Ultima IX was received with mixed feelings by most gaming sites, magazines, and reviewers. On the one hand, the bugs and the lack of 3D optimizations were criticized, while on the other hand, the game was praised to have a "great plot" or even worse, an "epic story".
The good reviews and the positive critiques of the Ascension plot, which, as we know, may as well be the work of a ten-year-old, were horrible when the game was released.
You can find some examples of obscure reviews here, collected from numerous websites. (So if you are easily upset, click the "back" button of your browser.)
Yet, there are also some commendable exceptions.
Please note that I summarized some of the examples, though without changing the meaning, of course.
Table of contents
- Gamespot UK
- Desslock’s RPG News
- Game Revolution
- Adrenaline Vault
- Games Domain
- Future Games Network
- Happy Puppy
- PC Games Online
- Adventure Games Forever
- Süddeutsche Zeitung
- PC Action
- PC Player
by Darren Allan, rating: 8.5/10
...What really carries Ultima IX through, despite niggles, is the high standard of storyline and feeling of achievement you get as you progress through the adventure. While the plot is channeled sufficiently so you don’t find yourself lost and alone in the huge gameworld, there’s enough freedom of movement, and exploration is rewarded. [Especially if you like plot stoppers.] Ultima IX feels much more like a roleplaying game again, addressing problems that the previous game stumbled on, namely the arcade gameplay and lack of plot direction. [...and you can bake bread again! There has never been a truer Ultima!]
Desslock’s RPG News
by P. Stefan Janicki ("Desslock"), rating: 2.5/5
Ultima veterans should be pleased that a number of key characters, items and locations return, but this installment doesn’t strictly respect Ultima lore in a number of ways. It’s actually surprising that there’s so much revisionism, and the inconsistencies are never adequately explained. Unlike ULTIMA VIII, however, ASCENSION doesn’t completely abandon its roots, although the plot lacks the moral ambiguity of the best games in the series.
The excellent plot of the game unfolds to the absolute delight of the player. Ultima IX draws you in with a great story, a good interface, terrific gameplay, and graphics that, under proper conditions, create the mysterious and enchanting world of Britannia with more success than perhaps any game has ever had at creating its setting. [What’s draws you even further in is the possibility to sleep with Raven if you click the proper dialogue lines.]
The Adrenaline Vault
by Chris Harding, rating: 2.5/5
Hidden beneath all the bugs and performance issues is one of the most entertaining products ever to grace the computer screen. [Nah, Tomb Raider’s kewler.] It has an outstanding cast of characters, a blessed story that is as epic as it is thrilling, and a world so vibrant and rich with color that once you enter it, you’ll never want to leave. [Unfortunately, you’ll more than once forced to leave it due to crashes.]
...This sounds like a great plot [Well, this is arguable], but it ends up lacking in depth. Most of the game is spent doing the same thing: crawling along a dungeon. Unfortunately, U9 is more linear than any other game in the series. In addition, parts of the plot are hackneyed and forced. It’s a pretty large insult to the intelligence of the average gamer when your archnemesis only has about as much intelligence as Dr. Evil from the Austin Powers movies.
Future Games Network
by Michael Askounes, rating: C-
Your job as Avatar is to cleanse the corruption of the eight sacred shrines of virtue and once again save the land of Britannia. However, as the game progresses, you realize that you’re pretty much stuck in a loop - get mantra, get sigil, go in dungeon and get glyph, restore shrine . . . repeat seven more times. Quite frankly, even if the patch had fixed ALL of the technical glitches, I still don’t think that Ultima IX would’ve been that enjoyable to play.
by Lothian, rating: 90%
Ultima IX just reeks of a nostalgic odour. [The longer you play, though, the stronger will the inconsistencies be stinking.] Several aspects of the game will strike fans as pleasantly familiar. The travel music [That’s "Stones"! What a fan!] and Lord British’s castle themes [Also known as "Rule Britannia"] fly us back to the days of the False Prophet whereas the fortune tellers cards remind us of the onset of the Quest of the Avatar. [And when the Avatar has finally realized that carrying people to Paws is not an act of compassion, I burst into tears.] The music is all re-done to support 3D THX, truly blur the lines between fantasy and reality. The Voice acting is also well done and, as has happened in some titles, doesn’t cheapen the feel of the game.
by Steve Steinberg, rating: 8/10
The graphics in Ascension are top-notch. The new 3D look is breathtaking. The level of detail it adds to the towns, dungeons, and landscapes is incredible. [Especially in Cove] It’s kind of ridiculous that there are those who were against the leap to 3D because it went against the traditional look of the series.
by Trent C. Ward , rating: 6.2/10
The story is deep and rewarding and reflects a great deal of thought behind problems like homelessness, dishonesty and pride in our own society. [OK, where’s the next shrine? I just need mantra, sigil, and glyph, then I can make all people on this world dancing and singing in peace, beneath the blue sky on green hills. They will kiss and hug and smile, and they will melt all guns into shovels, scythes, and rakes. Wohoo!]
Ascension’s plot is made even more intriguing by the inclusion of an amazingly well developed love interest named Raven.
by Jeremy Anderson
Ultima IX is perhaps the most immersive, detailed, and seamlessly constructed digital fantasy world ever constructed. [The author further below admits that he hasn’t played any Ulima before. What a surprise.]
by Kuno, rating: 2/10
All in all this was the worst Ultima I’ve ever played. There are two reasons I finished the game. One is because its an Ultima game and I kept thinking that it would get better and the other reason is because while I was playing it I was also writing a Walkthrough for it. This is not how I pictured the Ultima series ending...
If you liked Ultima 7, you will love Ultima 9. [If you hated Ultima 7 because you killed certain NPCs by accident or were pissed at merchants who didn’t want to sell you a sword at midnight, you will especially love Ultima 9.] If you did not, you’ll possibly still love it - because Ultima 9 Ascension combines Ultima 7’s complexity, which so many adored, with top-notch 3D technology. I urge everyone else who appreciates a demanding fantasy world with a touch ["touch" is the right word] of serious nature [rOfLmAo] and has at least a bit of an understanding of roleplaying games, to play this impressive epos.