The first one I ever played, and the one I remember most fondly
For starters, I liked the plot a great deal. The premise of "you messed this up, now you get to fix it" was one I had not seen before in a computer game, and not one I could easily provide another title for. The graphics were pretty decent for the time, and I liked the fact that you could pick your Avatar's face. I also noticed that it didn't matter whether or not you played as a man or woman, you'd have people hitting on you no matter what! At first, I was very annoyed with the fact that you seemed to be so poor for the first part of the game, and that you had to be so moral--you couldn't open other's possessions, take their gold, etc.--but I had no idea what Ultima or the Avatar was all about, so I didn't understand why it wasn't following the standard adventure game/RPG rule of "Take everything that's not nailed down!" After a while, though, since there are so many things that can be sold in this game--boots, armor, weapons--and the fact that you don't have to buy reagents because you can find them all somewhere in the game made the task of raising money so much easier! I stopped resenting the "enforced morality", and even enjoyed being able to act like a moral person and have my efforts rewarded. I also ended up feeling very sorry for the gargoyles. There are also some in-game cheats, but I took very little advantage of them--this game was a joy to play without them. I also liked the fact that everybody could feed themselves--as long as you had food. It seemed really idiotic to have people that couldn't feed themselves in Ultima 7, and it was even more annoying hearing them complain all the time. I loved the idea of being able to solo characters--you didn't have to have them leave, you could just leave them somewhere while your Avatar went off and did something dangerous. Being both mouse-driven and text-driven gave this Ultima more latitude in terms of what you asked people, but being simple and basic when needing to perform actions.
Being new to the Ultima series, I didn't understand the rudeness of some of the characters. I remember specifically the leader in Yew. When I asked her for the word I needed for the shrine, her response was really rude--something along the lines of "You should remember this, you're the Avatar. What the heck is wrong with you?" and when she finally gave it to me, it seemed really begrudgingly. There were also some characters, like Julia, who got rude if you asked her to leave the party--so I stopped asking her to join! The interface was a bit hard to master, but once I got it, it was fine.
The Bottom Line
Somewhere between the older Ultimas and the newer ones, this game is both mouse-driven and text-driven. This one is not to be missed, for it has a complex plot and plenty of roaming area. I think this game showed off the Avatar's morality quite well. This game, which introduced me to the series, is the reason why I went back and played--or tried to play--some of the others. One of these days I'll get through the series, and this game is the reason why I'll be doing it!