see another entry in the series?

 

Definitely.

 

5. How did you stumbled on the series?

 

We had an old C64 in our household when I was a kid. My parents were teaching me since young age how to use computers and used the C64 for that purpose as it had long-lived its purpose already so even if I broke it, it wouldn't matter really. And the C64 happened to have some games on it, including the original Ultima I-III games. I didn't understand much of them back in the days, but it was my first touch to the series, regardless.

 

Eventually when I got an NES, I recognized that the Ultima III: Exodus I had on it was the same game I used to play back on the C64. It made me curious as to whether they ended up continuing this series if they ended up porting the game even so much later to the NES and I ended up finding the IV-VII series of games for the DOS which had come out by then. And through that I ended up playing the rest of the disappointments which came out later, and much later got into the Ultima Online, too.

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Re: Game Spotlight - The Ultima series

I am missing the Ultima series so much. It was part of my childhood and my introduction in the RPG genre. I've played all the three big names of the era (Ultima, Wizardry and Might and Magic), but Ultima was the one that always gave me that awe feeling, as with every entry it came up with something new (and some of that stuff, you don't see it in the modern RPG's - stuff like housing, having your own business, the reactive world).

 

I've played Ultima IX back in 2000, when i've managed to get my hands on the CD from the local retailer. Needless to say, i wasn't exactly impressed. What impressed me, though, it was the community's dedication, a dedication that led to that unofficial patch. When Ultima became available on GOG, i jumped right at it and bought the whole series. Sure, i have troubles replaying the old games, but Ultima VII - IX are still playable, especially if the graphics are not that important to you. And let's face it: RPG players were always easy to please in that department. 

 

I still dream about a new entry in the series. I think that the franchise has the potential for a comeback. EA could do what Ubi did with M&M X: Legacy - a smaller budget game. And that actually met critical acclaim in the ranks of the old fans and was well received even by newer fans, people that did not played something older than M&M VI (the RPG and not the TBS - people tend to mistake one for another). I am pretty sure that if you can rebuild the fan base with the help of a smaller, lower budget game, that would lead, eventually, to a proper entry, made with a serious budget. And EA has bigger resources and more talent than Ubi, so it should be easier for them to revive a cult series.

I do not work for EA and i am not associated with the company in any way. I am a player just like you, trying to help wherever i can.I will not answer to any unsolicited PM.

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