Review by Canadian Crippler

Reviewed: 03/11/03 | Updated: 03/11/03

Origin sure has a way with finshing out classic series with a bang....NOT!

When it comes to RPGs, I don't think I've anticipated any game more than this, and at the same time been more let down. This game is an utter travesty to the Ultima name.

Some of the strengths of the Ultima series for me personally were laid to waste in Ascension. The descent into mediocrity in some ways began with Ultima VIII. In terms of gameplay, I never liked the change from a multiparty system to a single player one. In VIII, the Avatar was in a completely new world and so his longtime companions could not be with him. With IX, I was awaiting the return of some old friends. But I was again dissapointed to find that you can only control the Avatar. And for some reason, old storyline threads were left dangling. For example, the game does nothing to explain how Shamino and Iolo escaped the Serpent Isle in VII Part 2. But the worst aspect of the game was that it played more like an action/adventure game than an RPG.

If I wanted Tomb Raider, I would've bought Tomb Raider, not a Ultima game. The game's reliance on some platform jumping elements, swimming, and mindnumbing dungeon romps requiring you to hit switch A to open door B annoyed me to no end. The problems with the action/adventure gaming elements were only compouned by shoddy programming. The collision detection was awful. I don't know how many times I drowned beneath the seas trying to search the very murky waters to find an entrance into one of the dungeons. Where there was clear water, all of a sudden I'd hit some imaginary wall or get caught by the sides of a surface many feet away.

Another huge detraction was the linearity of the game. You have ONE path in how you are to cleanse the shrines in the game. And there are few sidequests to speak of. You cannot steal all the money in Trinsic, buy a boat, and then whisk away for a voyage around the world the way you could in Ultima VII. What good is a gameworld if you are force fed it and not given choice was to how you wish to explore it?

And in speaking about the gameworld, I have to say I was very dissapointed here as well. I understand most of the cities were demolished by the Guardian as part of the story, but come on! Brittania is made up of a handful of buildings and inhabitants. Lord British's castle is a joke. It is made up of a few rooms. If you don't have the time to build up a city in 3D, then PLEASE don't use 3D! There is no atmosphere to a city that is so tiny, especially when compared to how it was in Ultima VII. Now THAT was a lively gameworld.

Finally, now for some good things about Ultima IX. The graphics. Excellent for their time. Gives you a good look into the future as to how Morrowind looks today when you saw it. BUT, this game ran like crap at release. Once again, Origin HAD to release a product that was beyond the capabilities of most people's PCs. Even worse, the built this game in support of 3DFX cards, at a time when it was clear tha Nvidia had taken the lead in the video card market. People running Nvidia cards like the TNTs and the new GeForce were having all sorts of problems getting decent FPS. Totally unacceptable to release a game that doesn't support half the video cards on the market!

I hate to say this, but this game is the worst end to any videogame series ever. It lacks most of the elements that made an Ultima game, it was buggy and ran poorly even on the top notch graphics card on the market, and was barely an RPG as is. I only felt utter dissapointment after playing this mess.

Rating:   1.5 - Bad

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