Ultima Online: Renaissance
Renaissance is, and lets be clear about this, two years of patches in one box. There's nothing new here, nothing, nada, zip (well, OK, a tiny little bit). What it is, however, is what a new gamer to online role-playing requires to get a good start in UO. At long last there is a manual containing useful information with introductions to both the interface and how to play the game. It also describes how UO is now split into player-killing (PK) and non-PK mirror worlds (a damn fine idea) and thankfully it doesn't contain that stupid cloth map-come-handkerchief.
The game also has an online tutorial for the beginner, covering the basics of moving and fighting. It allows the newbie up to 40 hours of gaming in a new town called Haven, where nothing at all is aggressive towards you -which is very useful. Origin claims that there are "legions of friendly volunteers" to help you out, yet when we tried it these were notable by their absence.
Out in the real-world newbies' are bombarded with "helpful" NPCs who will endlessly show you how to use items and skills via mini-quests. All this is fine for the beginner and is definitely what UO needs to encourage new gamers to play without having to read hundreds of websites.
Can You Hear The But ?
If this was the game that was released two years back we'd have raved about it. We raved about last year's Second Age version if you remember, but considering how far EverOuest has come with its latest incarnation, as it stands now UO struggles to keep up with its competition. Latency (lag) in UO is worse than we can remember (except when it was first released) and as we were using ISDN and the server is in Docklands, not America, we found this disappointing. We used four different ISPs (Freeserve, BT Internet, Pipex and AOL) and none of them cured the lag problems. In fact, it was only recently that we managed to get any decent speeds and even that was only at off-peak times. We can only hope the situation improves, which we're quite sure it will.
Add the fact that monster spawns are almost constant and we found we spent most of our time staring frustrated at the screen wondering if we had run away from the latest Ore horde or if, in fact, we were dead. Five to ten second freezes were common and travelling via 'Moongate' caused complete lock-ups about 50 per cent of the time.
The depth of UO is still by far the game's greatest attraction and the role-playing freedom that it offers is unparalleled, but after playing other "massively multiplayer online RPGs" we can't seem to feel any real connection with our little isometric characters. UO seems to have finally had its day and when viewed next to the cheaper EQ, we can only recommend you try that instead.
Processor: PC compatible, P-100
OS: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game Features:Single game mode
Ultima Online: Renaissance Screenshots
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