Part 34: Let's Play Ultima VI: The False Prophet
Let's Play Ultima VI: The False Prophet
Pretty cool box art. And brilliant, too. If you've finished this game, you know why. If you haven't, you've probably gotten some of the subtle hints already. This is not a game about liberating a world from the forces of darkness.
This is a game about racism.
I'm serious. The last of the Age of Enlightenment trilogy (IV-VI, although I'm not sure the whole trilogy naming actually came into place until well after this game came out), The False Prophet deals fairly seriously with moral issues in the same vein as IV and V did, although considerably more convincingly and interestingly. If IV was about personal virtue, and V about the virtues of a society, VI is about what happens when societies clash. The game asks us to consider if there is a way to bring different groups of people to common ground, even when they're (rightfully) pissed at each other.
Because we're the Avatar, and because Richard Garriott is an optimist, the answer is yes. Of course, nothing is ever that simple...
Origin's logo has gotten a little fancier. They'll keep this one for a while, even after being swallowed whole by EA many years later. For now, they're still independent and alive.
The rather mannish Avatar at home, now with vastly improved graphics. Remember how all our stuff got stolen at the end of Ultima V? Well, we're somehow back, with more stuff. The Avatar has a big LP collection, but then again this is 1990. Also note the clock; the Avatar stays up as late as I do.
Also note the absolutely hideous sexy poledancing zebra centaur picture. You might be asking what the fuck is going on there. The answer, quite simply, is Dr. Cat. ur-Furry and Origin employee par excellence, Dr. Cat is responsible for an enormous amount of this game and Ultima VII, as well as various parts of the spinoff games between the two. Dr. Cat would eventually leave Origin, create a graphical furry chat game, and fade into semi-dignified obscurity. I've spoken to him, he's a pretty cool guy. And let's face it, if you're listed in the credits for Ultima VII you're pretty much immune to judgment for any foible or flaw, no matter how grave. I mean, shit, we overlook Richard Garriott's constant self-insertions.
The other new name to remember in this game is a fellow by the name of Warren Spector. You know, that Warren Spector. The Warren Spector who helped create the Spelljammer D&D setting and Toon. The Warren Spector who is responsible for System Shock, Thief, and Deus Ex. The Warren Spector who turned the Daikatana-tainted name of Ion Storm into a reputable brand. That Warren Spector. There's a reason this is many folks' favorite Ultima, or even favorite old-school RPG.
But let's get back to the story.
Box art from Ultima V. In Martian Dreams, the box art from Ultima VI will appear next to the Avatar's computer. I'm not sure if the box art for the previous games was in the Avatar's house in Ascension, but it wouldn't surprise me if they forgot. Not that any of the games after this one had particularly memorable box art.
This is starting to get familiar. I imagine the Avatar gets up and runs to the window every time it gets slightly cloudy.
Check out those bitchin' graphics! This is VGA, baby!
And here we go, leaving the door unlocked again. We deserve to get robbed.
Seriously, take ten minutes and close the door. Lock up. You never know!
Now, let's keep this in mind. What was it we brought to Lord British at the end of the last game?
Oh yeah, that's right, it was a mysterious stone that fell from the heavens and created a red moongate.
And there it is now!
C'mon Avatar, put two and two together...
Or just run straight in without stopping to think about it or anything, that works too. Jesus. This is obviously a trap, because the red moongate can be controlled. That means whoever sent it didn't just mean to bring you to another world...
...they wanted you at a very specific place.
This is turning into a very bad day.
A very, very bad day. Also what the hell is with that outfit? Are those supposed to be jeans? Pajamas? Powder blue slacks and matching boots? You can only blame so many things on the color palette here in the era of awesome VGA, buddy.
You know, I get the distinct feeling these daemons don't like the Avatar much.
Luckily, while the Avatar is retarded...
...[s?]he's also not the only one with an Orb of the Moons.
I think that's just a dumb metaphor, but it's entirely possible that the crossbow bolt actually does that.
And then the goon squad shows up. From left to right, we've got: Dupre, sporting a really manly suit of sleeveless plate mail; Shamino, who clearly has no fucking clue what he's doing here or anywhere for that matter; and of course Iolo, with a shit eating grin that makes me hate him all over again. Didn't I leave you dead in the basement of an inn, you little twerp?
See, now Dupre thought ahead and brought extra swords and shit with him. Way to completely not plan for this one at all, Steve.
Music: Main Theme
And lo, we embark upon a new old Ultima. Vastly more has changed between Ultima V and VI than changed between IV and V, so I'll need to go over everything bit by bit. However, the game starts us in combat with the daemons who rushed through the Moongate after us, so things will be kind of a mess for a little bit until we get settled. But before we can do that, we need to transfer Steve the Avatar!
Music: Character Creation
When Ultima VI came out, most game saves were made on floppies. Consequently, transferring characters is a little tricky. The good news is that by moving SAVED.GAM and SAVED.OOL to a root hard disk directory (in this case, D: is my storage drive), the game can read them.
And there's Steve. The game generously lets us pick any old name or sex for the Avatar we're moving over, but I see no reason to actually do so.
Also of note, we get the same one-tenth experience reduction as before, but starting at a higher level is hardly a problem. Also of note, Steve's stats are not reduced. At all. Starting the game with maxed stats is very, very nice.
That means there's only one thing left to do, and that's pick a portrait. That's right, characters now have horrifically-drawn portraits for conversations and status screens and stuff, and we get to pick from an array of really hideous ones! And by we I mean me, because seriously, most of these are godawful:
I'm leaning most strongly towards the second, simply for looking less dorky. The goofy virtue samurai one is funny too though. The male portraits are only slightly better, although the "Generic Blonde Avatar" portrait isn't so bad if you're into aryan supermen. Also strange, there's a black portrait option for male Avatars, but nothing even vaguely ethnic for females. It's still a lot better than Hitler Youth/Helga the Valkyrie in The Black Gate, but considerably worse than the portraits in Serpent Isle. Nothing to be done about that though, and at least the Avatar won't be the ugliest woman in Britannia (trust me on this).