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OP 2/24/10 12:09:36 AM#1
Ultima Online is the most complex fantasy role-playing game to date, with thousands of players simultaneously online in a persistent, dynamic gaming world. Unfortunately, at least for now, Ultima Online is more ambitious than it is successful. Design and technical issues will limit Ultima Online's appeal to gamers who possess a tremendous amount of patience and available time to invest in a game that is still in the process of being developed.
Set in Britannia, the same world featured in Ultimas IV through VII, Ultima Online takes place shortly after the events that transpired in the very first Ultima. The evil, power-mad mage Mondain has been defeated and his Gem of Immortality has been shattered, creating countless parallel worlds. The events that subsequently transpired in Ultimas II through VII occurred in one world created by the shattered gem, while each Ultima Online server contains a separate parallel world. It's an intriguing premise, as it allows Origin to pull events, items, and figures from the Ultima games into Ultima Online. But, unfortunately, with the exception of one scheduled event at the premature end of Ultima Online's beta test, this ability hasn't been effectively utilized.
Like prior Ultima games, Ultima Online uses an isometric, third-person-perspective view of the gaming world. A transparent "sighting bubble" allows you to keep an eye on objects that otherwise might be obscured behind walls. The graphics and character animations are detailed and very well done. The extensive musical score largely consists of high-quality General MIDI versions of music from earlier Ultima games. The mouse and hot-key driven interface is intuitive and customizable.
The world of Britannia really comes to life in Ultima Online. Scissors can be used to cut cloth that can be used to tailor a new shirt; an axe can be used chop up wood that can be whittled into arrow shafts; a fearsome wandering chicken will yield feathers that can be combined with wooden shafts to make arrows. If you have the inclination, you can really live out the life of a butcher, a baker, or a candlestick maker. Of course, this "interaction" merely consists of clicking one object onto another, but the levels of detail really help to create an immersive environment.