Let me jsut give you a quick review of the game that I love over every other game I have ever played. This being a hardware forum, graphics are usually held in high regard, but I am here to talk about a game that is neither graphical nor demanding on your computer, but instead, extremely fun to play! (A rarity nowadays).
I am, of course, talking about Ultima Online. Let me make myself clear right from the get go. I do not play the pay server. The game went completely downhill after EA baught it out and screwed it over with their extreme game-ruining powers. I play free servers. I am part of the community that created RunUO. RunUO is a free UO server emulator, and believe it or not, it is better
then the one created by the actual game's developers. We have withstood the beating of over 7700 game clients on a single server at one time, experiencing no lag or crashing (The server is a Quad 3.0 ghz EM64T Xeon, with 8 gigs of ram, but 7700+ users is a feat none the less). A benchmark EA could only dream of hitting. That being said, on to the review.
Ultima Online is vastly different from your average MMO. Yes, it exsists in a persistant world and whatnot, but the play style is totally different.
-First up: No classes?!? WTFm8!?
UO does not have classes. EVERYONE is just a regular human dude. This is where the beauty of UO customization comes in. Skills work very differently in UO. You don't have the usual droning of: Whack stuff, get exp, level-up. Skills work off of a percentage basis. There is no such thing as experience. You get better at skills simply by USING them (what a concept, I know). As you use skills your, er, skill will increase in that skill. It is rated as percentages. As you use the skill, your percent "knowledge" (for lack of a better word) in that skill will go up. Each skills has a maximum of 100%, at which point you have "GM'd" the skill (GM meaning Grand Master). Like I said and will say over and over. The beauty of UO customization comes in again. You do not have classes, so there are NO set templates. You are free to make whatever kind of template that your heart desires your character to be. You can have a total of 700% in skills. Generally that translates to 7 GM skills of your choice, but you can spend those 700 points any way you wish. This leaves you with UNLIMITED choices to what kind of character you want to be. If you wanna be a pure mage, nox mage, stun punch mage, tamer mager, tank mage (often called "Hybrid", uses both weapons and magery), dexxer (pure weapon fighter), theif mage, pure theif, disarm theif (what I play, hella fun), tailor, blacksmith, tinker, and the list goes on and on and on! You can combine skills in any manner that you wish to. Some skills even affect other skills, making them more powerful. The choice is really yours.
This all works the same way for stats (Strength, Intelligence, Dexterity). You don't gain stats by leveling up, but by using skills that require that stat. Fighting with weapons will increase your strength, hiding/stealing/snooping/fighting with fast weapons will increase dex. Using magery-based skills will increase Intelligence.
-The beauty of UO: CUSTOMIZATION BEYOND BELIEF!
As I told you with skills, UO is customizable as anything. It's not just skills either. The way that your character looks, hair type, hair color, skin tone. Every piece of armor and clothing that you put on you can SEE on your character in real time, making your character completely unique, not to mention there are hundreds of different things that you can wear. Another beauty! Huing! You can hue just about any wearable item to any hue (color) you want, and there are thousands of hues out there (some harder to aquire than others, of course),
Probably one everyone's favorite things about UO. Customizable houses. You heard me. When you place a house, you don't just plop one on the ground and there it is. It places a foundation for you, and you get to build the house yourself. Tile for tile. Walls, floors, stairs, windows, roofs, everything, and there are hundreds of styles to choose from, which you can mix and mingle in anyway you want.
There are numerous other things that make it good. There are no Ub3r-1337 weapons and armor that will make you auto win the game (Sorry, no hellfire axe of damnation that sets off a nuclear explotion on your victims face while satan comes up and stabs him to death with a pitch fork). There ARE good weapons and armor, some alot better then others, but they are all within a parameter where they will be effective in combat, just some moreso then others. And there are no special weapons like angel swords and bull**** like that. All weapons are just regular, it's just that some have been crafted better, or have better damage properties.
PvP (Player vs Player combat) is absolutely INSANE in this game. The game basically revolves around it. There are guilds, with the ability to war and join different orders of conduct (Chaos/Order). You also have the ability to attack anyone you wish, when you wish. Though that comes at a price. Let me explain the flagging system first. There are 5 different ways you can be flagged. Flagging changes the hue of your name.
Blue (Innocent) - You have no committed a crime, nor are you a murder or part of a war.
Grey (Criminal) - You have recently committed a crime and are subject to getting guard-whacked (if in a town) and can be attacked by other players at will without reprimand to them.
Red (Murder) - You have killed at least 5 innocent players and were reported for murders on those counts. This is basically a permanent grey status.
Green (Friendly) - Your party members/guild members will appear green to you enabling you to heal them regardless of their personal status (Healing a grey or red will normally turn you grey aswell)
Orange (Enemy) - Members of guilds or factions that oppose yours will appear orange to you, enabling you to attack them anywhere without reprimand.
Anywho, you can attack anyone at any time you wish, but after 5 murders you are permanently flagged red.
PvP is also pushed along by Factions. Factions is a giant system of combat which there are 4 warring factions. You can join the faction of your choosing. It is basically a never-ending war to control the 8 key cities on the map. When you capture and control a city you control everything in it from guards to prices on NPC vendors.
IN SHORT, ULTIMA ONLINE IS THE BEST MMORPG EVER!
And for those of you too lazy to read all that. Just watch this video. It was made by one of the best PvP'rs that our shard has ever seen. Enjoy.
(P.S. Sometimes that link doesn't work. If not, just goto www.hyru.net
and watch UOGamers Promo).