Hot on the heels of the launch of the new Ultima Forever Website, Bioware and Electronic Arts have made the PC version of Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar, available for free download (the original Apple II version was released in 1985). All you need to supply is DOSbox to be able to play it. Hopefully additional games in the Ultima series will follow (and more platforms!). Also hoped for is that this is just the beginning of a proper resurrection of the moribund Ultima franchise. Certainly Bioware and Electronic Arts have the necessary talents and resources to do so, and this is certainly a great start.
I loved Ultima II on the 8-bit machines, so this definitely thrills me to see Ultima IV available! I didn't like the "line of sight" view on Ultima III, but it looks like Ultima IV doesn't use that system. But even if it does, I'm willing to give it a shot!
Ultima II had an extremely simplistic combat system (which I actually liked for what it was). I'm curious if the combat system was changed for U4.
Yep, it has line-of-sight, but the combat is much improved. When you encounter enemies, you go into a tactical grid-based view for the duration of combat. This was also in Ultima III, but III was unfortunately missing the ability to run from battles..
Do give it a shot, Ultima III-VII are some of the best RPGs ever. [Ultima V is in my Top 3, alongside Morrowind and ...Mother 2 / Earthbound for SNES]
EDIT: Wait, what is this? What does BioWare have to do with Ultima..? Oh dear. Dragon Age II was about as anti-Ultima as a game can be..
You know, it galls me that I missed out on the Ultima series. I've never played any of them from start to finish! Of course, I've booted them up and played them all briefly, and it's obvious that Lord British put his heart and soul into these early Ultima games. It just so happens I had access to a boxed copy of Ultima IV recently and was just remarking on Twitter how fantastic the packaging, manuals, maps, and inclusions were (it had the metal ankh). I think it's probably safe to say that Garriott was perhaps a bit too indulgent, going so far to create his own runes and all, though. I can see why the hardcore Ultima fans treat him like a god, though--the man wasn't kidding around and took all that stuff 100% seriously. I guess it's really not a stretch to call him the J.R.R. Tolkien of CRPG developers; quirky, not always accessible, obsessed with seemingly trivial details of his productions, but nevertheless a genius.
To this day I still remeber (spoiler)!!!!!!
The final fight in II? up to that point you could see anything you attacked, but in this case to simulate the room crushing you down (tomb raider trap!) they just basicly made every square of the room a "thing" you had to attack before it crushed you. I played this on a freinds Dads $6000 XT and we where stuck for weeks at this spot.. we had no idea what was happening. We would wait for his dad to leave the PC alone and then hammer at it for a fw hours every night ...we only figured it out by pruer frustration, attacking everything we could and eventally something "died" and we figured it out so to speak... its been so long Im not even sure I remeber it right.. but it was awsome back then. And the whirl pool you avoid the whole game was a Secret... and the moongates.. and time...
Anke... I still have my plastic baggied lAkabeth someplace in my stuff and all my old cloth maps.. its so wierd to think I bought games in baggies, with a disc and some simple paper instructions. At one time i had all those maps on my bedroom wall (unforntatly... it faddes some a bit) all boxed in correct boxes now.
I think of it now with no CHEATS, no internet... all just plain old playing, try and try again.
For sure my second favorite set of RPG,s Sorry Wizardry is still #1 in my book... having that ninja you painfully protected for so many levels cuz if he was sneezed at he died... finally get to a level where he could "kick" 300 monsters dead!!!!
I think it's probably safe to say that Garriott was perhaps a bit too indulgent, going so far to create his own runes and all, though. I can see why the hardcore Ultima fans treat him like a god, though--the man wasn't kidding around and took all that stuff 100% seriously. I guess it's really not a stretch to call him the J.R.R. Tolkien of CRPG developers; quirky, not always accessible, obsessed with seemingly trivial details of his productions, but nevertheless a genius.
I didn't play Ultima III much, but it struck me as a bit too serious and idealistic, as if Garriot suddenly turned "artiste" on us. Ultima II was a straight-forward, light-hearted hack-and-slash. The vibe was more comical than anything. It was just a fun, almost arcade-like romp. The hype on Ultima III, on the other hand, was that it got all "spiritual" and heavy, which kind of turned me off as a kid.
Still, I want to play Ultima IV soon, after I catch up on my backlog of games. This talk about "Ultima" has got me thinking of seeking out one of Bill's faves, "Phantasie." I'm curious what they did with the Ultima engine, which to this day I still love. It's just fun to travel so fast across the landscape in Ultima, rather than the hour-long treks you have to go on in other CRPG's just to get to the tavern or something.
The xu4 Project is looking for beta testers for what is essentially Ultima IV (and it's engine) on iOS, and specifically the iPad: http://www.ultimaaiera.com/blog/xu4-needs-ipad-beta-testers/
Since, amazingly, it doesn't require a jailbroken iPad (it uses the TestFlight app), I signed up and got accepted. Here's a screenshot of Ultima IV on my iPad 2!:
Cool stuff, right?
As you can tell from the screenshots (same one, just showing different ways the screen is configured depending upon how you hold it), the interface is perfect. I'd love to see this interface applied to other classic CRPGs on the iPad 2 (and any other classic game that does not need real-time control).
This is strange. ultimaforever.com shows some bland hoster page, EA DMCAed many Ultima related projects recently, and Ultima IV is officially free to download since 1997. See http://www.thatfleminggent.com/ultima/u4download.html
I just started playing the Flash version of Ultima IV by Phi Psi Software which was taken down as well. http://www.phipsisoftware.com/ultima4/Ultima4.html
Thank you, EA.