Been playing U9 most of this holiday weekend. Here’s my impressions:
The story. Obviously well thought out, what I’ve seen so far makes it by far the best of the Ultimas in that regard.
One interesting interpretation more than one person has made (including myself) is that in large part it’s a subtle (and sometimes very unsubtle) commentary on the human behavior on display in UO. Well, that, and a subtext is a Britannia in which Lord British is never around. Gee, where have we seen THAT before.
So far I’ve only been through LB’s castle, Britain, and Despise. Despise is really very well done, evoking the best of the Ultima Underworld series (for you new-timers they were the first true-3D engine games – predating Quake). Linear, so it’s difficult to get lost, but at the same time not insultingly easy either.
The 3D engine is a joke. If Origin had just swallowed its pride and licensed the Q2 or Unreal engines, this would be a FAR better game. The environments are stunning at times, but that doesn’t make up for an interface you feel you are swimming through sludge to get to anywhere in.
The desultory, “you can run it but only sort of, and only if you have an older card” D3D support is atrocious. (Especially for TNT2 and GeForce users, who apparently have to wait for a patch just to play the damned thing.) I don’t know if Origin was paid off by 3DFX or if they’re just fucking lazy programmers, but if they wanted to make a 3DFX only game, it should goddamned well say so on the box.
And to top it all off, the engine itself is buggy. Items levitate in midair for no apparent reason OFTEN. Just recently I fell through the world and had to load up an earlier save. (Oh and the save game interface is horrible as well… no quicksaves, and no easy list of savegames; you have to SLOWLY page through a book to access them.)
The Avatar. Where did they get this guy? He looks like the guy who plays the dumb bartender on Cheers and sounds like Sylvester Stallone. “Take-a me to-a youse infernal mastahs!”