It’s two simultaneous posts today as yesterdays got left on a memory stick in my office.
The first thing I find today is a chest full of every type of potion. Hiding under one of them is a key – there appears to be a tradition of hiding keys under things in Pagan.
Its not long before I find a locked door to use the key on – finding the correct key in this mess takes a little while.
I find a long corridor with skeleton guards past the door – this has to be the hall of the mountain king.
Sure enough, Lithos appears when I get to the end. He has full speech with the speech pack but the avatar is stuck with text which makes for a strange sort of conversation. The acting is nothing great as ever but it adds a bit more gravitas to the occasion. The titan comes across as being incredibly arrogant and not worth worshiping but my avatar is very polite and bows to him for all that. The titan wants Lothian to serve him in death and I’m given the task of interring the body to complete my apprenticeship.
Before I head back to the surface, I stick around to see if there is anything left to explore. I’m unable to get back across the platforms I had to jump across to get here though so I’m stuck using my recall spell to return to Tenebrae. I’m sure its highly preferable to the pre-patch version but the jumping still doesn’t always work correctly and I end up missing my target.
First job here is to get that keyring that Natreg told me about. Its in a barrel at the start of the game – at the time I guess I was distracted by the beheading that was going on.
I head back to Vividos. He gives me a new key which I can use to inter the body and gives me fairly unhelpful directions to find it. This new key will open more doors in the catacombs – I’ve seen enough of the catacombs and was hoping I could stay away from them.
The body turns out to be just outside the building I was in but I don’t discover this until I’ve walked round the cemetary a couple of times. It would help if it wasn’t half hidden behind the scenery. I’m not entirely happy about making the body a slave to the titan like this but I suppose Lothian knew what she was doing and signed up for this. I use my new key on her and the ground swallows her up and the titan proclaims that he is happy with the offering.
I return with the news and I’m now officialy Scion. Since I now know what happens to Scion’s in the long run this is further incentive for getting off of Pagan and back to Britannia but I must be safe for a good few years yet.
My next task, its back to the catacombs to make a pilgrimage to the birthplace of Moriens. I’m pretty sure I’ve already seen this in my wanderings through there previously.
Sure enough I find the plaque. This is definitely the right place. I use my key on the door.
Through here is a tomb with a load of sparkles on it – these don’t appear to do anything but look significant.
Next door is a body with a restore to sight scroll which makes hidden things visible. I use it to see what will happen and a chest appears absolutely stuffed with goodies. I’ve got a few of these scrolls which makes me wonder if I should have been using them at the time.
I find a book on a skeleton which looks highly significant. There haven’t been a lot of books so far in the game and this stands out in the endless dungeon-like catacombs. It describes the Zealan gods before the titans became powerful. It also mentions using a ceremonial disc to talk to the gods – I’m actually carrying one of these already which I picked up from Mythrans house. It was described as a ceremonial shield and I was hoping to be able to use it as a shield but its just been cluttering up my backpack every since.
The next area of note is a chest surrounded by levers. Pulling the levers doesn’t achieve anything – I have to move the skull candle by each lever then pulling one opens up the fence around the chest. In the chest is a key which I use on the door to the north.
There isn’t a lot in this new area but I do find something called the skull of quakes. I don’t know what it is or what it does but anything with a title like that has to be important so I take it with me.
Finding nothing else to do here, I head back for a fenced area I saw earlier. This is a maze of sorts with pressure plates that open/close bits of the fence. The trick here is to climb upto the raised area and jump off the end of it to bypass the last parts of the maze.
This gets me to a tomb with a suspicious looking area of earth and the conveniently placed ingredients for an open ground spell. Sure enough casting the spell opens up the ground allowing me to drop to the area below.
Down in this new area I see another of those ceremonial shields out of reach behind a load of stalactites. I can’t get through here so I head the other way.
I reach a strange area with a floating platform covered in marbles. I mess around here throwing marbles up onto the platform for a while with nothing happening. There seems to be a primitive physics system in the game so you can knock marbles into each other and they roll off. This isn’t getting me anywhere until I notice a platform of the far side of the fence which I can throw a ball onto to open it up.
I head north and jump over this beam to avoid damage.
I next have to complete one of those tiresome ‘tower of Babel’ type puzzles. These things are more of an exercise in patience than anything else.
I have to walk on pressure plates. Walking on the one in front of a block lowers its smallest platform, walking on another raises it again. After messing around with this for a few minutes I move it to the left hand side. Nothing happens – apparently I was supposed to move it to the middle….
A few more minutes later and I’ve moved it to the middle. A door opens at the top and I run up….
…straight into a beam which kills me off instantly.
I reload and complete the babel puzzle yet again and this time cast stone flesh before I run through the beam. I reach what looks like an important location and use a couple of keys I found earlier to get in.
This room has 3 statues of the Zealan gods. I take the hint from the book I read earlier and drop the shield on the altar. The old gods all speak to me (in full speech again) telling me to go into the next room and get a blackrock pyramid from the spirit in there.
The door is locked but I’m carrying an open portal scroll I picked up somewhere which opens it up. I have to defeat the ghost before I can steal his blackrock pyramid. I consider mixing up a spell for this but that would mean trying to find the ingredients in my backpack so I hack at it with my axe which does the trick.
I get the blackrock pyramid from a chest behind the throne along with a few other goodies. When I go back outside the statues give me a new quest. I have to find the other titans, steal there powers and become a new titan myself of a fifth element – Ether. How or where I do this I don’t know but there are areas of the catacombs I haven’t explored yet.
Ultima 8 continues to annoy me – completing the tower of babel thing 3 times with this clunky interface was painful. I seem to be spending nearly all my time in a never ending dungeon. Whatever happened to exploring the towns/world and talking to everyone? The population of Pagan appears to be tiny. Tenebrae was a decent size – I realised this was the games only town but I expected to see some smaller settlements elsewhere. The map that comes with the game appears to be pointless and has just been included purely because Ultima’s have always had cloth maps.
Playing around with the marble puzzle emphasised just how difficult it can be to pick an item up. The engine is very fussy about being close to the object but if I get too near I’m assumed to be standing on it and I can’t pick it up either. If a marble rolls infront of a wall and out of sight then its lost forever – there needs to be some sort of function where walls vanish if they obstruct the view.
1994 really hasn’t been the best year for Origin games all round but I have got System Shock and Wing Commander 3 still to come which should be something of a redemption when I get there. My favorite game of the year so far has been Pacific Strike. It was by no means great – more of a rehash of old themes using existing technology but it was fun once it got going. About 1/3 of Origins games came out inside this 93/94 period and there is definitely evidence that they were turning out too many to maintain high quality levels.
I went into Ultima 8 expecting it to be a bit of a departure from the rest of the series but otherwise a decent game. I suppose if I was into dungeon crawls I’d be enjoying it more although the interface would still be a problem. The storyline and dialog isn’t bad but its so slow at coming between long dungeon stretches. I’m desperately looking for a change in the gameplay now when I start looking for my next titan. I can’t cope with more maze-like dungeons, dodgy puzzles/key hunts and platform jumping. I’ll be making liberal use of walkthroughs otherwise to speed through as quick as possible.