Huge. That's the word that comes to mind when I think of Ultima 6. This game was the one that opened the doors for all the brilliant RPG's of today. One thing, you do not need to have played the first 5 Ultimas to play this one. I'm sure it would maybe make to game richer, but I didn't and never noticed.
The first thing that you'll probably see and that is quite original in the game is the character creation. You don't generate numbers for certain attributes. Instead you have to answer certain questions by a gypsy that will define what kind of character you will get. Once the questions are answered you jump into the intro of the game and after that straight into combat! Even though the points do matter throughout the game, you still choose your path yourself so it you want to be a magic user, just get a spell book or if you want a conan-style fighter, you're free to use all kinds of weapons.
This was probably the most beautiful game of it's time with 256 color graphics and full, unique portraits for each and every person in the game, even the spell had brilliant effects. The game is played in a top-down isometric view that takes up the left half of the screen while the rest of the screen space is used for the inventory, the talking interface and the action buttons. The game is simply brilliant. You can interact with anything that is there; Move chairs around, play the musical instruments, ride in the boats and ships, and even ride on horses to get around faster. The attention to detail is simply amazing and all of this done with a simple move, get, use interface. In the game you can pretty much do whatever you want. You are not kept from doing anything or going anywhere and can be any kind of Avatar you choose to be.
All the NPC's in the game have their own lives and personalities which give the game a very rich atmosphere. They all go to sleep at night and go to work during the day. You talk to them by repeating certain words that appear highlighted as they speak or by stating certain set words like 'Name', 'Job' and 'Join'. Sometimes one NPC will give you a hint of what to say to another to keep the quests going. And talking about quests, damn there are many. In every town you'll get at least one mystery to solve or a guild to join, etc...
The world is absolutely massive. I've spent hours just walking around to try and find interesting and hidden spots (and there are loads!). Pretty much every mountain has an entrance to a dungeon or two which will get you loads of baddies to terminate and gold to pick up, not to mention all the interesting items (magical and normal) that you can find by going through them. There are also spots outside the dungeons where enemies will just appear so you never run out of action and items to pick up.
A quick mention of the music/sound in the game: I only had a PC speaker when I originally played the game, so the nice and soothing adlib sounds that sprung up when I loaded the game in dosbox came as quite a pleasant surprise. I haven't replayed the game long enough to hear all the songs in the game but so far there is quite a variety and I haven't gotten tired of one yet.
To sum it all up, this is one that can't be missed by any RPG fan. It is one of the riches RPG's even to this day and even the graphics have aged well. The manual is included in the download which you need to answer Lord British’s questions in the beginning (Copy Protection). Try and find the map of the world on the net - it will definitely help, and always write down the location of an interesting/necessary spot with a sextant or spell as there are so many you'll soon forget how to get there.
Note: map and manual are included with the game. You will need the manual to answer Lord British's questions at the beginning of the game. When answered correctly he will give you a key that opens the castle gates. Without it you cannot leave the castle.
Part of the Ultima Series
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