Ultima VIII: The Black Gate

Legendary in its scope, Ultima VIII cuts no corners with its sizeable world.

The Ultima games form one of the most legendary role-playing series in all of computer entertainment history, and have turned their creator, Richard Garriott, into one of the richest men in the industry and a minor celebrity to boot.

9It’s fair enough, since Ultima VII shows exactly why the series has earned so much critical acclaim. Absolutely enormous, to the point that it takes months of play to finish the game, with complex, absorbing and involving multiple sub-plots, lively characters and storylines. The game was in fact so huge that it actually shipped in two parts. With so much content and gameplay, it’s clear that Garriott’s commitment to creating a complete fantasy world has been realized here.

You once more take on the role of the Avatar, a hero from our world who is called to Ultima’s Brittania in times of crisis, and, accompanied by his traditional team of friends, must travel to previously unexplored lands in his quest to defeat the evil Guardian.

The environment itself is incredibly versatile, allowing players to interact with practically everything visible on the screen. Secret lairs and levers added to the fun. While other Ultimas did something similar, this was the first to make the graphics top notch and full screen, better immersing you in the experience. The mouse-driven interface made the game a lot more user-friendly than previous iterations, and the top-down perspective engine delivered some of the most detailed visuals you could hope for at the time.

As an RPG in the traditional mold, there’s very little to criticize about Ultima VIII, save for the sheer size of its fantasy world working almost against it. It takes a great deal of dedication to see this game through, but on another level you respect it more because of this challenge. And while it did not set the world alight technologically, there are few games that can match its sheer volume of gameplay.

System Requirements: 80386SX 25 MHz, 2 MB RAM, DOS 4.0

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