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Ultima VII: The Black Gate (DOS)

Published by
Developed by
Released
Platform
80
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
4.1
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Colin Rowsell (45)
Written on  :  May 15, 2002

6 out of 7 people found this review helpful

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Summary

Yes, it's flawed. But so was Hamlet...

The Good

Ultima VII is a game that transcends roleplaying mechanics. If you play it for long enough, it very nearly transcends the computer itself...

Along with the vast size, endless characters, deep intrigue, and tough quests, all of which are present in many games, Ultima VII adds a freedom that sets it apart, even from others in the series. Living in Britannia, just about anything is possible, including some extremely lateral-minded (not to mention antisocial) activities. Want to rob a bank? Other games might throw up arbitrary obstacles. Here, the vault is yours, if you're tough enough to get there. Of course, there are always the consequences of obnoxious behaviour...

If you want to, you can live as a cook, as a farmer, a woodcutter, you can become a trader, pirate, or a priest. The people of Britannia live out detailed lives that don't just function as "onstage extras". The main game itself is an absorbing, difficult set of adventures that will take even a rabid gamer several months to complete.

The Bad

The (many) famed problems of Ultima VII are almost all flaws in the game engine. Britannia crashes at random and infuriating intervals. Food and money distribution among your characters is maddening. Keys and keyholes become a ten minute guessing contest. And the game is so wide open that it's actually possible to completely disrupt it by finding oblique approaches that circumvent key plot points. A patch to fix these things would improve the game even further.

The Bottom Line

Until the advent of online gaming, Ultima VII may be the most open minded game ever made. If you have the time to enjoy it, and can get past the mechanical problems, it's a uniquely absorbing and satisfying experience.