latest in the series, Ultima IV, is really a
very complex program indeed, with vast acres of countryside
to explore and numerous playing options. Unfortunately,
it costs about forty quid. Now, however the French company
Infogrames has set up a British subsidiary and is offering
a similar product at a vastly reduced price.
isn't as complex as Ultima IV, but it's still
quite an impressive attempt. You can either define your
own team by building up their characters and saving
them on disk, or else you can load an old team or use
one created for you by the computer. A team numbers
four characters, to each of whom you must assign varying
decrees of strength, intelligence, wisdom, constitution
and dexterity. You also have to define their appearance,
but I wasn't able to see what effect this had on the
characteristics include sex, name, colour (for the display
or the team-members on screen) and occupation. There
are also five different races to choose from -- Dwarf,
Elf, Orc, Hobbit and Human.
you've got your team members sorted out, you move to
the main Map display, which shows forests, water, mountains,
and so on as rather crude character-block graphics.
Pressing N, S, E, and W moves the display about the
single central figure that represents the location of
your team. At any time you may be attacked by monsters
of many different varieties and, if this happens, the
display changes to a close-up of the action, showing
your different team members rather crudely depicted
on-screen, with the relevant monsters hovering around
the place and occasionally diving in to attack one of
your luckless companions.
you may come across either a Chateau (yes, this is a
French game) or a Village. Positioning your team-character
on top of the symbol and then pressing C or V respectively,
takes you into the location and again changes the display
to show your four team-members on the spot and the various
basic aim of the game is to explore the Chateaux and
discover its secrets. In doing so you can get hold of
treasure which you sell in between times in the villages.
This enables you to buy goods and food in particular,
as you need a lot of this to stay alive and on your
best combat form.
has created something of a sensation, mainly (I
think) because it's French and one of the first big
French hits to sell over here (apart from Get Dexter
-- which is soon to be converted to the Commodore
by the programmers of Fairlight -- on the Amstrad).
It has some nice features, including music while you
play and animated team-members who flicker across the
screen when trying to open doors or take objects. There
are also twenty-nine different commands, ranging from
LOOK to HYPNOTIZE. The Wiz did a lot of looking but
never managed to hypnotize anyone and even, on one occasion,
lost his life trying to do so.
the nice features, however, the game presents a rather
hammy image on-screen. The graphics are somewhat crude,
the objectives not desperately interesting, and the
whole game concept rather more ambitious than effective.
Nevertheless, there's no denying that role-playing and
character creation games like this one do have a strong
appeal. Once you've gone to all that trouble to define
a character and then order him (or her) through the
most dangerous situations, you do become quite attached
to it -- so when Doobri the Dwarf (or whoever) finally
bites the dust there is just the hint of a tear, in
the corner of the eye . . .
. . Okay, so there's nothing of the sort, but the point
is that there IS something slightly sentimental and
involving about this sort of game. It's what gives them
their appeal -- but don't expect real state-of-the-art
graphics and ultra-complex gameplay, 'cos you won't