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Ultima Underworld starts at the point where you enter Britannia, summoned by a ghost of Garamon who was once a powerful wizard. He tells you that Britannia is once again in danger after which you see a girl being captured by a troll and Garamon's evil brother disappearing before your eyes. Later in the intro you find out that the girl is a daughter of Baron Almric and you appeared in her sleeping chamber. This makes you the guiltily person in baron's eyes and you are thrown into the Stygian Abyss with only one goal - to find baron's daughter and to prove you are innocent.
This is a dungeon-crawl game, although not a typical one for its genre. What makes it different from other games of it's time is the full 3D environment with the possibility to jump, look up and down and even fly with spells. Everything happens in real time and the monsters, people and spells are very nicely animated.
Before you can start playing the game, you need to create your player. There are many character-classes to choose from. Each one has different starting skills that you may choose from. Based on the class you choose, you will get different primary attributes. However, every time you create your player, these attributes are random to a certain point.
When the player is complete, you start off with nothing but a torch in your possession. You will have to find all the equipment such as weapons and armor along the way. Since possessions are scarce at the beginning, you often have to fight for items, as they are usually well guarded.
While traveling from upper floors to lower ones, you will have to accomplish various quests and side-quests. As you talk to the Abyss's inhabitants you will be discovering more and more of the game's story. Defeating enemies brings you experience points, and as you gain a level, you get small amount of "learn" points. You can spend these points at the Shrine of Virtue, which you will have to find first in order to raise your efficiency with some of the fighting skills. There are many skills in the game, but fortunately you get more points per level when reaching higher ones so you can raise some skills up to their highest point.
As the game's areas are relatively large, there is a mapping option which remembers all the places you visited so far. You can also attach your notes to any point on the map to serve as a reminder of what can be found on each location. The levels of the game contain many secret areas, and therefore it's necessary to map out the whole level before proceeding to the next one. This will require some patience at later levels as they will become more complex and larger the deeper you descend. It's worth it, though, as you never know where you'll find the items you will certainly require throughout the game.
The music in the game won't receive an award from me, but it's not bad either. The sounds, though, are nothing worth speaking of. Most of them are usual sounds of spells being cast or weapons hitting walls or enemies. :)
Controlling the game is not easy at beginning. You can get best results by commanding it with a mouse. Keyboard only offers some helpful keys and otherwise isn't a recommended control device for this game. However, once you get used to it, it's not that difficult at all.
After getting used to the game, you'll realize that it won't be easy quitting, since it becomes more and more engaging the deeper you descend. As you progress, you will find better weapons, armors, magical rings and other various items, but most importantly, you will become more proficient in fighting and casting spells. You will constantly be curious about what new items and monsters are waiting for you on the next level. This game won't let you leave that easily, and if you don't believe, just try it out! :)
Part of the Ultima Series