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Ultima VI logo

Nach der ultimativ langen Wartezeit von fast zwei Jahren geht Richard Garriotts „Opus Ultimativus" nun auch auf dem Amiga weiter. Und endlich bekommt die Rollenspieler-Gilde, was sie verdient – den unumstrittenen Höhepunkt des Genres!

Ultima VI Wenn ein neuer Teil der Ultima-Saga ansteht, ist das ja eigentlich immer ein Grund, ein Fass aufzumachen; nicht umsonst gilt die Serie als das Nonplusultra im Reich der Krieger und Magier. Trotzdem, Ultima VI ist etwas Besonderes innerhalb des Besonderen: Inhaltlich markiert es das Ende des sogenannten zweiten Zyklus, äußerlich den Beginn einer neuen Grafik-Epoche...

Großmeister Garriott (alias Lord British) hat sich endgültig von der Ära der Tile-Grafik verabschiedet, Britannia erstrahlt nunmehr in farbenfrohen und detailliert gezeichneten Landschaften. Und weil der fleißige Weltenschmied schon mal beim Überarbeiten war, hat er auch gleich noch die Darstellungsweise vereinheitlicht – ob Häuser, Dungeons oder freie Wildbahn, alles ist jetzt aus einer leicht schrägen Vogelperspektive zu sehen. Untermalt wird die Grafik-Orgie von einem sehr atmosphärischen, auf Mittelalter getrimmten Soundtrack. Die Steuerung wurde ebenfalls gründlich renoviert und nahezu volständig auf Mausbetrieb umgestellt. Bloß beim Speichern und Reden mit anderen Personen muß man noch aufs Keyboard zurückgreifen, für alle anderen Betätigungen (Schauen, Nehmen, Kämpfen, Schlafen...) klickt man einfach das entsprechende Icon am unteren Screenrand an.

Wie gewohnt kann es die Story an Spannung aufnehmen, es warten Monate voller Überraschungen und Entdeckerfreuden sowie ein Finale mit Paukenschlag. Daher wollen wir hier auch nicht allzuviel verraten (wäre echt ein verbrechen!), gut informierte Abenteuer wissen dank der PC-Version ja ohnehin schon Bescheid. Für die anderen, glücklicheren, nur soviel: Das Hauptproblem besteht diesmal darin, daß die mysteriösen Gargoyles die heiligen Schreine der Tugenden besetzt halten. Warum das so ist, weiß kein Mensch, ja, über diese merkwürdigen Wesen ist ganz allgemein so gut wie nichts bekannt. Keine Sorge, am Ende seid Ihr schlauer. Aber bis dahin warten noch ungezählte Mini-Missionen, die der Party von einzelnen Landbewohnern angetragen werden. Die Handlungsfreiheit ist dabei maximal, denn die Kleinquests können ganz nach Lust und Laune absolviert werden.

Amiga Joker Hit Dazu braucht man natürlich eine Abenteuergruppe, die Charaktererstellung findet erneut im Zigeunerwohnwagen statt. Anfangs befehligt man vier Helden, weitere vier Freiplätze sind für Neuzugänge vorgesehen. Direkt vom Spieler zu steuern ist dabei nur der Avatar, die anderen laufen computergesteuert mit. Deshalb sind sie aber noch lange keine „Mitläufer", im Gegenteil, die Kerle erzählen Witze, mischen sich ungefragt bei Gesprächen ein und entwickeln überhaupt ein bemerkenswertes Eigenleben. Das gilt uneingeschränkt auch für all die übrigen Figuren, die den Screen verunsichern: Rund 200 NPCs arbeiten, feiern, streiten und erzählen dummes Zeug – sie leben einfach! Damit nicht genug der Spieltiefe, es liegen (fast) mehr verwendbare Gegenstände herum, als auf der Inventurliste eines großen Kaufhauses zu finden sind...

Ultima VI Die Moongates funktionieren prima wie eh und je, das Magiesystem wurde gegenüber den Vorgängern drastisch vereinfacht. So muß man seine Sprüchlein jetzt nicht mehr umständlich zusammen mischen, sondern braucht bloß noch den gewünschten Spell im (erst zu findenden) Zauberbuch anzuklicken. Ebenso einfach funktioniert der Umgang mit dem Inventory oder das Kämpfen und Reden, ohne daß deswegen auch nur ein Milligramm an Komplexität verloren ginge. Beim (wie üblich weniger wichtigen) Hauen und Morden kann man verschiedene Kampfmodi von „Berserk" bis „Retreat" einstellen; bei Begegnungen der etwas kommunikativeren Art läßt sich nun ein Help-Modus benutzen, wodurch wichtige, also nachhakenswerte Begriffe im Redeschwall des Gegenübers optisch hervorgehoben werden. Kurz und sehr gut: Lord British hat erwartungsgemäß ein höchst ausgetüfteltes Rollenspiel auf die Beine gestellt, bliebe bloß zu klären wie ausgetüftelt speziell die Amiga-Konvertierung ausgefallen ist.

Nun, die hübsch animierte Grafik, der tolle Sound und die geniale Steuerung unterscheiden sich lediglich in Nuancen von der VGA-Fassung - alles vom Feinsten, sogar an Portrait-Bildchen für weibliche Recken wurde diesmal gedacht. Der Preis, den man dafür zahlen muß, ist die nicht erhebliche Installationsdauer. Das gilt sowohl für den Disk – (vier leere Scheiben bereithalten!) als auch für den sehr zu empfehlenden Festplattenbetrieb. Außerdem benötigt man mindestens 1MB Arbeitsspeicher, dabei müssen aber sämtliche Zweitlaufwerke abgehängt werden. Wesentlich angenehmer wird das Handling mit 2MB und zusätzlicher Floppy, eine Turbokarte wäre sicher auch nicht verkehrt. Unsere Handhabungsnote bezieht sich daher salomonisch auf eine „mittlere" Konfiguration (Harddisk oder 2MB Speicher plus Zweitläufer), bei einer Minimalausstattung darf man wegen der Wechselei gut und gerne 20 bis 30 Prozent abziehen.

Aber wer Ultima kennt und liebt, weiß daß er an diesem Spiel sowieso nicht vorbeikommt, selbst wenn er dafür erst mal seine „Freundin" aufrüsten muß. Mit Englsichkenntnissen sollte man ebenfalls gut gerüstet sein, denn von einer geplanten deutschen Version war zwar schon gerüchteweise zu hören, aber nichts Genaues weiß man nicht. Zudem müßte man darauf ja noch länger warten, und gewartet haben wir auf das „britische" Prachtstück nun wirklich lange genug! (mm)

Amiga Joker, April 1992, p.p.??

Der Amiga Joker meint:
"Ultima VI ist auch am Amiga ein Meilenstein der Softwaregeschichte!"

amiga joker
Ultima VI
Grafik: 87%
Sound: 84%
Handhabung: 85%
Spielidee: 92%
Dauerspaß: 95%
Preis/Leistung: 88%

Red. Urteil: 93%
Für Fortgeschrittene
Preis: ca 99,- dm
Hersteller: Origin
Genre: Abenteuer

Spezialität: In der Packung ist das übliche: Stoff-Karte, ein „magischer" Stein und eine englische Anleitung. Läuft auch am A500 Plus.



Ultima VI logo

What a whopper! The latest episode in the Ultimate saga finally hits the Amiga.

Publisher: Mindscape
Price: £30.99
Author: Richard Garriott & Warren Spector (design), Abersoft Ltd (programming)
Release: Out now

R Ultima VI ole playing alert! Role playing alert! You are now entering a non-joystick zone. Arcade players may as well flick on a couple of pages to the Apidya review or something right now instead.
Right, that just leaves the role playing fans, and the open-minded non-fans who are wiling to give this a chance. To be honest, non-role playing experts may find that this is not the ideal starting point - Eye of the Beholder or similar may be more up their street – but for you fans of the genre a real treat is in store. This game will teach you the real meaning of role-playing. RPG-aphobes have been warned.

Sequels are funny things. For a start they have got to avoid alienating the audience which the series has already built up, but they have also got to sidestep any accusations of ‘seen it all before’. It is a neat trick if you can do it, and happily the Ultima series has not put a foot wrong yet. Always getting bigger, gaining greater depth, adding smarter presentation and better plotting, the games have grown with the technology. Inevitably, there has always been a bit of drag – the games’ visual side never quite making the grade (betraying the fact that conversions from the original PC versions usually takes around two years) – but that aside, they have been consistently the slickest, most interesting RPGs around. And so we have now got Ultima VI, proving that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

For the unitiated (please bear with me, cynics of the world), the Ultimate saga places the player in the guise of the Avatar (the human embodiment of all life’s virtues) – a man (or woman) transported to the lands of Britannia (via a moongate – more about them in later) in times of trouble. The adventures have always been tricky, but this sixth journey to the alternate world is fraught with extreme danger. Walking into a red moongate during a particularly vicious storm (a bad sign – the moongate is usually ble), the player reappears on the other side surround by gargoyles. Rescued at the last moment by old friends of Britannia (Lolo, Shamino and Dupre), the quarter make their way through another moongate to re-appear in the court of Lord British – ruler of Britannia.

It transpires that the underworld of Britannia has been cracked open, releasing the gargoyles, whose mission seems to be inexorably linked with the player’s role as Avatar. And so the mystery begins. Many lands must be travelled, towns visited, dungeons, explored, and seas crossed before the Avatar can discover the key to the mystery and put an end to the threat of the malevolent gargoyles.

DID THE EARTH MOVE FOR YOU?
Ultima VI What this boils down to is the player controlling his main character plus up to seven others (the aforementioned Lolo, Dupre and Shamino, plus any other recruits picked up along the way) in a plan-view quest through a huge (and boy, am I talking big here) world. Everything in the world is structured pretty much as you would expect: water flows into seas, cave entrances are hidden in mountainsides, roads connect the towns, villages and cities. Inhabitants walk around, go to work (there are inns, fletchers, museums, armouries, the list goes on) and can be communicated with.

The conversation system is not going to win any awards for contribution to the development of artificial intelligence, but compared to pretty much every other role playing game on the market, it is a masterpiece. All characters will respond to basic questions about name and job, and some will be willing to explain a lot more - try probing them further about key words which crop up in their conversation (which, with the help mode on, are highlighted).

In addition to all this keyboard jiggery-pokery, control is also achieved with the help of a whole range of icons to be manhandled with the mouse. (It is possible to use the keyboard to access these if you wish, but this is the ‘90s, y’know?). In fact the whole user-interface of Ultima VI is about as slick as you could wish for. To examine an object, simply click on the ‘look’ icon, then click on the object. Similarly, unlocking and opening a door takes but four clicks of the mouse button – there is no mucking about with full sentence input here.

The actual play area is limited to about half the screen, with icons and your text input area taking up the rest of the space. A line-of-sight system is used, which means that anything behind a wall or other barrier is blacked out – this is not particularly pretty, but works to neat effect in gameplay terms. It makes the risk of going around a corner just that bit more exciting – you never know what will be waiting in the shadows to beat your characters to a pulp.

USING THE SOLDIERING IRON
Ultima VI Which brings me to the combat system. Anyone who is familiar with the ‘chess-with-spells’ combat system found in games such as Chaos and Laser Squad will feel right at home with Ultima, this latest of which uses a combat system which has not really changed since the very first Ultimas, a testament to its perfect simplicity.

All characters and monsters take turns to either move, use short and long range weapons, or cast spells. The characters in the player’s team (other than the Avatar) can either be controlled manually, or set onto remote – where they react according to a pre-programmed general order (such as berserk, flank, retreat etc). These orders can be changed mid-battle – and having the computer help out certainly makes things easier – but personally, I prefer having total control over my team. Remember though, you are going to have to control the Avatar yourself whatever you do, and this might prove, for beginners at least, to be quite enough to be getting on with, thank you very much.

As your team wins more battles they gain experience and, in time honoured RPG fashion, become an altogether more together bunch of dudes. Victory brings more victory, but do not get complacent – the monsters encountered soon adjust accordingly, and the player is faced with some pretty powerful new foes. Thankfully the stakes are higher, and defeat of bigger and meaner monsters usually yields better treasures – more gold, magic weapons and armour, the usual sort of stuff.

Ultima VI As I said earlier, the world of Britannia is frighteningly detailed. There is an awful lot to see and do, and a seemingly infinite number of little places to explore. As you make your way around it is advisable to talk to just about everyone. Information gleaned from computer characters is the way to progress in Ultima VI. One clue tends to lead to another, but just in case one problem seems too complex, there will always be several other missions on the boil that you can go away and concentrate on for a time instead. Getting hold of a skiff or full-blown ship means that even more mysterious lands open up to the player. Thankfully a map of the world is provided with the game – it shows the location of quite a few towns, cities and islands, but it is by no means definitive, which is neat. It makes the discovery of each new place that bit more satisfying.

Of course, there is an easier way getting round Britannia – via the moongates. Essentially, these things are teleports which appear and disappear intermittently in specific locations. Simply walk into one gate, and you will comes out of one of the others. The presence of each doorway is governed (as the name suggests) by the cycle of Britannia’s twin moons. Learning mastery of the moongates early in the game is definitely a good idea, unless re-treading the same old roads again and again appeals to you.

And that is by no means all. There is still much to the game I have not mentioned – the shrines, the mantras, the plots within plots, the gargoyle island; the list of oddities, subtleties and surprises just goes on. Oh yes, there is the pretty neat spell system too – another finely tuned aspect of the gameplay. But enough. It is about time I got down to the nitty gritty and let you know just how good Ultima VI really is.

AROUND THE WORLD IN A DAY
Well, it is a bit obvious, isn’t it? I would not have been wittering for this long if I was not pretty damn enthusiastic about the whole thing. The basic game, then, is great – what problems there are come from specific flaws in this slightly disappointing Amiga conversion. The speed is probably the main problem. Moving around the world of Britannia just feels too cumbersome. Faster scrolling would have been wonderful. Graphically, we are obviously in hardened role-playing territory – there are no fancy 3D routines here and no need for them, and anyway, plan-views never allow too much scope for gorgeous visuals. The music rises to the occasion well enough, with several not-unpleasant (and context-sensitive) tunes – all very baroque.

And that is pretty much it really. Apart from the niggles about speed (oh, and the fact that playing it from floppies is a complete non-starter – there is an unbelievable amount of disk-swapping necessary) there is not really anything to complain about. Like I said earlier, I cannot see many people buying this as their first role-playing featst, but for those who know what they like this is just perfect. It is certainly the best Ultima game yet, and as such I reckon it is also the best Amiga roleplaying game available. And don’t forget, with a game of this type and epic scale you are offered far more potential hours of game time for your pound than you will find just about anywhere else. What more could you ask for?
MARK RAMSHAW

Amiga Power, Issue 13, May 1992, p.p.60-62

A BRITISH MAN’S HOME
P ictured below is the first scene of the game. The Avatar, Dupre, Lolo and Shamino have all just been transported into the court of Lord British himself. Unfortunately a trio of minor gargoyles also made it through the moongate. Luckily, they aren’t of the winged variety, so knocking the stuffing out of them should not be too much trouble.Well, that is the theory anyway. Don’t forget to check the dead bodies afterwards, for weapons and stuff.

Ultima VI

a. This dude here is the Avatar. As you can see, he was in the thick of a bloody battle.
b. These defeated fiery red creatures are lesser gargoyles, the bad guys of the game.
c. The guy on the throne is Lord British himself, ruler of all Britannia. I don’t know, he does not make a very good job of it, does he?
d. The blue robed bloke is Nystal – wizard to Lord British.
e. The sun or moon positions are displayed here, unless your party of characters is roaming around underground.
f. This is the text input area. All messages and commands are shown here. By clicking on the icons, command words appear. Sentences can therefore be constructed simply by using the mouse.

1. Attack using any weapons currently held.
2. Cast any readies spel – the block is currently black because no spells have been readied.
3. Talk to a nearby character (including characters in the party).
4. Look at an object or person.
5. Get an object – this must be within arms’ reach.
6. Drop an object. There must be sufficient space to drop it.
7. Move an item to an adjacent location.
8. Use an item – this basically will operate an object held or nearby which has a function. Objects which are usable include crystal balls, doors, and ladders.
9. Rest – lets the party set up camp for R&R, but only if they are in the wilderness, and there are no nasties around.
10. Begin/break off combat – will instruct any pre-programmed members of the party to engage or disengage the enemy. The orders are given via the icons at the top-right of the screen.

FACING UP TO THE FACTS
Or how to become a hero AND look the part at the same time
T
he character creation system of Ultima VI may lack the user-definability of Shadowlands, but the end result is far more attractive. Having selected one of the faces shown below, it is off to the gypsy caravan to answer some deeply psychological questions – resulting in a unique character.
Ultima VI



"Simply a role player’s dream"


Upper UPPERS With more depth than any other Amiga game around, Ultima VI offers an entire world of places, people, spells, treasures and battles. A role player’s dream, with the best in exploration, combat, and character interaction crammed into one neat package. It is not without humour or mindless violence either.
Downer DOWNERS Although a vast improvement on the earlier Ultima games, the graphics are still fairly rudimentary. Speed is also a problem – it takes too long to move around. And you are going to need a one meg hard drive machine, too (don’t even try playing from floppies).

THE BOTTOM LINE
Still a hardcore role-playing game, Ultima VI is nevertheless as good as the genre gets, it offers an incredible amount of playing time, a better-than-average plot, and well-structured gameplay and gameworld. Months of fun – if you ever liked any role-playing game, you would be well advised to shell out for this one.
90

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