Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Ultima Underworld is a series of two computer role playing games published by Origin Systems in the early 1990s. It is a spin-off from the successful Ultima series. The games were created by Looking Glass Technologies (originally known as Blue Sky Productions). An enhanced version of the engine used in the games was later used for System Shock.
Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss
Released March, 1992, the game was born from a concept brought to Origin by Looking Glass of a "simulation style" RPG using advanced 3D engine technology that was later combined with the Ultima gaming universe created by Richard Garriott. It was released before and featured significantly more complex technology and gameplay than the exceedingly popular Wolfenstein 3D by id Software. id Software programmer John Carmack has himself said that the engine used for Wolfenstein 3D was inspired by a technology demo of the first Ultima Underworld game.
The player was cast in the role of the Avatar, the protagonist of the Ultima series. After witnessing the kidnapping of a baron's daughter by a wizard, the Avatar is found guilty of the crime and banished to the Great Stygian Abyss to either rescue her or perish within. The player has to deal with the survivors of a failed colony and in the end discovers a plot to summon a demon into Britannia. In relation to the main Ultima series, the game takes place between Ultima VI and Ultima VII.
Despite its technical excellence, the game was not a great financial success. Today the game has a cult following among fans of the Ultima series, in some abandonware circles, and by the occasional nostalgic early 90s gamer. In 1993, Ultima Underworld won the Origins Award for Best Fantasy or Science Fiction Computer Game of 1992.
Ultima Underworld II: Labyrinth of Worlds
The second Underworld game was released less than a year after the first. The engine was slightly enhanced to support digital sound effects, a larger 3D viewing area, and featured new levels and content continuing the plotline of Ultima VII, the main series Ultima game also released in 1992. One year after the Black Gate incident, the Avatar is invited to a feast at Lord British's castle to celebrate a year of rebuilding in Britannia. In the early morning afterwards, a great dome of blackrock crystal forms over the castle and everyone within, including the Avatar, is trapped. The blackrock was created by the Guardian, and he intends to invade Britannia, now cut off from its greatest defenders. The Avatar has to travel to other worlds under the Guardian's control to free the castle from the spell.
The storyline is more fully connected to the main series than it was in the first Underworld game; it takes place between Ultima VII and Ultima VII: Part Two.
- Bootstrike's Ultima Underworld I Files Collection, a UW1 file resource center
- Bootstrike's Ultima Underworld II Files Collection, a UW2 file resource center
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