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-   -   Ultima IX - Retrospective @ Eurogamer.de (http://www.rpgwatch.com/forums/showthread.php?t=11128)

Myrthos August 11th, 2010 01:50

Ultima IX - Retrospective @ Eurogamer.de
 
The German Eurogamer site looks back to Ultima IX explaining why it is a failed classic but still looks well on modern hardware.
For those with Challenged German, here is the Yoda translation of the article.
More information.

Michael Dean August 11th, 2010 01:50

This article very fairly summed up what the U9 experience was for most of us, I think. It suffered, of course, from Origin-itis, in which it was made for systems that generally just weren't out yet. It furthermore suffered from publisher-itis, in this case EA's push to get it out in the stores before the next fiscal quarter. Origin had always been a bit like Blizzard before EA took over…it will be released when they deemed it ready. They may not have always turned out the game everyone wanted to play, but they did tend to turn out the games they envisioned, and they were usually pretty low on bugs. Too bad that changed so drastically once they became part of EA. It's what drove the final nail into the Origin coffin.
All that said, I thought U9 was fun for what it was, especially once I had a computer that could run it. They kept the spirit of world-interaction, mystery, and exploration. The locales had character and charm. The NPCs were less fleshed-out than they may have been, but since a lot of us had grown up with these characters, we projected what was missing onto many of them.
There's so much to be said about this title that I can't cover all of my thoughts about it here; but the author of the article mirrors my feelings pretty well.
Say what you want, but Origin/Garriott are the reason I got into making games in the first place, and I know I wasn't the only one.

DPB August 11th, 2010 02:10

Having only played the demo before (which ran incredibly slowly back then so I didn't buy it) I tried this a couple of years ago and it was a huge disappointment. I remember reading reviews when it was released that said without the technical issues it would be an amazing game, but even with most of the problems fixed with patches it seemed like nothing of the sort. Most of all, I was disappointed by just how poorly written the dialogue was compared to some of the earlier games. I never got very far but the combat and story were so uninspired I saw little reason to continue.

Does it get any better as you progress further and is it worth giving another chance?

blatantninja August 11th, 2010 02:34

If you are going to play it, I HIGHLY recommend the community mod that changes the dialogue to make it conform a little more to the series.

That said, I would skip it. I bought it new and could never get it to work on my PC. A few years back, I finally decided I should play it for the 'closure' factor. At first, it wasn't bad. True, it was not very much like the other Ultimas, but it had some redeeming values. The sunsets still are some of the best I have seen in a game.

But the game play and story were just awful. By the end, I was getting angry just forcing myself to finish it. I figured, at least there might be a payoff at the end and that would be ok. Not really. Loathed the ending too. At the end I had a really bad taste in my mouth. I literally would get angry just thinking about the game. I ended up loading up BG:tutu and playing through to the end of BG:ToB just to purge U9 from my memory.

Honestly, the Ultima 6 Project is what Ultima IX should have been.

Corwin August 11th, 2010 04:34

If you like arcade action games then play U9. Otherwise give it a miss; I hated it!!

Lucky Day August 11th, 2010 04:42

(Origin-itis, good word)

Man, what is their left to say about it? It sold 75k units total. It really is another first for the Ultima series in the fact that it was the first game to get so many complaints the forums were wiped.

There was a terrific website on it once showing some of the things you could do when it was bourqued, such as climbing your way to freedom from the Guardian's destruction.

This 3D U9 was actually the second crack at it. The first time they started work on it most of the devs were pulled off it to rush out Ultima Online.

One of Garriot's buddies revived interest in it at EA when he discovered what great framerates they could get on a Voodoo card - which turned out to be one of the downfalls of the game because 3dfx was out of business shortly after U9 was released.

But the game is beautiful, if you don't mind the lack of lip-sync. I was especially impressed by the lightning sword, the cleansing of the shrines, and especially Moonglow!

It was just a shame EA would never use those art assets again - seemed like a waste to discover they didn't plan to use them in UO2 or Ultima X.

Galaad August 11th, 2010 07:41

*sigh* I remember the game all too well heh. I still have the box sitting on the shelves besides my desk :P. One of the nicest box I'd ever seen back then too! Still have some tarot cards that came with it but lost the cloth map :(.

I was so darned upset heh! I was 17 back in 1999 and I had just spent most of my hard earned money on a Maxi Gamer Riva TNT2 Video card by Guillemot! The rest of it going to the purchase of the game and some ram…

Only to then discover that there was a gamestopping incompatibility (The game only worked "ok" on 3dfx GPU) that would cause the game to crash and make you unable to go any further… I think that was rather late in the game. Some puzzle where you had to jump to blocks or rocks in uhm… well I think it was a room filled with lava. Can't say for sure, but what I do remember is being mad as hell :P.

Grandor Dragon August 11th, 2010 08:39

Poor, shallow plot with lots of inconsistencies, tiny world, horrible voice acting, no party. This game was a huge disappointment. However, the 3D-ness was phenomenal at that time, and while the cities and locations were small, they were beautifully designed. It didn't help, though. By the end of the game, I was completely detached from the plots and characters, and just wanted to get it over with.

GothicGothicness August 11th, 2010 08:58

It was a fantastic game…. don't get me wrong but it looked 10 times better than anything else at the time and it was still eons ahead of its time, I had a lot of fun just exploring all the extremly beautiful locations… and I loved the labyrinth outside of the castle…. and you could build stairs of bread to reach the top of a tower.

Too bad it suffered from what almost every modern game do focus on technology not on gameplay/story. I still cannot deny I enjoyed it though.

+ It had lots of cool things… like if you got hit by the arrow it'd stay inside you… and you'd be bleeding. The fire sword which produced light on the beach. Climbing to mysterious locations…. lots of things to love about it… but it just wasn't well an Ultima in the sense of the earlier ones with a party and less focus on action + fantastic dialogue and story.

elikal August 11th, 2010 09:23

A good sum up. I was one of those die hard Ultima fans who had played Ultima VII about 20 or 30 times. So I knew every little detail about Britannia, and BOY I was so pissed when almost everything of the past was lost. So many people who just had vanished and never ever mentioned again. The destruction of Britannia was just WAY too much. Most cities were just three or four buildings. Especially compared to my experiences with Daggerfall from that era, I really had hoped for larger cities. Most of them were just quickly patched together, and those lost zones which you could enter with a cheat, showed how much unready landmass was in the game.

I always felt releasing the game in the first version, this isometric view, would have been way better. It would have been released earlier and thus not have this "we must make it look like Tomb Raider" idea.

Tbh. I hate both plots. The idea to destroy Britannia sounds like a horrible idea to finish a 20 year legacy. But of course making the Guardian the Avatars evil side… it ruined everything the Avatar stood for, for so many years! God, I was so angered back then. My wish would have been that the continent of Britannia would have been restored to the way it was, and in my imagination I always thought this was the ending.

They lost the vision of what made up Ultima in so many ways. Even Ultima 8 showed that. Aww well… Britannia and the Avatar surely would have deserved a better tale.

Alrik Fassbauer August 11th, 2010 11:44

Quote:

Originally Posted by blatantninja (Post 1061020345)
If you are going to play it, I HIGHLY recommend the community mod that changes the dialogue to make it conform a little more to the series.

Question 1 : Where to get it ?
Question 2 : Other languages than English, too ?

By the way, I have the box here, too.
I only vaguelöy remember buying it when it was marketed down - now I'm glad I did, because with all of its contents, it still stands out.

Too bad I didn't buy the "Ultima Collection" that came out around that time. I better should have done it, but I think I remember I just didn't hve the money for it.

Gorath August 11th, 2010 12:52

You mean the Dragon Edition? I've got one here. ;)

blatantninja August 11th, 2010 13:04

Quote:

Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer (Post 1061020379)
Question 1 : Where to get it ?
Question 2 : Other languages than English, too ?

By the way, I have the box here, too.
I only vaguelöy remember buying it when it was marketed down - now I'm glad I did, because with all of its contents, it still stands out.

Too bad I didn't buy the "Ultima Collection" that came out around that time. I better should have done it, but I think I remember I just didn't hve the money for it.

Well, actually there are two patches:

1) This one is supposedly done by one of the designers to fix many problems in the game: http://reconstruction.voyd.net/zips/u9ver119.zip

2) Here is the dialogue patch: http://reconstruction.voyd.net/zips/u9fanpatch160.zip

I'm betting it is English only, but not sure. Also, if you are going to use it, disable the speech function in the game, otherwise you'll have audio saying one thing and the subtitles saying something else!

I read a review that once said that the biggest problem with U9 was that the world, while beautifully done, just felt absolutely empty. I think that is spot on (maybe not the biggest problem, but certainly one of them). In U7, most of the towns were huge, crowded bustling mini-cities, that you could tell had grown from each incarnation to the next. In U9, they seemed spread out and practically vacant.

Grandor Dragon August 11th, 2010 13:21

It's in English only. We were working on an Elizabethan version until mid-2001 (with thees and thous), but to be honest, we lost interest when Ultima Lazarus came up.

blatantninja August 11th, 2010 14:02

One thing that I have always wondered is why the Lazarus and U6P teams decided to remake those games, rather than to create a proper Ultima IX in Dungeon Siege. Not that I am complaining, I love both those mods! I know there have been some efforts to make a Ultima IX in Oblivian or something, but just not the same.

GothicGothicness August 11th, 2010 14:10

I still don't understand why they are using dungeon siege engine, it is a mystery to me…..

blatantninja August 11th, 2010 14:58

Quote:

Originally Posted by GothicGothicness (Post 1061020405)
I still don't understand why they are using dungeon siege engine, it is a mystery to me…..

I believe that the main reason was that it was one of the most highly moddable engines out there. Pretty much everything in the game can be changed to suite the project, unlike most modable games.

GothicGothicness August 11th, 2010 15:02

Well, they could have used a modern free engine… compared to creating content such as 3d art… programming is a small part of the work + the amount of people who could play it would've been much greater. But maybe they are also using a lot of assets from dungeon siege instead of creating their own… which would save time.

blatantninja August 11th, 2010 15:15

Quote:

Originally Posted by GothicGothicness (Post 1061020413)
Well, they could have used a modern free engine… compared to creating content such as 3d art… programming is a small part of the work + the amount of people who could play it would've been much greater. But maybe they are also using a lot of assets from dungeon siege instead of creating their own… which would save time.

How many of those engine's were available in 2001 though?

crpgnut August 11th, 2010 15:27

@GothicGothicness:

The biggest single reason was lore, I'm guessing. Ultima V and VI had parties of 8 characters. Dungeon Siege was the only engine, at the time and today, that allows a party of 8 characters. Remember they started modding the game 10 years ago. They didn't have many of the options available today. I would have given up a party of 8 in a heartbeat and made the game with NWN's engine, but that isn't what they decided to do. DS really does allow you to change a ton of stuff, so that had to be a strong plus. If you haven't played this and love Ultima, you're doing yourself a terrible disfavor. This game just NAILS the feel of Ultima. It's still a bit buggy and probably always will be, but it's a pretty solid game.


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