Dino's Guide to Ultima VII - The Black Gate

Contents

Introduction

Ultima 7 is deemed by many to be the best game in the entire series. The world presented in The Black Gate is extremely realistic:

Many modern games still cannot live up to this huge amount of detail coming from a game that was released in 1992.

Press

These are some opinions about Ultima 7 that appeared on gaming sites and the like.

Gamespot: The Ultima Legacy (Internet Archive) speaks of Ultima 7: "Chirping birds, rainstorms, a richer color palette, and much more detail delivered a Britannia unlike any other. A fully mouse-driven interface replaced the keyboard-heavy gameplay of Ultimas past."

"While larger in scale and more than a little different after 200 years, Britannia remained the same as Ultima fans remembered it ... almost. Ultima VII contained a much darker mood than previous games. Some towns like Skara Brae, once the peaceful home of the Rangers, lay in ruins. But this was just a small sign of terrors to come, as the Guardian grew angrier with the Avatar's meddling. Ultima VII contained more murder, mystery, and intrigue than its predecessors. At the same time, it delivered a more vulnerable and believable social framework."

MobyGames' description of Ultima 7: "You are the Avatar, returning to Britannia after 200 years of absence. Strange ritual murders are committed in the land while an organization known as The Fellowship is gathering a huge following. And there is this being known as The Guardian whose mockery follows you on your travels. Your old companions will join you on your quest through Britannia as you slowly discover the secret behind the Fellowship and the Guardian."

@Bhaal_Spawn's Ultima VII: The Black Gate review describes her personal experience with Ultima 7: "It was the NPCs that made the world of Ultima VII come alive. Each of them had a job they trudged off to at certain times of the day. They each had a place to sleep, somewhere to eat and people to meet. Several times I struggled to find a particular person I needed to speak to – potentially a negative point in any other game – only to find that they enjoyed a walk by the shrine at noon, or were having an affair with another NPC and sleep in the wrong bed. The same can also be said of the animals of the world, who can be both inquisitive forest-dwellers as well as reclusively delicious."

There is also a preview of Ultima 7: The Black Gate in Issue 87 of Computer Gaming World magazine that also features some early development screenshots. The review is on pages 40, 41, 43 and 47.

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Public Opinions

Withstand the Fury Dragon's opinion (30th June 2004):
Ultima VII in many respects set the bar (and set it at an extraordinary height) for both the Ultima series of games, and for RPGs in general.

If you think about it, there are few (if any) games released before Ultima VII, and precious few released after it, that match it for world interactivity and plot depth. Ultima VIII certainly didn't match it. Ultima IX most certainly did not. Even more modern games, like Dungeon Siege and Neverwinter Nights do not really hold a candle to Ultima VII for interactivity and NPC scheduling. For us who would craft remakes and fan-fic modules for the various Ultima games, this is important to consider and aspire to.

In terms of story, Ultima VII (along with Serpent Isle) was in a way the culmination of the Ultima series. It wrapped up many old plot threads, especially if you installed Forge of Virtue. By comparison, all Ultima VIII and IX managed to do was add a whole host of new questions, leaving all but the most basic aspects of Ultima history totally unaddressed.

Ultima VII gave us a world that really could be believed, that was really...as close to real as could be. For us who are modders and remakers of Ultima, the bar is still set so incredibly high, as it has been since 1992 when this fantastic game was released.
© by Daniel D'Agostino 2002-2019
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