Review by dread_dragon
"Great classic and still worth a look"
"Labyrinth of Worlds" is the second (and unfortunately last) part in the Ultima Underworld series. The "Guardian" has enclosed the entire castle of Lord British with blackrock and nobody is able to escape. Your mission is to find a way to destroy the prison.
After the animated introduction that shows how the castle gets wrapped up in blackrock you are about to begin. First you have to create a character. The usual classes are available, a little bit uncommon are "tinker" and "shepherd". Bonus points can be spread over various skills and you can increase them later in the game after leveling up (if you can find someone who is willing to train you).
Magic users want to have as many mana points as possible. However, to be able to cast spells you must find the appropriate runes first, which are hidden in more or less obvious areas throughout the game. Thus you won't be able to cast one of the more sophisticated spells until much later in the game (e.g. fly, telekinesis, ...).
You are playing from a 1st person perspective. The controls are easy to handle with a mix of keyboard and mouse. It's interesting to notice that you can look up and down, you move in a true, convincing 3d environment. The easy to moderate riddles and fights make this game perfect for beginners and there are only very few moments of frustration. For me it was the second computer RPG I have every played (after Dungeon Master) and I had no problems finishing the game.
The world of Underworld 2 is much bigger than in part 1. Instead of just one dungeon with different levels you are now facing 8 completely different worlds. e.g. a Goblin Tower, an Ice World or a Battle Arena, that will be activated by applying small blackrock gems to the big Gem found in the sewers of castle Britannia. The automap feature will help you finding your way back and it's possible to add notes to it. There is one special area where the mapping is turned off.
What I really loved about the game is the way how the riddles could be solved. Usually there is more than one way. e.g. you can fight, talk or use stealth to get what you want. NPCs response to your actions and if you are hostile to some goblins, the other goblins will attack you.
One of the biggest motivation in a RPG is that your character levels after gaining enough experience points. In Ultima Underworld the highest level is 15 and I wish there would have been more. You are still able to get skill points though, which can be used to increase such important skills as lore, casting or attack.
The story is quite simple, you must purify the different worlds from the influence of the Guardian and destroy the surrounding blackrock. There are some events going on in the castle when you return from your different visits, giving you the feeling that you actually make progress in the game.
Now we come to a difficult point: the graphics. Even when the game came out in the 90s there was only love or hate with nothing in between. I liked it very much and can still look at the game without feeling dizzy after 10 minutes (tried System Shock? Whoa!). The game window is bigger than in part 1 and there is much variety in the look (colors, tilesets) and in the feel (the way how the dungeons are constructed, e.g towns, sewers, arena etc).
The music score is very well and adds to the atmosphere, each world having its own theme. I can still whistle some of the melodies! The sound effects are okay, although not as creepy as they could be considering that you are walking through several dungeons.
Play Time/Replayability 9/10
Play time is long (don't know exactly but I would say ~30 hours), Ultima Underworld 2 is much bigger than part 1. Replayability is somewhat limited, it's worth to play the game at least a second time with a different character and to try to find some of the very secret areas but the puzzles are the same and the fights are not as challenging as in SSI games or Wizardry.
Final Recommendation 9/10
Should you play the game? A clear yes, I highly recommend it to every lover of computer RPGs especially if you are about to begin your RPG career. Experts will find the game way too easy but may give it a try because of the fantastic atmosphere that it creates. Put on your headphones, darken the room, light a candle and start playing - that's what I call virtual reality!
Nowadays it's usually part of some other compilations, e.g. the Ultimate RPG Archive is worth buying.
Before you start playing you should make sure that the latest patch has been applied! Otherwise you might get stuck in the story line (the "servant" bug) or loose items ("inventory" bug).
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 01/05/06
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