dont exactly know what I expected from Ultima Online: Third Dawn.
Maybe I wanted to get my hair blown back a little or maybe to
feel some new excitement funneled into an old game.
Regardless, I didnt get much.
Third Dawn isnt much more than a 3-D facelift to the UO
universe and the only people who will appreciate it are those already
must say that UO in 3-D does look pretty impressive compared to its
2-D predecessors like Ultima Online: Renaissance.
The ¾ isometric perspective is preserved only now its all
in polygons. Spell
effects are impressive and most of the monsters sport new designs.
Everyone will probably mention the spiffy looking dragons. Im not a critic who thinks that moving something into 3-D
is automatically good, but the new aesthetic of Third Dawn, everything
from weapons to landscape, looks nice.
The user interface has also seen some modification, essentially
making it easier to use and providing a few stock character
last addition in Third Dawn is the island Ilshenar. This place, accessible only through moongates, is a
high-level area with tougher monsters and the requisite new equipment.
Also, players cant built homes on Ilshenar so for those of
god-like power who have played UO since its inception and are now sick
of over-built Britannia, this island will be a nice place to tiptoe
through the tulips.
in all, Third Dawn is a nice visual update to UO that doesnt
substantially change the game in any interesting way.
And its the game itself that deserves criticism.
In many ways, UO feels like an instantiation of the mythology
of the old west. Characters
of high level stroll the countryside with the ability to kill whomever
they come across. In
order to avoid this fate, many decide to become merchants within the
safety of various city walls. Get
enough cash and you can build yourself that first home.
Then buy a boat for a Grand Tour.
My point is that UO has a twisted sort of verisimilitude with
the non-electric world, and thats either to its credit or Achilles
heel depending on your point of view.
for this review, I went back and played the text-based MUD Mozart for
a comparison. For many
years, starting in the early 90s, Id been involved with Mozart
and thought it was the cats pajamas.
During most of that time, most players talked with excitement
about the possibilities of graphics, of actually walking down dungeon
hallways, seeing the faces of your friends, and looking at the various
monsters about to kill you. Since
those graphics have come, Im frankly disappointed.
Working through text, and hence with the aid of client
software, play is magnificently fast. Traveling across virtual continents takes very little time.
As I can type much faster than I can use a mouse, most
text-based MUDs have a dizzying array of character skills that are
simply too difficult to implement or access in a GUI. Finally, games like Mozart are first and foremost just that:
games. They eschew many
of the sticky and uninteresting problems of real life.
that, I think, is the problem with UO.
Its like the real world in a box, and while that is a sort
of accomplishment, why not make a game called Your crappy job in
which you sit in a cubicle and watch the clock, or Cross Country
Travel where you navigate interstate highways for several hours.
UO isnt as bad as that there are baddies to kill and
toys to get but it isnt that far off either.
the problem with Third Dawn is just that its just a software
update. With a price tag
of $9.95 for those already playing UO, those are the only people Id
recommend buy it. Theyve
already invested in the game and so a little 3-D might be nice.
UO itself presents a larger problem.
Too many of the pesky problems of real life travel,
bullies, getting a job take away from it being a game.
The life Ive got gives me enough of that.
Third Dawn is no reason to get into UO, and unless youve got
a burning desire for a virtual life that mirrors your physical one, UO
itself offers nothing fun to play.