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Ultima VII: The Black Gate
Ultima VII Black Gate box.jpg
Developer(s) Origin Systems
Publisher(s) Origin Systems
Designer(s) Richard Garriott
Composer(s) Dana Karl Glover
Engine Ultima VII Engine
Platform(s) DOS and others through Exult
Release date(s) 16 April 1992
Genre(s) RPG
Mode(s) Single Player
Rating(s) ESRB: T (13+)
USK: 12+
Media 5.25" or 3.5" floppies; later releases on CD-ROM
Input methods Keyboard and Mouse

Ultima VII is the seventh installment of the Ultima series of computer role-playing games.

The game was released in two parts, Ultima VII: The Black Gate (1992), and Ultima VII, Part Two: Serpent Isle (1993). Aside from the direct continuation of the plot and using essentially the same engine, the two parts are independent of one another. Each has a respective expansion packUltima VII: Forge of Virtue, and Ultima VII, Part Two: Silver Seed. Since the mid-1990s, all releases of the game have included both parts and both of the expansion packs.

The Black Gate and Serpent Isle were both critically and commercially successful, being widely lauded as a high point in the series and as two of the best isometric RPGs ever created. In an interview with GameSpot, Richard Garriott stated that Ultima VII "was the most masterfully executed of the Ultima series." [1] He has also often stated that the game was, along with Ultima IV, his own favorite part overall.[2]

Contents

Gameplay

Game system

The character paper dolls and inventory management in Serpent Isle. All containers – in this case, character backpacks and a drawer in the room - can be opened and items can be moved or equipped by dragging and dropping. (Exult screenshot)

Ultima VII introduced major changes in the Ultima series. The most important change is that, as far as the player is concerned, the world is no longer tile- and grid-based; tiles are still used internally (in a largely improved way where the tiles themselves are smaller and frequently grouped), but they no longer affect character and monster movement or the item placement the same way. [3] The maps are also more visibly multi-layered, and objects and things can be stacked on top of each other. This can also affect movement, and be part of puzzles; some places are inaccessible unless the player stacks items to form stairs.

The game is the first in the series that is entirely mouse-driven, with optional keyboard hotkeys for some common actions. This is in contrast to earlier parts that were entirely keyboard-driven, and to Ultima VI which supplemented keyboard commands with on-screen command icons. [4] While in Ultima VI, the player has to specifically use a "move" command to move an item from place to place, or "drop" to drop it on the ground, in Ultima VII, items are simply dragged and dropped in their desired locations. While the game could be played entirely with a keyboard, doing so is very difficult, and in-game characters would recommend the player use a mouse.

Ultima VII introduces "gumps", on-screen representations of containers, later also used in Ultima VIII and IX. For example, clicking on a drawer or backpack will show the contents of the container on screen, allowing the items within arranged freely with the mouse. Gumps are also used for books, scrolls, the spellbook, the status display, maps, and character equipment management; double-clicking on the Avatar opens his or her inventory, after which the inventories of other party characters can be opened by double-clicking them in turn. In Ultima VII Part Two: Serpent Isle, the inventory view uses a paper doll concept: equipping items will change the character inventory display to show the worn or held items in place. [5]

Another major change is that the game is now completely real-time, and only pauses when the inventory, the menu, or a dialogue is open, significantly affecting combat. [6] The combat system was changed accordingly: every party character is controlled by artificial intelligence (AI), and the desired behavior can be chosen for each character (for example, stronger characters can be ordered to attack the big monsters, while weakened characters can be ordered to flee), and there is also the option to choose manual control for the Avatar. Even when the combat is real-time and AI-controlled, using items is still possible; for example, the game pauses while the player picks and uses the item from the backpack. The AI is not perfect, but it saves the player the need to micromanage up to eight different characters in battle.

Dialogue in Ultima VII. (Exult screenshot)

Ultima VII: The Black Gate is the first game in the mainline Ultima series to use dialogue trees. The first trilogy only allowed simple interaction while the second trilogy used a keyword-based dialogue. Ultima VII retains the old keywords themselves, but uses a dialogue tree where dialogue options are picked with a mouse rather than entered on keyboard; previously, the players had to learn a keyword from other dialogues, which allowed the player, if so desired, to find out the keyword from other sources (such as walkthroughs). Now, the keywords only appear when they are actually learned beforehand in the game due to the plot. (For example, "thief caught" dialogue option won't actually appear until a thief is actually caught.) The game also features a lot more dialogue than the previous parts; most of the characters have extensive dialogues.

Game world

The gameworld of both games is renowned for its interactivity: virtually everything not nailed to the ground can be moved, taken, or interacted with in some fashion. It is possible, for instance, to bake bread, to forge weapons, to milk cows, to play musical instruments, and even to change a baby's swaddling. The Avatar and his companions will complain of hunger pains and severe thirst, and will even die if these matters are not attended to eventually. If they come across a disgusting or gruesome scene, they may groan and vomit; strong alcoholic beverages can also induce vomiting.

Both parts of Ultima VII allow free exploration of the game world, featuring a main plot and several other major subquests and tasks for the player to complete. Ultima VII: The Black Gate is a relatively open-ended game where following the main plot is less integral to the play, while Ultima VII Part Two: Serpent Isle is stricter when it comes to the plot, is more quest-oriented and only becomes open-ended toward the end of the game. The Black Gate is highly nonlinear; although there is a linear storyline, this is countered by the ability to explore the map in any order when coupled with the many sub-quests, including one that parodies Star Trek: the Next Generation[7]

Ultima VII features less emphasis on behaving 'virtuously' than other installments in the Ultima series. The Avatar can steal and murder to his or her heart's content, without making the game impossible to finish. However, the game simulated a society that sticks to some of the virtues: the NPCs — either the party members or the people of Britannia — react to killings of innocents and stealing whenever they became aware of it; party members may leave the group if they witness too much bloodshed and larceny and will refuse to join the party until the player redeems his- or herself. Also, in The Black Gate, the Guardian sometimes mocks the player when he commits a criminal act.

In Ultima VII Part Two: Serpent Isle, however, not even the companions take issue with theft or murder - the only punishment for such behavior is if characters outside the party witness it. As the world of Serpent Isle does not emphasize the virtues the way Britannia does, guards will sometimes ask for bribes from the Avatar if the player is caught stealing or murdering; bribing the guards was last possible in the game Ultima III.

The Black Gate features a deed system, where the Avatar must purchase and carry a title to any horse-and-carriage or ship that he or she wishes to board. The Serpent Isle does not have this deed system; instead ships, barges, and the Serpent Gates are all triggered by the plot.

Part One: The Black Gate

Ultima VII: The Black Gate (1992) is the first part of the game.

Plot

The game begins with what appears to be the game introduction on the Avatar's own computer screen. Suddenly, the screen is filled with static, and a red creature who calls himself The Guardian proclaims:

Avatar! Know that Britannia has entered into a new age of enlightenment! Know that the time has finally come for the one true Lord of Britannia to take His place at the head of His people! Under my guidance, Britannia will flourish. And all the people shall rejoice and pay homage to their new... Guardian! Know that you, too, shall kneel before me, Avatar. You, too, shall soon acknowledge my authority - for I shall be your companion... your provider... and your master!

The Orb of the Moons glows, and the Avatar finds that a red moongate has appeared behind the house. The Avatar thus returns to Britannia through the moongate, and arrives in Trinsic, where he[8] meets Iolo. Iolo tells him that two centuries have passed since he left. The whole town is shocked due to a ritualistic murder that occurred the preceding night - the body of the blacksmith Christopher was found in the stable. Finnigan, Mayor of Trinsic, asks the Avatar to investigate the incident.

In Trinsic, the Avatar gets to meet several members of a new religious organization called the Fellowship. Eventually, in Britain, he meets Batlin, one of the founders of the Fellowship. He also meets Lord British, who urges the Avatar to join the Fellowship, which, according to him, has done a lot of good things. It also turns out most of the mages of the realm have gone completely insane without any good explanation, and their magic doesn't work as it should.

Most of the game is composed of the Avatar's investigation of the Fellowship and the Trinsic murders. During the game, the Avatar finds more and more clues that implicate the Fellowship in shady dealings; more murders appear on the way, and the Avatar himself goes undercover by entering the Fellowship. His quest takes him to most of the cities and towns of Britannia, including Minoc, a destroyed Skara Brae run by a liche, Yew, Moonglow and Bucaneer's Den.

The Avatar eventually learns of an astronomical alignment of importance that is supposed to happen very soon, and about the three evil Generators that the Guardian has created, which have been causing most of the problems of the land. After destroying them, he and his companions follow several leads to the Isle of Avatar, where members of the Fellowship are waiting. The Fellowship has fashioned a black moongate out of blackrock on this island to allow the Guardian to enter Britannia when the astronomical alignment happens.

The Avatar confronts the Fellowship members and defeats them. As the astronomical alignment begins and the Guardian starts to loom behind the moongate, the Avatar destroys the gate just in time, preventing the Guardian from entering Britannia. As the moongates had been rendered useless by the destruction of one of the generators, the Avatar has to remain in Britannia, with no means to return to Earth.

Development

Elements of Ultima VII are inspired by game creator Origin Systems' conflicts with competitor (and later owner) Electronic Arts. Origin Systems' corporate slogan was 'We Create Worlds', while the main antagonist of the story - The Guardian - is presented as a 'Destroyer of Worlds'. The three evil 'Generators' created by The Guardian in the game took the physical shapes of the contemporary Electronic Arts Logo: a cube, a sphere, and a tetrahedron. Elizabeth and Abraham, two apparently benevolent characters who later turn out to be murderers, have the initials "E" and "A".[9]

The Black Gate was released in English, German, French and Spanish.

Reception

The first release of the game pre-dates the ESRB, and as such, was not rated by them. The game credits do include the warning "Voluntarily rated MP-13 (For Mature Players)". The game credits have been made to look as movie-like as possible, with all of the standard disclaimers and elements found in movie end credits. The credits, notoriously, also included the mention that a soundtrack CD is available from Origin, while it actually wasn't until 1993 (as Origin Soundtrack Series volume 2[10]); Ultima VII Part 2: Serpent Isle credits actually said "Soundtrack CD NOT available from Origin, so don't ask!"

Ultima VII: The Black Gate and Forge of Virtue were reviewed in 1993 in Dragon #191 by Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk Lesser in "The Role of Computers" column. The reviewers gave the game 4 out of 5 stars.[11]

When it was later released on CD as the Complete Ultima VII it was rated T for Teen by the ESRB for "Animated Blood and Gore, Animated Violence".

Forge of Virtue expansion

Box cover for Ultima VII: Forge of Virtue expansion, depicting The Black Sword

Forge of Virtue was an expansion pack that adds a quest to Ultima VII in which the Avatar must pass a series of tests to revalidate himself in the three principles of Truth, Love, and Courage, and destroy the last remnants of Exodus.

With the expansion, an earthquake takes place at the beginning of the game. After speaking to Lord British about the tremors, the player will be given free use of a ship called The Golden Ankh, and can visit the Isle of Fire to begin the expansion subquests. The Isle of Fire was previously the site of Castle Exodus in Ultima III, and reappears only during this game.

The main plot of the subquests involves destroying the Dark Core, which contains the last remnants of Exodus. In order to do so, the Avatar must obtain three talismans of Truth, Love and Courage, by passing their respective tests. [7] The concave and convex lenses from Ultima VI are also required to complete the quest.

The player is rewarded with a powerful weapon, The Black Sword, during the test of Courage. The Avatar also gains maximum strength, intelligence, and dexterity in the course of the tests, and after completing the quest, Lord British grants the player double strength on top of that. The Golden Ankh contains many extra supplies and the Avatar can use it for the rest of the game, making it unnecessary to purchase deeds from shipwrights.

In later releases of Ultima VII, this add-on was always included.

Part Two: Serpent Isle

Ultima VII Part Two: Serpent Isle
Ultima VII Serpent Isle box.jpg
Developer(s) Origin Systems
Publisher(s) Origin Systems
Designer(s) Warren Spector, Richard Garriott
Engine Ultima VII Engine
Platform(s) DOS and others through Exult
Release date(s) 1993
Genre(s) RPG
Mode(s) Single Player
Rating(s) ESRB: T (13+)
USK: 12+
Media 5.25" and 3.5" floppies; later releases on CD-ROM
Input methods Keyboard and Mouse

Ultima VII Part Two: Serpent Isle was released in 1993. While the Avatar destroys the Black Moongate that the Guardian was coming through, Batlin flees to Serpent Isle. [12] The Warriors of Destiny pursue the rogue fanatic and find a strange land that has many very different customs than Britannia: a large, icy island, only lately recolonized by men, with many remains of an ancient culture where serpents played a central role.

This is the first game in the series to take place outside Britannia as it has been known since Ultima III. It is also more linear than the earlier parts — unlike the earlier games where the order in which quests were completed was of little concern, the new approach makes it possible to give the game a more carefully plotted storyline, while at the same time somewhat limiting the player's choice. [13] Additionally there are few optional sub-quests; every objective somehow ties into the main quest.

Serpent Isle is the same location as the Lands of Danger and Despair, originally featured in Ultima I. As the character of Shamino was a lord here in Ultima I, more of his backstory is presented, and part of the game involves visiting his old castle.

Since most of the game's code was recycled from The Black Gate, it was decided not to call it Ultima VIII; Richard Garriott had stated in interviews around 1988 that no two Ultimas shared the same source code, unlike the then-competing The Bard's Tale series, and he may have felt bound by this statement.

The Silver Seed expansion

The Silver Seed expansion adds the Silver Seed story arc to the game, in which the party visits a subterranean keep in the ancient civilization of Serpent Isle (centuries in the past, during the war between the two sects of Ophidians). The Avatar is given an amulet by the Xenkan Monks when he or she first visits Monk Isle (either by death or by physically going there), and after using this amulet at one of the Serpent Gates, the subquest begins.

Powerful magic items, including a keyring, a ring of unlimited reagents, and an enchanted belt can be found in this area and in nearby dungeons. In later releases of the game, the expansion pack was included, and both games and expansions were released as The Complete Ultima VII.

The Silver Seed expansion was not properly finished due to a rushed release by Electronic Arts; the story told in the expansion does not properly conclude, nor does it seem to 'connect' with the larger plot of Serpent Isle outside of a few incidental 'framing' elements.

Versions and releases

The various parts of Ultima VII have been published in at least the following forms[14]:

  • Ultima VII: The Black Gate (1992) The original release, available on 5.25" and 3.5" floppies.
  • Ultima VII: Forge of Virtue (1992) The original release, available on 5.25" and 3.5" floppies.
  • Ultima VII Part Two: Serpent Isle (1993) The original release, available on 5.25" and 3.5" floppies.
  • Ultima VII Part Two: The Silver Seed (1993) The original release, available on 5.25" and 3.5" floppies.
  • Ultima VII: Complete Edition (1993) Has both games and both expansion disks, available on 3.5" floppies only.
  • The Complete Ultima VII (1994) Has both games and both expansion disks, on CD-ROM.
  • Electronic Arts CD-ROM Classics: The Complete Ultima VII (1994) Budget release that has both games and both expansion disks, on CD-ROM. Aside of a brief installation and quick-start guide, no printed documentation or trinkets; all documentation is on CD-ROM in PDF format.
  • Ultima: The Black Gate (1994) The original SNES version.
  • Electronic Arts CD-ROM Classics: The Complete Ultima VII: Gold Edition (1996) Same as the 1994 release, but with gold-edged box.

In addition, it has been published as part of collections:

  • Origin Top Ten Pack Includes Ultima VII: The Black Gate. (pre EA buyout)
  • EA Compilation, bundled with some Creative Labs sound cards.
  • Ultima Collection (1996) Contains all cardinal Ultima games between Ultima I and Ultima VIII, and also Akalabeth.

Super Nintendo version

FCI / Pony Canyon published the SNES version of Ultima VII, simply titled Ultima: The Black Gate, which was created by a small team inside Origin Systems.

This version was largely different from original since the PC version of the game was a then-huge twenty megabytes, yet this translation could use only one megabyte of memory for all of the game data and program. The maps and many usable items and plotlines had to be redesigned from scratch, and the game program had to be rewritten entirely in assembly language.

The game was largely real-time action, similar to The Legend of Zelda series. The 'party' system was scrapped; instead, the Avatar journeyed alone. Also, the story was largely changed due to Nintendo of America's censorship policies at the time: instead of murders, the Avatar is asked to investigate kidnappings.

PSP version

In August 2006, GameSpot reported that Electronic Arts would be porting Ultima: The Black Gate (the SNES version of Ultima VII) to the PlayStation Portable as part of EA Replay.[15] It was released in the United States on November 14, 2006.

Compatibility with modern systems and fan projects

Both parts of Ultima VII used a non-standard DOS memory management extension called "Voodoo Memory Manager". This was not a typical DOS extender; therefore, Windows 95 and later are completely incompatible with the game in its original form, unless rebooted into DOS mode. The game can be run with fan-made patches in modern operating systems. The game is also playable in x86 DOS emulators such as DOSBox.

Exult is a cross-platform recreation of the Ultima VII engine, which allows the game to be played on modern machines and across different operating systems. Exult's array of tools have enabled fans to take the game apart and modify it. It has enabled several fan translation projects. Exult contributors have also expanded the game by enabling Serpent Isle paper doll graphics in Black Gate, and fixed some of the bugs and design flaws found in Serpent Isle, which were originally left in due to the rushed release. There are some features of the original game still to be implemented (for example, the way NPCs interact with the game world is not fully recreated) and some extra features added by the Exult team.

There have been a few projects to make Ultima VII fan remakes in other game engines, but so far the majority of these projects have not been successful.

See also

  • Exult, a game engine for running Ultima VII on modern systems.
  • Usecode

References

  1. ^ Garriott, Richard. "Tabula Rasa: Questions and Answers". NCSoft. http://www.gamespot.com/pc/rpg/tabularasa/news.html?sid=6143760. Retrieved 2006-11-05.  
  2. ^ Garriott, Richard. "Tabula Rasa Team Bios: Richard Garriott". NCSoft. http://www.playtr.com/team/team_bios.html#biosTop. Retrieved 2006-10-02.  
  3. ^ MobyGames, [1], Retrieved December 7, 2009.
  4. ^ MobyGames, [2], Retrieved December 7, 2009.
  5. ^ GameSpy, [3], Retrieved December 7, 2009.
  6. ^ MobyGames, [4], Retrieved December 7, 2009.
  7. ^ The Trivial ULTIMA, Old Trivia Answers, Retrieved 29 October 2006.
  8. ^ For clarity, it should be noted that the Avatar character can be of either gender.
  9. ^ The Escapist: Issue 14, The Conquest of Origin, Retrieved 19 July 2007.
  10. ^ Underworld Dragon. "Audio". Collectible Ultima. http://www.notableultima.com/collectibles/Audio.html. Retrieved 2006-10-02.  
  11. ^ Lesser, Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk (March 1993). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (191): 57-62.  
  12. ^ MobyGames: Ultima VII: Part Two - Serpent Isle, [5], Retrieved 18 December 2009.
  13. ^ MobyGames: Ultima VII: Part Two - Serpent Isle, [6], Retrieved 18 December 2009.
  14. ^ Underworld Dragon. "Ultima VII". Collectible Ultima. http://www.notableultima.com/collectibles/Title_U7.html. Retrieved 2007-05-25.  
  15. ^ Sinclair, Brendan (2006-08-31). "EA confirms retro Replay". GameSpot. http://www.gamespot.com/news/6156902.html. Retrieved 2007-08-25.  

External links


Strategy wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010
(Redirected to Ultima VII: The Black Gate article)

From StrategyWiki, the free strategy guide and walkthrough wiki

Ultima VII: The Black Gate
Box artwork for Ultima VII: The Black Gate.
Developer(s) Origin Systems
Publisher(s) Origin Systems
Release date(s)
Genre(s) RPG
System(s) MS-DOS
Players 1
Rating(s) "Voluntarily rated MP-13 (For Mature Players)"
Preceded by Ultima VI: The False Prophet
Followed by Ultima VII Part Two: Serpent Isle
Series Ultima
This guide is for the MS-DOS version. For the SNES and PSP version, see Ultima: The Black Gate.

Ultima VII: The Black Gate was a landmark title in the Ultima series. It is widely held as one of the best in the series (along with Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar and Ultima VI: The False Prophet).

After being taunted by a mysterious being who calls himself The Guardian, a moongate appears. The Avatar arrives back in Britannia once more, and is immediately confronted with a grisly murder. As he investigates he discovers this is more than just a simple murder. The world is changed from his last visit: magic is failing and unpredictable, the moongates are malfunctioning, and in fact the whole land is in danger of falling prey to The Guardian.

The game was quickly followed by the Forge of Virtue expansion disk which introduced the Isle of Fire, and the following year the pseudo-sequel Ultima VII Part Two: Serpent Isle was released. In 1994 a totally different version called Ultima: The Black Gate was released for the Super Nintendo, replacing murders with kidnapping and utterly redesigning the world map, among other changes. In 2006 this version was released for the PlayStation Portable as part of EA Replay.

Table of Contents

Getting Started
  • Controls
  • Weapons
  • Items
  • Spells
  • Companions
  • Trainers
  • Transport
Walkthrough
  1. Trinsic
  2. Britain
  3. Cove
  4. Minoc
Sidequests
  • Isle of Fire
  • Rune of Honor
  • Shrines of the Virtues
  • Laurianna's Kidnapping
Appendices
  • Secrets
  • Cheats
  • Runic Alphabets
  • Stealing
  • Venom effects
  • Troubleshooting
  • Mods and patches

Gaming

Up to date as of February 01, 2010
(Redirected to Ultima VII: The Black Gate article)

From Wikia Gaming, your source for walkthroughs, games, guides, and more!

After being taunted by a mysterious being who calls himself The Guardian, a moongate appears. The Avatar arrives back in Britannia once more, and is immediately confronted with a grisly murder. As he investigates he discovers this is more than just a simple murder. The world is changed from his last visit: magic is failing and unpredictable, the moongates are malfunctioning, and in fact the whole land is in danger of falling prey to The Guardian.

The Super Nintendo version of the game, called simply Ultima: The Black Gate, is significantly different. Its plot (and even the opening cinematic) are very faithful to the original having only had slight adjustments due to Nintendo's censorship policies (for example, the grisly murders have instead become merely kidnappings). It does not support the SNES Mouse (all interaction is via menus), has no party system, and the towns and dungeons have been significantly redesigned.

The game was quickly followed by the Forge of Virtue expansion disk. The following year the pseudo-sequel Ultima VII Part Two: Serpent Isle was released.

Contents

Game data

DOS

  • Published by Origin in North America in 1992.
    • The original version included a cloth map of Britannia and a life-size Fellowship medallion; later releases (and the SNES version) included only a paper map and lacked the medallion.

SNES

  • Published by FCI/Pony Canyon in North America in 1994.

External Links

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  • Ultima VII: The Black Gate wiki guide at StrategyWiki
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