Ultima II: The Revenge of the Enchantress (1982)

Info

Genre Period Developer Publisher Theme
cRPG, Open-world, Dungeon-crawling Vintage (Pre-1990) Richard Garriott a.k.a Lord British Sierra Online (originally),

Origin Systems (subsequently),

EA (presently)

Medieval, Fantasy, Magic, Sci-fi, Space

Ultima II is the sequel of the much celebrated cult classic Ultima. In the early 80s, games of the Ultima series were revolutionary and this one was no exception. It had built up on the success of its predecessor by introducing further complicated features into the gameplay; perhaps too complicated as Ultima II is unanimously considered the most difficult title of the whole series. The world of Ultima II is harsh and unforgiving! The setting is Earth in various different time periods. You play the role of the hero summoned by Lord British to vanquish Minax, evil consort and protege of Mondain who was the main antagonist in Ultima. Minax has come of age and has become more powerful than ever Mondain was, and is bent on destroying Earth, the planet which was the birth place of the hero who killed Mondain, so that the eventuality of Mondain’s death is prevented from transpiring. To this end she has opened several gateways through time-space and has spread her villainy inside men from various era of the Earth in order to ensure a nuclear holocaust in 2111 AD. You must kill Minax who is residing presently in the origin of time – age of legends, in order to stop this from happening. Thus in the course of your journey you will go back and forth in time through various time doors, looking for clues on how to kill Minax. Throughout the over-world you will kill monsters. There is dungeon-crawling and space travel to other planets. Raising your stats is not an easy task, gold is precious, and you are in constant need of food in order to survive. If you want a hard challenge and wish to absorb the history of Ultima first-hand, you have to play this game.

Game Assessment

Complexity Matrix 

Complexity Parameters Values (0, 0.5, 1)
Control Scheme 0.5: Moderately complex
Complexity 1: Complex (iventory)
Story 1: There is a story
Lore 1: Rich (World of Ultima)
Immersion 0.5: Although role-play but premature
Difficulty 1.0: High difficulty
Learning Curve 1.0: Steep without help or guidance
Total Score 5.5/7: Heavyweight game 

Satisfaction Matrix

Needs Satisfaction Score (0-3)
Analytical 3: Well met
Creative 0: Not met
Mastery 2: Moderately met
Destructive 0: Not met
Entertainment 1: Slightly met
Pace 0: Not met
Horror 0: Not met
Total Score 6/21: Moderate Game

Game Review

TL;DR Not the best of Ultima games. People say its the worst, but I have not yet played all of them, so can’t say that. But this game is quite bad. Without cheating and guides, it is just plain self-abuse. So buy only if necessary to experience whole of Ultima series for historic reasons.

Pros

  • Set in the world of Ultima so has its unique charm

Cons

  • Pathetic gameplay features
    • No automap for dungeons
    • Stats increase is random and unpredictable
    • Experience points and leveling only influences frequency of monsters
    • Character balancing is terrible
  • Grinding, grinding, grinding
  • Bad save system
  • Nothing is intuitive

Game completed with save-game editor cheat.

Purpose – Study

Gameplay – It is a NIGHTMARE. What was Garriott thinking?? Mindless grinding. Half of the features in the game are optional show pieces. Raising your stats is out of your control, unpredictable, random, and extremely costly. There is no modicum of balance. The clues to the story are buried under tons and tons of shit. You have to talk with 200 NPCs to get one bit of clue, that also in incomprehensible riddle form. It is practically impossible to play this game without a guide or cheats. I have no idea how they used to manage playing this back in the day.

Graphics – CGA pixel graphics. Has not aged well.

Performance – Peanut.

Entertainment – There is of course a story,  connected to the rich lore of Ultima series. Also it has some humor of the suggestive type and some weird charm of its own… and also the hype surrounding it.. the cult status. Yet, it is not as good as its predecessor. .

Plot (if applicable) – Clear plot, lore, world of its own.

Replay value – None. Unless you want to try out different levels of difficulty by creating different type of characters.

Immersion – Not quite as immersive as its predecessor.

Overall a bit of pain really, that is best avoided. Can only be tolerated for the sake of experiencing history and evolution of Ultima

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Author: Rex Aurelius

Cogito ergo sum.

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