Review by steelcaress
A nice wrap up to the saga
I've read the reviews, positive and negative, and played through the game to the end. My 2 cents worth:
This is a beautiful game. Day and night cycles, unique architecture, cool looking landscapes, the tilesets didn't look stacked onto each other, giving it a more 3d immersive feel. I, for one, enjoyed seeing the places I visited in my youth lovingly rendered. Many of the characters looked unique, too, unlike games like Lionheart, where it's difficult to tell your characters from the enemies.
On Other Ultimas: I started with Ultima II, found & played through Ultimas I and III, and could never get through IV. Why? Because I found the virtues system absolutely abhorrent. I was used to being able to fairly well ravage towns in Ultima III, and they'd forgive and forget the next time I went in, everyone was all back ready for plunder. It was really necessary to solve Ultima II. All of a sudden, with Ultima IV, you're the ultimate good guy, and I could never figure out just how to tweak things to solve it. Ultima IV kinda reminded me of what happens when virtues get twisted to the extreme.
I will admit: when I first got U9, I hated it. It seemed to be poor graphically, and, while not more than my AMD 300 could handle, it still slowed down in towns. I plugged it in recently, and got hooked. While I found it hard to live at first, I not only installed several patches but I found an "economy patch" that gave me far more latitude in purchasing things. It was nice to be able to buy decent equipment, rather than simply finding it. The voice acting is poor, but I like the love story between the Avatar and Raven.
I enjoyed simply exploring this rich landscape. With a "speed cheat," I was able to keep from getting bored quickly. I've done that with a lot of games, where the developers seem to think that human beings move slower than turtles and snails.
Now, the game is buggy as hell, even fully patched. There were several clipping issues where I fell into big black voids and didn't die, but certainly had to reload, even with a no-clipping cheat I had enabled the first time such an issue cropped up. There were quest items that weren't there the first time (like the Blackrock crystal ball), and I was forced to reload and fight the bad guy all over again for my reward. There were item problems, as I somehow lost the Sigil of Compassion in Castle Britannia and couldn't remove the Sigil of Humility -- it was superglued to the Shrine and wouldn't come unstuck. That being the case, it broke the endgame. It would have been nice to know that you had to keep the sigils around with you in the beginning, maybe even have a "flag" system in place so that once you recovered the Sigil, it "counted" it and popped these items in your inventory for the endgame.
The endgame is visible from the Movies folder on the CD. Still, I would have liked to cleanse Britannia, destroy the Guardian, settle down with Raven, and have a "normal" life there or elsewhere. I would have liked a choice of how it would end.
Still, overall, I still played U9 and enjoyed it immensely. I would have preferred more freedom of choice and a nicer combat engine (ala Blade of Darkness, Conan, or Enclave), but it was still a fun experience.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
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