Time to begin the last post for the last game!
Before heading off to Terfin to confront the Guardian, I had a brief chat with my Companions in castle British. This part of the game was notably more lame than I'd expected--a few made dubious claims about their past help to me (Mariah didn't do jack fighting Batlin...), but most just told me to keep in mind whatever virtue they represent.
From there, I hit Terfin. I was hoping to avoid a cheesy conversation with Raven, but it turns out her telling you about a secret cave causes a giant rock to move out from in front of said cave. From there it was into the dungeon! And what an amazingly longer-than-expected dungeon it was. This time I had to find a big stack of power cubes, as well as kill off a lot of monsters. The gargoyles towards the beginning were the hardest because they did a huge amount of damage with each hit. Later on, it was just endless Wyrmguard that get sliced down in one or two hits from my lightning sword.
I encountered three other people. One was a girl who was searching for treasure and asking for help finding the key to the treasure room. Of course, she never goes anywhere or does anything with the key. Another was an insane guy in blue who thinks I caused the Guardian to turn away from him. He tried to punch me but died rapidly. The third was a woman who was poisoned by some gargoyles in a torture chamber, and demands that I kill her; I politely refuse and tell her "just go cast cure." Well, it didn't give me the option of doing that, but that's what I imagined!
There weren't that many exciting sights in this place. There was a room full of aquariums that was kind of cool, and some severed heads, but for the most part it felt like a barracks, with weapons around and books you can't read. Eventually, I finally made it to the Guardian's entirely black chamber. I put the sigils around on some highly convenient pedestals, causing him to pop through the nearby black gate. Here he is! Boy, he might actually be a little shorter than me. And he does look like a muppet. The Guardian was much more threatening in Ultima VII, somehow, particularly because he puts his dukes up like a boxer when you attack him. Yeesh. In the end, I create a "barrier of life" and then cast Armageddon, destroying the Guardian and myself, and making an ankh appear in the sky. The end!
Well, that's it for 20 years or so worth of gaming. Ultima IX was not as terrible as I remember it, but it was just as disappointing in terms of what I would have expected from an epic conclusion to the series. The failure to emphasize the cool characters the series had developed is a prime reason for complaint, as well as the poor manner in which the various set pieces, mostly designed for an unrelated plot, were all tied together haphazardly with the modified game. I tend to think the complaint voiced in comments about the bad dialog is related to this. I understand the difficulty here--it is very easy to fall into a trap where every conversation is "insider" stuff, that only the guys who've played all the games will get. Ultima IX went the opposite way and we we end up with "What are gargoyles?" and other idiocy from the Avatar.
Still, it's clear that they had a pretty cool world-building tool to play with in creating the Ultima IX we have now. My thinking is that if they'd stopped development on the engine and spent, say, 6 mos or a year creating a world and filling it with people and stories, we would have had a much better game. However, it's unlikely this could have happened without budget being slashed or people yet again being pulled away to work on the internet version of Ultima.
Note my weird phrasing--I've discovered that if I say the actual name of that not-off-line version of the game, I get piles of stupid spam comments. So I'll resist. I particpated in both the pre-alpha and beta test of that game, and got the "charter edition," and you can even find Ophidian Dragon mentioned in the original version of the hint book! But I really didn't like the game at all, or any MMORPGs for that matter, so I've ignored it here.
Did Ultima IX invite you to kill children? A missing feature!
One fun thing to waste more blogging time might be to reflect back on all the games, and see if I can decide my final "ranking" of the various games. I am pretty sure the main canon would fall in the order of (worst to best) 2-1-9-8-3-4-5-6-7, but working the spin offs in would be hard. Except for Drash, we all know where it ends up!
Well, thanks for reading. Maybe someday I will have UW2 screenshots posted! The person I thought was interested in the giant screenshot collection was actually interested in pirated games, so no, I won't be providing those. I own all the games I played, save Drash and Akalabeth; if you really want to grab them illegally, Google makes it easy enough.
If you haven't gotten enough Ultima over the past year, someone else is running a similar blog, in a somewhat less purist manner (I think it's called "My Ultima Journey"). And if you like video game blogs generally, check out Blogging Zelda and Blogging Final Fantasy and other similar blogs; I don't read them (not being into those games or, frankly, any non-Ultima RPG) but it's cool to have started something of a blogging trend. Actually, probably someone did this before me, so I'll rephrase and say it's cool to think I began a trend I may not have actually begun!
If you just dig me, I'm probably going to begin some other totally unrelated blog project soon. My CageBlog was cool, and I learned rapidly how to (not) write a topical blog; I wish I had not finished it so soon. Blogging Ultima has been a big improvement over that project. I'm glad it took a year to complete; I almost wish I had dragged out the earlier games a bit longer, in fact! Hopefully the next one will be even better. It's been a blast especially due to the quality & quantity of comments I get, so thanks to everyone who contributed in that way!
I also encourage you to start your own blog on whatever peculiar topic interests you, since there's always a few other people out there. And if you're a nerd like me, nothing attracts dates and money like a giant video game blog. Just kidding. But it's fun anyway.
Go in Virtue!