User review spotlight: Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar (DOS)

Ultima Collection (Windows)

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MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.3
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  woods01 (154)
Written on  :  Mar 07, 2001
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  3.6 Stars3.6 Stars3.6 Stars3.6 Stars3.6 Stars

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Summary

8 games for the price of one

The Good

The Ultima series is one of the oldest, influential and popular RPG series on the computer, the only series can think of to compare it to is Wizardry. This bundles the first 8 Ultima games together. Going through these games after almost 20 years since it started will excite and dissapoint a player.

Ultima IV despite its age is a true classic. You really should play this game if you are an RPG player. Great story and truly innovative, but don't trust me just read the praise it gets in the Moby reviews. Ultima V is a solid if unexceptional game from the 80s, it doesn't quite have the kick of the previous game. Ultima VI which launched the VGA and soundcard era for the series, while it has an excellent story I find the interface, in particular the small action window to be a bit frustrating, but it is still worth playing. Part VII ironed out the flaws in the interface and became a modern classic, this set is worth getting for this game alone . Ultima VIII which once brought the super computers of its day to their knees is a bit controversal for some fans, a love it or hate it game, because it does not take place in Britannia and of the real time combat. I find its quite a good adventure and a nice change of setting.

The Bad

Ultimas 1-3 and Akalabeth, may have been great in their day but today they are nothing more than monty haul and kill the baddie CRPGs with ancient, practically black and white graphics and poor interfaces. Only diehard Apple II and Commodore 64 fans wanting to re-experience their youths will find them of interest.

This is not the ultimate Ultima collection. It is a shame that they did not include the two excellent Ultima Underworld games and the two often forgotten World of Ultima games. Those four games are much more playable to a modern player than the first 5 Ultimas.

The documentation stinks. The Ultima series is well known for being one the best games for including bonuses with its games, only Infocom was better in my opinion. The orginal games had cloth maps, some had metal coins or other trinkets and the manuals were often made to look like they were bound in leather and covered with runes for that old world look. This game puts all the documentation on the disk. It does come with the Ultima Atlas, which is a stapled booklet of small, black & white reprints of the orginal maps. Its okay to look at and compare the changes in the continents but is too small for practical game play.

Getting some of the games to run on a new computer will be hard for some people. I am fortunate in that I have an old Pentium 100 to play these on and had no problems.

The Bottom Line

So basically you get 2 classics, 3 good ones, and 3 aged throw aways. If you are an RPG fan there is no reason not to invest in the low price to get Ultima IV and VII. Old guard Ultima fans should get this just so they have CD-ROM backup of the old games since floppies go bad with time.