Ultima Online: A Day In The Life of Viper

a game by Origin Systems
Platform: PC
Rating: 7/10


I have been waiting for a game like Ultima Online since 1983 when I was playing Ultima III on my Apple IIe. My wish has come true, and I am very satisfied with the results of this enormous undertaking which is a living, ever changing world with practically endless possibilities. Ultima Online is the only game that I have ever been able to overlook its technical difficulties (there are many) and still rank it up among my personal classics -- this game makes me want to leave work and stay up all night to play, even on a weeknight . Ultima Online sucked me in like no game ever has; and it will still be going strong on my computer months from now. I think it's the 2,000 other unpredictable human beings online with me that keep the game fresh, or is it the vast, seamless world where you live, or even the things you can do or become? Whatever it is for you, beware, if you don't like lots of sleepless nights then you need to steer clear of this game, because just 1 hour of "trying it out" could lead to many more.

My character Viper is a warrior primarily, with just enough Mage skills to heal myself and cast a few offensive spells just in case. My hometown is Yew, a quiet, secluded city north of Britain (the main town), and I have really grown to like Yew's personality; it gives me rest after a long day of fending off the dangers of the wild.

So I start the hike to Britain to see what the forge has for sale and maybe get into a little monster mashing when suddenly I hear an enchanting sound coming from the bushes and I (involuntarily) freeze in my tracks. Out of the bushes comes six or seven Rangers and a Mage (hence the paralyze spell). Not knowing their intentions I say "Hail", and pray they do not want me for supper. It turns out they think I am a PKer (player-killer) and thus spend the next 10 minutes arguing whether or not to kill me. Lucky for me I was able to convince them that I am good and they let me go on my way, I resolve never to take the road again and promptly head through the forest parallel to the road, sneaking the whole way.

When I approach the mountain pass that leads to Britain, I hear a loud rumbling, getting closer, and then CRASH --out from the bushes lumbers a huge 2-headed Ettin! Twice as tall and easily four times my size, the Ettin is certainly a formidable foe, especially with his huge war hammer ready to squash me with a single blow. I took off running, thinking "how am I going to down this?" while I lead the charging beast to the road where I hoped to find other adventurers to help me. Luckily, three armor-clad horsemen burst onto the scene and we fought valiantly and were able to take the beast down with only one casualty. After looting the Ettin and splitting the spoils I said my farewells and headed through the mountain pass to Britain where I sold some weapons and shopped around for a new tunic. It was there that I met up with Ragnarok, a Mage friend of mine, and we decided to head for Vesper (a town to the east of Britain) in search of magic regents and high adventure.

We headed out and everything was quiet until we hit the swamp, where we were ambushed by lizardmen. Ragnarok held back and healed me while I slashed my way through the toughened green flesh of the marauders. Then I hear a "Crackle CRASH!"' Ragnarok had cast a lightning bolt and took out the last straggler in one blast'together we are very strong, while alone either of us would have met our doom. We continue in our travels to Vesper and come to a dungeon entrance in the side of a mountain. Not being able to resist, we enter anxious to find magical treasures.

A sudden jet of fire billowing from the floor of the dungeon almost toasts me to a crisp (shouldn't stand over those) as we walk deeper into the labyrinth. Corpses of valiant warriors lie in heaps around us, and I think that there must have been a great battle here. We look for treasure but the bodies are clean, the treasure chests are empty as well -- did we get here too late? All was quiet until Ragnarok yells "Gazier! Run!" But it's too late -- as I turn, the vile gazier sparkles and glows and hits Ragnarok with a paralyze spell -- he is surely a dead man just like the rest unless I do something -- I resolve to attack the beast in hopes of distracting it from killing my friend when suddenly I am poisoned and weakened, and the Gazier bears down on me and moves in for the kill. Time to start a new character.

Ultima Online has kept me glued to my computer screen for the last month, an incredible accomplishment with all the other games out there trying to compete. There are problems with the game, mostly due to server crashes, lag, and all the slow modems and phone lines out there, but the gameplay and interaction are so good that these things are easily overlooked while I wait for them to fix all the technical problems. In the meantime, happy sleepless nights!

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