GET PLUG AND PLAY WINDOWS VERSION OF ULTIMA 6 (With 4 & 5) HERE: http://bit.ly/YWxewc
RATING 10 OUT OF 10
If I think about games which had an incredible level of immersion, Ultima 6 comes to mind. Ultima 6 stands as one of my favourite games, even competing with “The Elder Scrolls : Oblivion” from Bethesda Softworks. I remember the days playing Ultima 6 back in the early nineties (Original release was 1990). The game was so engrossing that I almost didn’t care about eating, drinking or sleeping. As the fictitious land of Britannia, felt like a virtual world of its own. That would keep on living and churning, even when I turned the computer off. I had heard of the Ultima series before and briefly played some of the previous version. However the earlier games did not sustain my attention to keep me playing. Yet it was Ultima 6 that lured me in and got me hooked.
In my mind, Ultima 6 is part of Video gaming history. And is still a relevant game in todays age for RPG players looking for an immersive experience.
WHAT MADE ULTIMA 6 SO SPECIAL AT THE TIME
Ultima 6 was the first Open world game I had played with an immense level of detail. I was in awe of the world which seemed to move and breath on its own accord. NPCs (Non-Player Characters) in the game followed their own daily routines around the clock. Which included waking up for work, working their job, going for lunch and retiring home for the night. Objects in the game world had a great level of interactivity. You could pick up a book and read the story within it. And if a NPC was annoying you, you could attack him kill him just for fun. Or wear an invisibility ring and break into his house and steal all his valuables. The level of flexibility in the Ultima 6 game world was very unique for its time.
Combined with its open world concept, it brought the Medieval Fantasy world to life. I had always been a fan of medieval fantasy. What has now become your standard world of Dragons, Gblins, Knights and Wizards. And before Ultima 6, very few video games were able to successfully bring that fantasy medieval world to life. For most people at the time, their way of bringing the Fantasy Medieval World was through reading books like the Lord of the Rings, Dragonlance or Belgeriad. And of course there was the original method of playing Dungeons and Dragons. Where you would gather a group of friends at your house (No kids, I’m not talking about MMORPG’s). And you have one Dungeon Master describe the action and challenges for your playesr. Along with rolling a dice to resolve conflicts in your imaginary world. Ultima 6 was the first time I felt that world I could only visualize before had truly come to life. Sure other games tried before, but it was the first that really succeeded in making me feel it was real.
WHAT MAKES ULTIMA 6 WORTH PLAYING TODAY?
Ultima 6 is still one of the most detailed open world games out there, despite being more than 20 years old. There are few open world games out in the market today and most of them are like games like Grand Theft Auto, Kingdoms of Amalur or Saints Row. Which still have quiet a few finite limitations in how you interact with the world. The only games that I feel rivals the level of detail of Ultima 6’s open world are from the Bethesda series. This includes games like : Morrowind, Oblivion, Skyrim and Fallout. So Ultima 6 is still a much more OPEN WORLD GAME compared to most of its modern counterparts.
Even for a game like Oblivion, there are some areas which Ultima 6 has more flexibility with its open world. Such as being able to move or carry almost any object in the game world. Granted that you can take the burden of the items carrying weight. Or other novelties, such as playing Musical instruments. While those given features may have little functional value, they added to the level of immersion of just being able to play them for the sake of doing it.
Ultima 6 is now economical and easy to obtain. In most cases you can download a copy for free or a very low price. So from a financial standpoint you have very little to lose. Unlike some of the modern games which can cost you $50 -$60 a game. And have as much freedom of an open world as a Prison inmate serving a murder sentence.
Ultima 6’s graphics might be a little dated, however they are still colorful and pleasant to look at. As personally I’m always in favour of artwork which uses bright and vibrant color. Which is why I love games like Oblivion and Kingdoms of Amalur. As I get depressed looking at the dark and gloomy theme which is so common in todays games. And Ultima 6 has a bright and vibrant artwork style. However, in some cases I do believe even 2D games can be better than 3D games. Which if you have seen my blog / video post, you will know why. But even though Ultima 6 is incredibly detailed, the 2D graphics helps you imagine the few areas which it doesn’t desribe in detail. Whereas the 3D interface it might be spelt out a little too much and ruin the experience.
The music by today standards is still beautifully composed and catchy. Graphics may have come a long way from the early nineties, but music hasn’t advanced that much. While the Music is MIDI generated, the selections of instruments still fit their purpose. Even after finishing Ultima 6 at a later point, I downloaded the Music Soundtrack and would listen to it on its own. (Yes I’m a nerd)
WHAT PLATFORM IS BEST TO PLAY ULTIMA 6
There are a number of Platforms to play Ultima 6 on these days. My original experience was playing it on a PC. So this still marks my preference as that was the original platform I am used to. But here are some different ways to play Ultima 6.
ULTIMA 6 REMAKE IN 3D – BY TEAM ARCHON
This is a fantastic free piece of work from Team Archon. And most likely the version modern gamers whom have never been exposed to 2D would prefer. The game uses the Dungeon Siege 2 engine and from there acts as its own stand-alone game. So it is required that you have a copy of Dungeon Siege 2 (Dungeon Siege 3 doesn’t count) to play this. Yet, Dungeon Siege 2 is also a platform that can be obtained relatively inexpensively. Dungeon Siege 2 was released in 2005, so the Ultima 6 Remake Project graphics are reflective of that era. So the texture and models are not completely up to todays standards, however it is still a big jump in the graphics from the original 1990’s Ultima 6.
The Ultima 6 Remake Project truly looks at the game from a fresh lens. Its great to see some level of interactivity you wouldn’t see in the original Ultima 6. Such as when you try on different armour, you get to see how it looks on your character. Which is part of the fun of RPGs is collecting and trying on different equipment.
There are also some side quest added to Ultima 6 Remake Project. And some of the old dynamics of the game are changed for the better. Such as only being able to teleport to spots in the game which you have previously visited.
And the development team at Team Archon was incredibly responsive. Initially I had some trouble in setting up the game. Which actually had nothing to do with their programming, but my individual setup on my computer. I did post a question on their forum asking for some assistance. And they did respond within the same day and were very involved and helpful.
The Ultima 6 Remake project can be a potentially be challenging to install if you are not tech savvy to a certain degree. Most of the setup work revolved around getting the Dungeon Siege 2 engine to works on my Windows 7 setup. So if you don’t have a comfort level of doing some initial trouble shooting, it might not be the best option for you. However, once I got the setup up and running there were no issues. But for the added value of bringing Ultima 6 into a 3D environment it can be a great option for some.
ULTIMA 6 – DOS / WINDOWS VERSION
This is the version which I would consider the “original’ and truest to the pure Ultima 6. The original game was released for the DOS operating system. And its not plug and play compatible with the recent versions of Windows such as Windows XP or Windows 7. However, there are some quick and easy work arounds for this.
The easiest way is to purchase a copy from www.gog.com. Which has a pre-configured version utilizing Dosbox. Dosbox is an Dos emulator for Windows, allowing you to use old Dos programs in a virtual environment. Yet the GOG version is virtually plug and play. Which you simply download and install using the setup wizard. The only catch is the GOG version you will have to pay for (Though for a reasonable fee). Although it is also bundled with Ultima 4 and 5, so you get some extra value.
Another way is to download the raw DOS version and get a copy a free copy of D-Fend Reloaded. D-Fend reloaded configures Dosbox, so you don’t have to tinker around with the settings. Or it allows you to use Dosbox in a graphical environment. Either way, its great to be familiar with D-fend reloaded, since its an option which you may use for many other retro games. Which don’t have an option for you to download from GOG.COM. And the best part is that it’s free.
ULTIMA 6 – EMULATOR VERSION
Ultima 6 was released on a number of other Platforms such as the SNES (Super Nintendo), Commodore 64 and Amiga version. So it’s possible that if you don’t have these consoles, you could play it using an PC or MAC Emulator. I can only comment on the SNES version, since I tried it using a SNES Emulator on my PC.
The SNES version was pretty disappointing, it is not the recommended version. On the good side the graphics were pretty similar to the PC. However, there were some times some short cuts were taken, such as the Intro scene graphics were simplified considerably.
Its obvious that the SNES version is simplified for kids. And allot of the interactivity of the open world is taken away as a result. However, even being simplified to this level it would still be considered more Open world that most modern games.
The good point is that its easy to get up and running. If you are familiar with using Emulators like ZSNES you’ll be up and running within seconds. All you have to do is download the ROM from a place like www.coolrom and your good to go. And if you play your emulator games on a controller like I do, its nice to have the controls on the on a simplified device.
However unless you do want the “coles notes” version of the game, this would not be the recommended version to play.
WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?
There are a number of options to play Ultima 6 from. And it is still one of the best open world games today, despite its date. Ultima 6 is a highly immersive game and one of a kind. With the numerous games released, many are quickly forgotton. Yet Ultima 6 is not one of those games. Standing out as a classic that has stood strong in the test of time.