Nostalgia Train: Ultima VII

Review: Ultima VII

Let's get something out of the way first: Now wait a moment May, you might rightfully say, this is an old game, sure it's a classic, but surely this isn't relevant in this day and age?  On the contrary, I would say that it has a penultimate importance.  So here's a lengthy preamble, to get the reason for this review off my chest.  Actual review follows in the next two pages.  Scroll down and hit on to the next page if you just want to read the review.

Still here?  Alright then.  Well, the reason I'm writing this now is simple: to each gamer, to each games writer, there is that game that is "the" game.  The game that made them really say "yeah, I really like gaming".  The game that reminds them that games as a medium are important to you personally.  The game that reminds that that gaming is worth defending.

To me, Ultima VII is that game.  It's not perfect.  It has it's flaws, and we're going to talk about them in this review.  But this is the game that I have sunk a non-trivial percentage of my life into.  I have played this game regularly, literally since its release in 1992, when I got a copy of the first installment, The Black Gate, bundled with software with the Sound Blaster 32 software CD our family got with that sound card.

So by all means, do take my words with a grain of salt, because I have an obvious bias and emotional attachment here.  This is my love letter, to gaming, to games development, and to the industry and more importantly the hobby that I love.  We've had an almost soul-crushing last couple of weeks in gaming.  A deeply depressing one.  And to that I say: bother that nonsense.  You people trying to make me feel bad about playing things I enjoy playing, you don't deserve to be in this industry.  There are a lot of super-talented people who make very great games, classics of their medium or simple popcorn bits of entertainment both, and some people will enjoy them and others won't.  It's okay to disagree.

So this is me, writing about the game I enjoy most, to remind myself, as much as anyone else, that I love this hobby, I love Richard Garriott and his team for making a great roleplaying game, and I love the many other developers who put their very livelihoods, and increasingly, sanity and emotional well-being, on the line, so that this ailing old curmudgeon of a Scot can derive some interactive enjoyment out of her spreadsheet machine.

To the developers and publishers of those games, current games, future games: thank you, from the bottom of this weathered and scarred heart, for deciding to take time and risks with your life just to entertain me.

To the gamers who have been constantly belittled by the many talking heads in this whole shitstorm: keep your chin up.  You are, for the most part, entirely good and reasonable people.  Don't let anyone talk down on what you enjoy.  You have the power.  You pay for the games.  You provide the ad revenue.  You provide the subscription revenue.  You provide the kickstarter funds.  You are powerful, reasonable people who want to enjoy your hobby.  Don't let anyone take that hobby from you.

Right, we're kind of getting a soapbox article and review in one here, aren't we?  Onto the actual review for us!  Let us Journey Onward...

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Highland Arrow
Your independent Canadian source for straight and to the point video games journalism.
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2013-09-15
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