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Return to Ultima
The first game in the now legendary Ultima series might look a bit crude nowadays, but it still stands as a true innovator in the RPG market. This first sequel is certainly larger in scope than its predecessor but is for many the weakest entry in the franchise, although it is still well worth a look. The gameplay hasn't evolved all that much, but there are some interesting tweaks to go along with the epic narrative and which combine to make a solid game. The complex story here involves a tale of revenge for your actions in the first game, and which sees a vengeful apprentice traveling to Earth in order to get some payback. This finds her causing a nuclear war with the intention of wiping you from history. The basic gameplay is very similar to other such games, and sees you exploring a massive world and various time zones, while picking up quests, slaying monsters and seeking out important items. One of the additions here is the inclusion of separate maps for towns and the main world, but in all honesty, this is mostly more of the same. However, that still makes for a pretty good old-school RPG and if you do enjoy the likes of Bard's Tale, there's much to enjoy here. The basic concept is probably the best part, with some interesting ideas floating around here, but the story itself is pretty lackluster, with not much actually happening. Exploration and combat are as enjoyable as ever, while the time traveling aspect is well integrated and adds much to the appeal. The visuals are obviously crude, but it's the sense of adventure that you come for, and in this regard, the game just about delivers.
Poor graphically, but epic RPG
For its period the game was certainly daring. Ultima managed to create an immersive RPG, with interesting quests, cool fights in its own non D and D environment, and above all, it was suggestive of what was to come and what the genre was to become. But the graphics, the controls and the sparse indices of what to do next were certainly challenging, maybe less so in the past than today. The problem is that there is little animation in the game. Your character and party move from square to square and you might have selected the wrong weapon and you wouldn't know it. Also, you might go past some essential clues in finishing the game without knowing how crucial they are, and on a return trip they might no longer be there. Thus, play with a walkthrough and try to keep an eye on the Rogue like map. The experience is sure worth the time investment, especially for top down RPG fans, but you have to be prepared when facing this beast. It's not easy on newcomers, and not at all on modern day RPG players who expect a pointer to direct their every move. Still, for the early Ultima Series, the game is not half bad and can actually be pursued to completion with a bit if patience and a good walkthrough.