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Thread: Why do YOU like or dislike the Underworld games?

  1. #1
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2000
    Location: Kirkland, WA USA

    Why do YOU like or dislike the Underworld games?

    I think that the Underworld games are the best rpg's ever made. I've played Baldur's Gate, the Diablo's, the Elder Scrolls games, Betrayal At Krondor, Dungeon Master, heck even Wasteland, the original Pool Of Radiance and NetHack. None of them even come close to the sense of immersiveness and fun I got (and get) from UU and UU2.

    I wonder why this is. I think it's about layers of detail.

    Popcorn. It's all about popcorn. If you've played the game you know what I mean. And undocumented stuff. Experimentation can pay off in an Underworld game. -- An automap that allows notes to be written on it. Many crpg designers still haven't caught on to the fact that this is an essential crpg feature.

    Bags, pouches, coffers, boxes and packs. Put this in that and those two in this one and so on... It's game just playing with your boxes and coffers. Somewhat standard now but the Underworlds probably did it first.

    If you can't unlock a door you can bash it but it might damage or even break your weapon. Of course, you can pick the lock or cast an opening spell on it too.

    You learn a particular "monster language" and actually use it to communicate. (Amazing!) - If you find a musical instrument, you can actually play it by tapping keys on your keyboard, and a lute sounds different than a flute too.

    Melee, close combat, something LGS was always quite good at simulating (while most other 3D game developers cop out by offering only ranged weapons in their games), was great. Pulling your weapon back and holding it as long as possible for a stronger attack was a brilliant touch and one that gave feedback to the player. Nice. Sounds like Thief doesn't it...

    The Underworld levels are superb. It is fair to say that I have seen nothing like them in a game since. No skimpy dopey level one either. The first level of Underworld 1 is large, interconnected, diverse and challenging. It's really fun even when you go back to it now, and it teaches all of the basics for dungeon survival that a player will use throughout the rest of the game --without ever seeming like a trainer. Wow.

    The Underworld games, particularly Underworld 2, are non-linear. Non-linear is a buzzword now. The Underworlds were among the first crpg's to eschew the typical linear "lead the player by the nose" design. Very cool.

    I liked the ice (Yow!), yeti and snowballs. I liked clearing out monsters from a room, then moving in and arranging my stuff all over. I liked having to move my "apartment" as I explored deeper (or dimensionally displaced) levels. I loved flying and fighting. I loved teleporting. Boots of Jumping? You bet.

    So....My question is: Why do YOU like the Underworld games? What do you think were the games' best features? If you didn't like them what do you think were the games' worst features? Why are the Underworld games so darn fun?

  2. #2
    Moderator
    Registered: Sep 2000
    Location: Hong Kong

    [quote]Originally posted by aardvark:
    I think that the Underworld games are the best rpg's ever made. I've played Baldur's Gate... None of them even come close to the sense of immersiveness and fun I got (and get) from UU and UU2.


    I couldn't agree more. I've played a few of the RPGs that you've mentioned above and none of them even come close to either of the underworld games. No matter what RPGs that I've played over the years, none has satisfied me in the same way that the underworld games has. In fact, I usually walk away from other RPGs feeling a little dissapointed.


    I really find it amazing that after all these years I still get a lot of excitement out of these games. Perhaps for me, one of the most enjoyable aspects of the game is its intriguing charachters and side quests. What sets these side quests apart from so many games is that I found myself genuinely wanting to complete a quest because it was interesting rather than just wanting to get it over with so that I could get nearer to finishing the game.




    For the time, it had amazing AI, in my opinion. I can't think of any other game before it where a charachter would attempt to flee when badly injured in combat.




    I don't have time for that long a post at the moment, but I'll add some things later when I've thought of them.


  3. #3
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2000
    Location: Limoges, France

    For me, that's very simple.
    I just LOVE to discover new worlds.
    If these worlds are well designed, vast, immersive and if you can meet interesting populations, then that's all I need.
    That's why I loved UUW (1 & 2 but especially 1 because you don't have to come back to already known places very often, which contributes even more to the pleasure of discovery) and that's also why I love Ultima IX and Dungeon Master (I think DM is as much important as UUW in the crpg world, and I hope Arx Fatalis will mark a new milestone in this field).

  4. #4

    I agree with all that. [Thumbs Up!]
    I'd have to say, though, that Might & Magic had a party to go around with you. This would've been great in a 3d crpg like the Underworlds. I haven't played the games mentioned above, so if it's been done, I just stick to the best and leave the rest alone.

    Brad S.

  5. #5
    Member
    Registered: Jul 2000
    Location: Mothership 2c457z

    Internal consistancy is a big one for me. The UU games (and the early Ultima games for that matter) have a remarkable reality that doesn't dramatically change every time they bring in a new plot point, ya know?

    That and incredible pacing, excellent story-telling, good combat and inventory systems...


    I could go on and on... so I won't.

  6. #6
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2000
    Location: Limoges, France

    [quote]Originally posted by Brad Schoonmaker:
    I'd have to say, though, that Might & Magic had a party to go around with you. This would've been great in a 3d crpg like the Underworlds. I haven't played the games mentioned above, so if it's been done, I just stick to the best and leave the rest alone.



    Indeed, in Dungeon Master you control a party of 4 members.
    But you could have considered that party as a eight-armed character alone.
    Actually, controlling an unseparable group (especially in the ancient days when the movements were limiteded to constant steps in 4 directions) is not really far from controlling a single character.
    But the real-time combat has always been something I like (and the turn-by-turn combat system of M&M and many other games sucks imho).

  7. #7

    [quote]Originally posted by xman:
    But the real-time combat has always been something I like (and the turn-by-turn combat system of M&M and many other games sucks imho).


    Yeah, same here. I'm just talking about the idea of a party, but not necessarily multi-player, being a part of the game. In the old days of turn based play, it was done the best it could be done. Maybe having an AI controled party is the next step in the genre. [Thumbs Up!] Wish!

    Brad S.

    *edit*
    [quote]Maybe having an AI controled party is the next step in the genre.


    I'm rereading this now and it sounds like I've never played a game with an AI controled party [erg] Actually, I have. Many. I just meant for the Underworld type games (3d rpg genre) to have developed AI party systems for the player to access would be great, I think. If it already does exist, then I'm showing my ignorance.

    [ January 17, 2002: Message edited by: Brad Schoonmaker ]


  8. #8
    New Member
    Registered: Jan 2002
    Location: UK

    When I played UW2 back in 1993, it was simply stunning - graphically I hadn't seen anything like it, and then there was the fact that it was in full 3D - something that, to the best of my knowledge, wasn't achieved by anything else until Duke Nukem 3D in 1995 (correct me if I'm wrong). Aurally, it had a soundtrack that I still listen today. But, by far the most importantly, it had - for want of a less clichéd phrase - unsurpassed gameplay immersion.

    I actually cared about what I was doing. Most sub-quests were highly pointless, but I felt compelled to pursue them anyway. The characterisation was top quality, and characters didn't seem to just be trainers and vending machines on legs as they do in so many RPGs. I remember feeling saddened and angered that Lady Tory was murdered. The chilling similarities between Killorn Keep and Britannia. Going around the Pits of Carnage killing five people at a time in Jospur's fights gave me a power trip. The Ethereal Void was amazing, as was Loth's Tomb, the Ice Caverns and .. in fact, there wasn't a single bit of it that I didn't enjoy. UW2 was the most wonderful game ever, I love it with my entire soul and it's almost criminal that people can honestly claim that Half-Life or Quake - both excellent games admittedly - are the best games of all time.

    I can't see another game in future having the same effect. As I say, a full-3D world and what by today's standards are god-awful graphics struck awe into me at the time, but as today every title is released with photo-perfect graphics, there seems to be little technical improvement that can make it stand out. And as storyline and gameplay go, I just can't see UW2's being bettered, ever.

    I'm counting on Arx to prove me wrong.

    [ January 18, 2002: Message edited by: DCLXVI ]

    If the world didn't suck, we'd all fall off.

  9. #9

    I think computer games still have a long long _LONG_ way to go in the field of technical achievements. Sure today's games look much much better than UU, but it's still pretty damn obvious that it's a game in nearly all instances. I think it's going to be a while yet before that changes.

    It's a while since I've played the Underworlds, but I think what I loved about them mainly boils down to immersion and freedom. I think these concepts touched just about every aspect of the game in one way or another.

    To give just a single example, who could forget the thrill of figuring out a new spell on your own from the rune translations?

  10. #10
    Member
    Registered: Jul 2000
    Location: Mothership 2c457z

    UUW1 has yet to be knocked out of my favorite game of all time spot. I have a DOS machine with an old SB in it, just for playing the UUW games.

  11. #11
    Member
    Registered: Dec 1998
    Location: Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

    Heh, as do I, except it's mostly used for Ultima 7... UW is a bit too dark on its old monitor. Oftentimes I'll just play UW on this computer, it still runs fine under windows

  12. #12
    Member
    Registered: Jul 2000
    Location: Mothership 2c457z

    I use Exult to run U7 on my machine, but I can't get UW to run properly under Windows.

    I'm checking out a Virtual PC trial later today to see if I can get that to work for UW.

  13. #13
    Member
    Registered: Jul 2000
    Location: Mothership 2c457z

    Well it runs, and runs well!

    The sound is a bit sketchy, but I didn't install voices, and I turned off the in game music, and it doesn't bottom out (unless I'm in the water). Seems Connectix doesn't intend Virtual PC for the PC to support games.

  14. #14
    Moderator
    Registered: Sep 2000
    Location: Hong Kong

    [quote]Originally posted by PraetorJudis:
    ...and I turned off the in game music, and it doesn't bottom out (unless I'm in the water)...

    Personally speaking, I can't quite enjoy the games as much without the music. I think that the anthem like music is some of the most memorable pieces ever written for games, in my opinion.

  15. #15
    Member
    Registered: Jul 2000
    Location: Mothership 2c457z

    I'm finding it haunting and odd without the music too. Of course, I remember the music so clearly that my memory is filling in for me, including the victory fan fair when I win in combat!

    Truth of the matter is, I'm certain the music would drive my fiance up the wall, and I'd end up turning it off anyway.

  16. #16
    Member
    Registered: Feb 1999
    Location: Finland

    Some of the finer points of the UU games (the first one in particular), IMHO:

    -Immersive, non-linear and rewarding the player for trying out all kinds of creative things. (Had to mention these again.)

    -The realistic, gritty, environements: There's junk lying all around the dungeons and caves, the walls and floors are covered with vegetation. I also loved the fact that there wasn't a +5/+5 holy avenger sword lying around every corner waiting for someone to pick it up. For the first few levels you had to make do with the damaged leather leggings. I can still remember what a delight it was every time I found a better piece of armor - be it just a worn chain cowl or something equally unimpressive compared to even the shittiest equipment a character can possibly have in Diablo. I also simply loved the level design. And the automap, of course.

    -The population of Stygian Abyss: Not every goblin, troll or even ghoul mindlessly attacked you. I was very impressed with the fact that even the classic "evil races" of paperback fantasy seemed to have to have their own motives and interests that ranged beyond killing the player.

    -Food and light management: It added a lot of immersiveness to the game that you had to, especially in the early stages of the game, worry about running out of torches or stuff to eat. I also enjoyed the intoxicating effects some of the plants and mushrooms had on the player character.

    These are just some of the things I enjoyed about the game, I'm sure I could come up with a lot more, if I took the time for it.

    [ January 21, 2002: Message edited by: Boreal ]


  17. #17

    I like the idea that you need 'lore' skill to really know what you have. There're cursed as well as special items to be wary of. Very cool, I think.

    Brad S.

  18. #18
    New Member
    Registered: Jan 2002
    Location: UK

    It's just a shame that so many of the skills were beyond useless - Stealth and Traps, to name just two off the top of my head.
    If the world didn't suck, we'd all fall off.

  19. #19
    Member
    Registered: Jul 2000
    Location: Mothership 2c457z

    [quote]so many of the skills were beyond useless - Stealth and Traps
    Are you kidding me?

    Stealth resulted in getting the drop on opponents practically 100% of the time (providing you walk, not run through the dungeon)!

  20. #20
    New Member
    Registered: Jan 2002
    Location: UK

    Did it? Oh.

    With things like Repair and Lockpicking though, it's a shame that there just aren't enough times when they'd be useful to justify putting points into them, when you could just use RSY or a key/weapon respectively.

  21. #21
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2003
    Location: Calgary
    For some reason, perhaps the fact that Underworld was released within weeks of both Ultima VII and Wolfenstien 3D, it never got the recognition it deserved. I have a copy of Computer Gaming World's top 150 games for their 15th anniversary and amazingly, it was placed at number 68...... 68!!!?? this is one of the top 5 games of all time easily. In my opinion...the most underratted game in the history of computer gaming. (at least according to Computer gaming world)

  22. #22
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2003
    Location: Calgary
    Oh and what is the thing I like most bout Underworld? The amazing (to coin a phrase of the day) "virtual reality". It's hard to remember in this day and age where there are zillions of 3d smooth scrolling FPS games how revolutionary UW was when it first apeared. Before it, dungeon games were bascially Wizardry or Ultima clones (yes even the venerable Dungeon master was basically the same as them with pretier graphics). Underworld was a flight simulator in a dungeon with 3d polygon , texture mapped graphics, 4 1/2 years before Quake and it's offspring. Was funny when it came out so close to Ultime VII because although U7 had it's good points ( and was really quite different) it was not even really in the same leauge as UW in quality and inovation. Also , U7 had a horrible memory management system while UW was smooooooth and clean.

  23. #23
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2003
    Location: Calgary
    Oh what the hell, more Underworld gushing. (Been playing it again and have completed down to level 5 ) Many have mentioned Diablo and few ever credit the HUGE influence Ultime Underworld had on that game. Mana and Health look basicall the same (UW it's shown as vials , Diablo as balls) Weapons and armor degrade and look visiably damaged. Few ever give credit though to the one they owe.....

  24. #24
    Go the (revived) Underworld Gushing! :)

    But... You didn't need to create three separate messages

    *points to the button labelled "edit" on your replies*

  25. #25
    New Member
    Registered: Feb 2005

    Technologically and in terms of play mechanics, UW2 was well ahead of the curve when it came out. For me, what sealed the deal besides the then amazing grpahics, was the non-linear gameplay and the seamless blend of combat, exploration and puzzles (aided by an intuitive control scheme) all tied up within a tight plot that moved at just the right pace.

    Holy crap, I can still recall clearly my jaw hitting the flaw the first time I entered the goblin tower and started brawling right in the doorway with the goblin guards that were holding that guy (Bishop? -wasn't that his name - it's been so long) prisoner. And how can yer forgot ol' 'headless', stumbling and groping around in the dark in his own special way?

    Those blocky old scaled sprites sure look crude now, but when they combined with the interesting plot driven dialog and titbits of legend and backstory that the NPC characters like Fissef ("If it ain't one thing, it's another!" ) would divulge, they truly came alive. Warren Specter, Doug Church and the LG gang owned back in the day! I think it's a fair assessment that I pretty much got into the game dev. industry, some 11 years ago because of those guys and the magic they were weaving. Happy days!!

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