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SummaryLess bugs, more straitjacket
The GoodSerpent Isle is a large, well-plotted sequel that removes most of the infuriating bugs from Ultima VII: The Black Gate. The world of the isle is richly textured, with extensive dialogue and a series of quests to navigate. More so than The Black Gate, Serpent Isle is the natural culmination of the Ultima series style.
The BadFor all the density and complex interaction, Serpent Isle is a far more linear game than its predecessor. Though the game world is larger, you are shown small chunks of it at a time, with specific quests to complete before any further progress is possible. In structuring the game this way, Origin have removed the most attractive element of The Black Gate - unlimited freedom. A large world seems a bit wasted if you're only going on a guided package tour of it: for most of Serpent Isle the player is kept firmly "on quest".
In terms of game mechanics, Serpent Isle trades annoying bugs for verbal diarrhoea. Yes, atmospheric dialogue is great, but some of the game characters appear to have three-act plays in their heads. And a fair amount of the game depends on trade of information, so there's no real way to skip it.