Lord British is missing! The premise of Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny is more straightforward than the innovative plot of its predecessor but still remains completely fresh and unique. The Avatar dreams of his imprisoned sovereign and realizes he must embark on an epic quest to locate and restore him to the throne of Britannia.
Aside from giving Richard Garriott another chance to make his on-screen alter ego the focal point of an Ultima game, the plot works well for several unrelated reasons. After ascension to Avatar status in Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar, what could be more fitting than a trial-by-fire to test your newly acquired virtuous mastery?
The royal reins dropped by Lord British are immediately snapped up by the evil Lord Blackthorn who is performing experiments related to the creation of new life forms. As the adventure progresses, you discover that he, along with three Shadowlords, are spreading hate, falsehood and cowardice across the world in direct contrast to Lord British's declared virtues of love, truth and courage.
The cast of supporting characters is quite familiar to fans of the series as you are joined by longtime Ultima characters Iolo and Shamino. Many more followers of virtue are recruited into your merry band as you do battle against abundant evil minions doing their best to destroy you. Lord British offers words of advice (no physical help) by way of the Avatar's dreams and tends to do so at inopportune times such as when he's just suffered a horrible death. Perhaps the venerable lord feels that death builds character.
Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny continues to build on the innovative combat system originally created in Ultima III: Exodus as the combat screen is separate from the over world and town interface -- effectively a zoomed-in view of the action. A wide array of weapons and armor is available, as in most Ultima games, in addition to a few new items such as magic wands. The spell system is slightly modified but stays true to its predecessor's reagent and power word mix.
EGA graphics have improved greatly since the last title in the series and actually make gameplay easier by allowing differentiation between objects on the screen. The world of Britannia springs to life like never before as the blocky, stick-like figures of previous games are replaced with far more realistic icons and a great deal of extra background animation. The sound is weak, consisting of nothing more than PC speaker clacks and beeps for effects and there is, inexplicably, no music, unlike the Commodore 64 and Amiga versions that feature a fantastic soundtrack.
Your quest to find the missing ruler and free him requires ingenuity since the evil Shadowlords, for all intents and purposes, are immortal. Only after determining how to deal with them and locating Lord British will you finally be able to once again enter the Stygian Abyss and restore Britannia to its former, uncorrupted glory.
Graphics: EGA graphics are a huge improvement over Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar. The details of characters and backgrounds are well done and there is good animation as well.
Sound: While all other aspects of the Ultima series keep improving, the sound seems to be getting worse. The PC speaker effects seem completely inadequate compared to the graphics and overall quality is extremely disappointing, especially in light of the terrific soundtracks heard in the game on other platforms.
Enjoyment: Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny provides a solid gaming experience. A good driving plot, plenty of interesting characters and the same familiar world of Britannia to explore add up to engrossing and hearty fun.
Replay Value: As with Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar, there are so many people in the world and so many items and objects scattered throughout, it is entirely possible to miss big sections of the game if played only once. To ensure full exploration and maximum return on the fun factor, replaying the adventure is recommended.
Ultima V uses the basics of the Ultima IV engine, an overhead perspective of Britannia or one of many towns or dungeons, which use a rosette-compass 3D view. Many actions are expanded, including much more world interactivity and much deeper characters than the 'signpost' NPCs of Ultima IV.
In Ultima V, you, the Avatar and Hero of Britannia, are called back to deal with a new threat - the tyrant Blackthorn, who, after the disappearance of Lord British, now rules the land by enforcing the virtues upon the will of the people, corrupting their meaning in the process. Behind Blackthorn are the Shadowlords, anti-thesis to the three Principles. Their meaning and origin are explored later in the game, rounding out an immersive world and very meaningful plot.
People who downloaded Ultima 5: Warriors of Destiny have also downloaded:
Ultima 6: The False Prophet, Ultima 7: The Black Gate, Ultima 8: Pagan, Ultima I: The First Age of Darkness, Ultima II: Revenge of the Enchantress, Ultima III: Exodus, Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar, Ultima 7: Part Two - Serpent Isle
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