Arx – End of Sun…

Arx – End of Sun after the break…

Arx – End of Sun…

I can either consider myself fortunate or unfortunate to live during a time where PC gaming is woefully inadequate.

It is an unfortunate present condition, to be certain, to always be confronted with a paltry selection of games at “brick and mortar” stores with prices that range from modest to ridiculously expensive.

It is a fortunate historical condition, though, in that I lived during the era where one could enter a video game store to see wall-to-wall, from floor-to-ceiling, selections of PC computer games and expect nothing less. Having now been deprived of such an experience for so long, I feel that if ever the opportunity to witness such a sight were to present itself nowadays, it would feel as though I would have walked into the Library of Alexandria itself.

During that era where one could still expect at least a reasonable selection of PC games, the franchise known as “Ultima Underworld” appeared. “Franchise” is a loose word to describe the Ultima Underworld series as there were only two of them. The “Ultima Underworld” series was created by a small company called “Looking Glass” who would then go on to create the influential “Thief” series and “System Shock 1” (Looking Glass provided the engine but did not “develop” System Shock 2, also very widely regarded).

“Ultima Underworld 1” and it’s sequel are often under-regarded in the world of first-person gaming, simply because it was not an actioner like it’s contemporaries, “Doom” & “Quake.” Regardless, Ultima Underworld was fairly innovative for it’s time, with room-over-room technology & 3D models. Add to this innovation a complex RPG storyline and the game has since been heralded as a turning point in first-person gaming, even if not necessarily appreciated at the cash register.

Sadly, the lack of sales for the series meant that there was no further interest in generating a 3rd entry into the “Underworld” series. The source intellectual property, the “Ultima” franchise, was already beginning to feel the corporate effects of being owned by Electronic Arts. “Ultima 8: Pagan” had underperformed and “Ultima Online,” which would revolutionize online gaming, was on the horizon.

Attempts at creating a 3rd entry in the “Underworld” series sputtered throughout the years and was thought to be dealt a crushing blow when Looking Glass, the company that had made the first (and only) two Underworlds closed for business. A few years later, another company attempted to make a 3rd entry into the series but was also rebuffed. However, this company then proceeded to simply make one anyway, stripped of the “Ultima” intellectual property.

“Arx Fatalis” has often been regarded in gaming circles as the unofficial “Ultima Underworld 3.” The creators of the game have often said as such, remarking that their attempts at securing the Underworld rights failed because Electronic Arts simply wasn’t interested.

“Arx Fatalis” is also highly regarded as a worthy successor to the “Ultima Underworld” series. It’s large world space, multiple quests with multiple solutions, varied storylines and “hard RPG elements” (such as needing to eat) have given it credibility amongst RPG players.

Unfortunately, “Arx Fatalis” became too much like it’s predecessor – Praised by fans and critics alike but not purchased by the masses. It is highly unlikely that we will ever see an “Arx Fatalis 2” – The company which made the game has since been bought out and it’s future as a surviving entity is uncertain.

However, just as fans of the “Thief” series have had renewed hope with a fan-made mod called “The Dark Mod,” a fan-made mod called “Arx – End of Sun” is bringing some hope to those who wish to continue the “hard RPG experience” that “Arx Fatalis” gave. Considered a prequel to “Arx Fatalis,” “Arx – End of Sun” will be built much like “The Dark Mod,” off of the “Doom 3” game engine.

Currently, there is only a single game play video to demonstrate the capabilities of the fan-made mod. The mod is still in it’s early stages and although some art assets have been created for the sole purposes of demonstration, there is no guarantee that the mod will even be created. Fan mods, as any astute observer of gaming can tell you, are notorious for not being completed as they are under no obligation, legal or financial, to be completed.

I hope that “Arx – End of Sun” is completed, though. “Arx Fatalis” was a nice game with a good setting. I congratulate the team creating the mod for their successes thus far and look forward to watching their progress in the future.

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