bring me to the main page   bring me to the reviews index

Ultima 4 – Quest of the Avatar logo  Zzap! Sizzler

Origin/Microprose, Amiga £29.99

I must say that I, Chuck Vomit, lord of the crocodiles and baron of bridges, find it hard to believe – but apparently you’re supposed to be capable of enlightenment. And I don’t just mean all that stuff about the birds and the bees, or a pint of Hemmeling, I mean the real thing – the Ultima biggy. What do you mean, you don’t know what I’m on about – I’m on about the Avatar, birdbrain.

Rockford inspecting Chuck Vomit's head: Here's that Avatar, iy! So what’s this Avatar lark about then? Well, apparently it’s a quest for a new standard and a new peaceful vision of light. Billygoats haven’t got it but trolls have, so why shouldn’t humans find it too? The land of Britannia has passed through three turbulent episodes of warfare and destruction – now is the time for peace.

If you’re expecting spectacular Amiga graphics, don’t. Apart from some pretty neat introductory illustrations they’re almost exactly like the 64 version (first released back in 1986). You move around on a full-screen map which shows enemies, cities, castles and towns. You can talk to people, make use of objects, mix the correct ingredients to cast magic spells, fight enemies, buy, haggle and sell.

Forests, mountains and plains are inhabited by some fairly nasty monsters: bats, dragons, gremlins, orcs, skeletons, zorns and orcs – oh yeah, and trolls. Some joke that! Real trolls would tear any puny adventurer, enlightened up to his armpits or not, covered in armour or billy-goat jelly (either will do) with their bare hands – with their bare thumbnails, even. These pathetic little ponces are definitely not the real object and I advise you to beat into a pulp any that you see. Grrr...

Ultima 4 – The quest of the Avatar The more monsters you belt, the greater your experience rating, but the more people you speak to the greater your chance of achieving the Avatar. The potential for conversation is definitely what makes this game so good. You can speak to almost anyone on an incredible list of subjects – it really feels like you’re having a chat because what Nigel the wizard, or a child playing in the street, mentions actually determines what you can talk about next. Not only that, you can learn about other people by speaking to their friends and use the information you’ve gained from earlier encounters when speaking to others. A few conversations and you fell you’re really getting somewhere. Unlike other role-playing games where you have to spend ages hacking and slaying to get your experience points you feel in the thick of things right from the start.

If you thought role-playing games were nothing but an excuse for a good fight and a load of plunder, think again. Ultima IV isn’t just brawny – it’s got a brain as well (a lot like me, really). And if that isn’t enough to tempt you, just think about the excellent presentation (two booklets, an ankh and a top-quality towel... er... I mean cloth map). Thought about it? Right – go out and buy it NOW!
(Reviewed by Chuck Vomit, fictional Gnome dreamed up by the Zzap crew)

Zzap! Christmas Special, Issue 44, December 1988, p.131