Ultima VII - The Black Gate

The Black gate is a full and rich RPG that will keep you entertained for several weeks. There are towns, caves, dungeons, deserts and Island's to explore.The Black Gate is a moderately difficult game, but not one in which you can come to an utter stop, you can always go off and do something else whilst thinking over a problem.. Unfortunately when Ultima 8 appeared many of the RPG elements of the Black gate were dropped in favour of arcade elements. But that is another story.

Britiannia is under threat from the Guardian again. This time the threat is more supple and concealed. You are suddenly transported from Earth to Britianna and the town of Trinsic. A vicious and strange murder has just occurred. You meet your old friend Iolo and are asked by the town's mayor to investigate. What follows is a long and hard quest to track the murderers and ultimately also prevent the Guardian from unleashing his plans for Britiannia. I found some parallels in this game to situations that happen today on modern Earth. The corruption, greed and things not being what they appear to be. I can't go to deep without spoiling the game plot.

The graphics are still good even though this game is now a few years old. Ironically when the Black Gate came out it was shunned by many as it ran so poorly on the standard 386SX and DX computers that were the norm then, now it runs too fast for some on Pentiums. The main view fills the whole screen and is a top down, slightly side on perspective. The character stats and inventories are available on pop-up windows that are activated by hot keys or by double clicking on the Avatar. Sound unfortunately does show its age, the music is repetative and the sound affects pathetic. The sound of the thunder is dreadful and when you are carrying a fire sword or staff an annoying static sound is used to simulate the licking flames. Speech is very sparse, but good.

Interaction with NPC's is a strong point and there are many NPC's to interact with. Combat is real time but if you are like me you left it to the PC to do it all. Magic is so-so, I love the Spellbook type system, but in my game the Avatar is the only person with magic ability. There is a tendency in the first stages of the game to ignore magic all together. But you won't go too far in the later stages without some decent spells. Spells must be purchased from several magicians or mages. Luckily money and gold is easy to find in Britianna's caves.

There isn't much I did not like about the Black Gate. If you like the more hack and slash type games, forget it. If you like stats coming out of your earholes ( like Crusaders of the Dark Savant ) you also may be a little dissapointed. Black Gate manages to strike a balance between both extremes well.


Don't forget to utilise those very useful virtue stones. Mark one in Britianna Castle, so you can teleport back for a healing session with Lord British whenever you need it. It evens works in dungeons and caves. Other hot spots would be at Trainers and Mages shops were you can zip back to stock up on reagents.

Don't waste money on a ship. Go to Cove and have a good talk to Rudyom !

Glass Swords are great, but don't waste them on normal creatures.

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