reviews\ Nov 29, 2004 at 7:00 pm

Ultima Online: Samurai Empire - PC - Review

When one looks at the world of Ultima, the various incarnations and expansion, there is a certain admiration for what the game established, and a certain sedate feeling when entering the lands of Britannia. The world has struggles, there is adventure, crafting and exploration, but the pacing is somewhat slower.

 

The Land of Feudal Lords, otherwise known as the Takuno Islands, serves as the new territory for this expansion to the Ultima universe. It was hinted at in the first Ultima title, and expanded upon with new classes, a new guild system, as well as the usual array of new territories to explore and new monsters to kill.

 

But in Ultima Online: The Samurai Empire, players to the universe are treated to basically more of the same, although with a decidedly Eastern bent. The new classes follow the ways of the bushido and ninjitsu, and naturally, there are new skills associated with each. While the samurai are the warriors of honor, great champions with lightning-fast skills and techniques, the ninja advance along the thread of the mysticism often associated with the art. This means smoke bombs, melding into the shadows, assassination techniques, poisoning and mirror images to fool the enemy into attacking the wrong target.

 

The bushido skills include a tasty attack in which you can one-shot an opponent.

 

 

Crafting, as one can imagine, introduces new items that can be built. The islands themselves offer 15 new mobs, new treasure drops which fall in line with the classes. The weapons have changed appearance but essentially offer the same style of play as before. Ranged, melee and magic remain at the core of the combat system, and little has changed in the interface, if anything at all.

 

The guild system has received a new interface and players do not need to have a guildstone or clan house to form a guild. Of course, there are plenty of guilds in the game, and players can easily find one to pledge to. The introduction of the conditional guild wars (in which there is a way to win the war) is a nice touch.

 

 

The game interface is the same, and players can opt to move existing characters over to the new lands and into the new roles via the soulstones, which were offered with pre-orders. But exploring the new world is as simple as creating a character and embarking on the quests the game has to offer.

 

Graphically the expansion offers up some elements that support the Asian theme, but the general environments are pretty much what players are used to in this world. Moongates still help port players from one location to the next, and you level up skills through using them.

 

The new sound elements have a very nice flavor and support the game very well.

 

UO: Samurai Empire is a nice expansion that gives the UO community more opportunities in terms of crafting and guild matters, but while it offers new lands, the game itself has not really changed direction all that much. Is this a bad thing? Absolutely not. The samurai and ninja are fun to play. The game treads new ground but much remains the same. UO is the granddaddy of online gaming and with expansions like Samurai Empire, it still has life in those aging legs.

 

Review Scoring Details for Ultima Online: Samurai Empire

 

Gameplay: 7
Nothing has really changed here. The game interface is still the same, and the game plays at the same pace, with the same combat elements.

 

Graphics: 7

The general look of the game remains essentially the same. Top-down view with the same graphical quality that is the Ultima 3D world. Add some buildings, equipment and armor with an oriental flavor and you have the expansion summed up.

 

Sound: 7.9
The new musical score is very soothing and pleasant. Therein lies the only major or noticeable difference.

 

Difficulty: Medium

Still a challenge and still fun.

 

Concept: 7.8
The new lands are fun, and the new guild attributes really make for a better guild dynamic.

 

Multiplayer: 7.5

Still a good community and players, for the most part, are friendly and helpful.

 

Overall: 7.5

While this definitely expands the world of UO in terms of new territories, it still offers much the same in gameplay aspects. The new classes are fun to play and the new music is a delight. UO is showing signs of its age, but with expansions like Samurai Empire, the game is still offering enough to keep it lively.

Good

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