And so here I am, journeying again in the lands of Britannia, looking for this missing monarch who had this stupid idea of getting lost in the Underworld! Geez!
First and foresmot though: the manual! One one got to say that the Book of Lore is one hell of a manual, it’s a fun read, it’s well written and is again a knowledgeable ressources of the world or Britannia. It’s alerady better written than Ultima IV’s and I’d say it’s pretty much reaching the top notch quality that will remain right up till the end of the series.
The introduction was fun to watch especially considering my knowledge of Lazarus which kept the exact same theme. I also love the “view” at the down of the menu screen which shows the introduction done in-engine! I created a character for fun just in order to do another Virtue Question thingy, but I actually transfered my character from Ultima IV. This is a feature I’ve always enjoyed a lot and which I’m glad is kind of getting back in game like in Mass Effect. It also makes things a bit easier, since I’m starting with a Level 5 Avatar, which is quite a lot!
Now the game, boy it’s such a blast to play! I have to admit doing a couple of little mods: first I inverted the Greyson’s Tale and Village Tarantella tunes in the music patch (not having Greyson’s music in the towns feels wrong to me :P) and I applied a patch remplacing the Britannian runes for English runes. Yeah I know it’s not very hardcore but eck, I like having proper alphabet!
I must say I really love the graphics of the game though, they have this dark feel which fit well with the tone of the game, better animation and also gets more realistic (no more of these silly walls with letter to say what kind of shop you are in, but real signs!)
I’ve actually considered playing the FM-Towns version of Ultima IV for a while partly because of this: it used the Ultima V tileset for Ultima IV… but somehow it felt too weird to have Ultima V graphics with Ultima IV.
I’ve gotta to say that the addition of night and day is also wonderful because it basically just adds a lot in terme of atmosphere compared to previouses games. Sure days and night pass pretty fast… but it’s still a wonderful feeling.
One thing I must say though, is how streamlined Ultima V feels compared to Ultima IV. It has more depth, better dialogues (or should I say dialogues that feels like real dialogues), but in fact it has much smaller towns than Ultima IV had, and way less NPCs. (For instance Trinsic has a ridiculous total of THREE non-merchant NPCs). I don’t exactly consider that a flaw, but it does make the game easier in a way as finding clues about what to do is much faster than in Ultima IV. I mean I have something like two or three hours of gamplay, but I already have three Words of Power, joined the Resistance, learned were to get the Magic Carpet, and learned all I need to have to find the Sandalwood Box. So it basically feels like things are going lightning fast. Which is good as Ultima IV could feel awfuly slow at times, but comes as an interesting contrast with Ultima IV and does show the very first step of the Ultima series toward a more adventurish approach.
Also: combat is at long last fun to play. I must say the combat and Ultima III and IV were somewhat of a bore due to how limiting it was in terme of possible attacks and weapons. With all its additions, Ultima V feels more fun and more tactical and probably remains amongst the best the series has to offer. I also like finding loot directly on the combat screen even if it’s a bit silly to have chest on giant rats!
So this is it for now but I gotta to say it: Ultima V is still as great as it was 20 years ago. So I’ll be sure to share more of my adventures!