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The two things most testosterone fueled gamers love are cars and guns. With this in mind it’s surprising that there aren’t more games like Bandits – Phoenix Rising that merge the two concepts together. In this post apocalyptic racing game you’ll aid the exploits of bandit misfits Rewdalf and Fennec as they try to survive the wasteland and make themselves rich. The game launched to generally average reviews back in 2002 and has slipped into obscurity since, meaning it can be found for just a few bucks on sites like E-bay or Amazon.
The game should install just fine on modern versions of Windows. Simply insert the DVD into your computers optical drive and follow all the on-screen prompts.
Before you start to play, you should install the V1.1.1 patch. You can download the patch here. Double click on the patch to install it. Care must be taken when installing the patch because on most systems it will not automatically detect the correct installation folder. On 64 bit systems, the game is installed to “C:\Program Files (x86)\PanVision\BANDITS – Phoenix Rising”. The patch however will try and install to “C:\Program Files\PanVision\BANDITS – Phoenix Rising” by default. Be sure to choose the correct location before unpacking the patch.
With the game installed and patched you can go ahead and start it from your Start menu or Start screen. We recommend disabling any secondary monitors you have attached before starting the game.
Tweaking visual quality
The first time you start the game, a small window like the one shown below will appear.
If you don’t see all the options, make sure the “Advanced settings” option is selected. For an older game, Bandits has excellent support for widescreen and even multi-monitor setups. First of all, use the “Screen area” control to choose the screen resolution. This should be your monitors native resolution, typically whatever your desktop runs at.
Secondly, make sure that “Colors” is set to “True Color (32 bit)
Now, on the bottom half of the window there are several other options you should set. Click on the “Property” box to reveal several more options. Set the options as follows:-
Z-Buffer Depth – 24 bit
Texture filtering – Trilinear filtering
Anti aliasing – 8x
Reduced texture size – Do not enable
Screen Aspect – Set this to suit your display. For a 720p or 1080p display (or any widescreen display) it should be set to 16:9.
The above settings are suitable for a reasonable spec modern PC. If your PC is a little older you may need to dial some of the settings back if you don’t want to affect game performance. Start by turning down the antialiasing if you find the game doesn’t run as smoothly as you hoped.
When you are done setting the options, click on “OK”. If you ever need to reconfigure these settings, search for “Bandits – Phoenix rising setup” on your Start menu or Start screen.
There are several visual options you can configure after starting the game too. From the games main menu, choose Options and then Graphics. On a modern PC, you should now choose “High Detail” or “Custom Detail”. If you double click on “Custom Detail” there are some advanced options you can configure. On a modern PC you can turn all of these options on or to their maximum settings without affecting game performance. Again, if your PC is a little older you may need to turn some of these down a little or make do with high detail mode instead.
Using a gamepad or racing wheel for a driving game might seem like a natural fit, but doing so in this game is actually not very comfortable. While playing the game, you need to drive while aiming your guns and the control system is clearly designed around doing this with the keyboard and mouse. The buggy will steer slightly in the direction of the mouse cursor, making it easier to aim as you drive. We did attempt to use Xpadder to emulate this setup on the 360 controller but the game was very difficult to play, so we recommend just sticking to the keyboard and mouse combo for this particular title.
Bandits – Phoenix Rising supports multiplayer games over the internet or on a local area network. Each player will need his or her own copy of the game. The Gamespy servers that facilitated multiplayer matchmaking and similar services have long since shut down, but it is still possible to connect if you know the IP address of your friends computer or if you are both on the same home network. To set up a multiplayer game, go to “Multiplayer” on the games menu, then choose one computer to host the match (this should be the most powerful computer). Set up your game server however you like then have the other computer load the game and select “Multiplayer” and then “Join”. If everything goes according to plan, you should see the game on your local network and be able to join it. We have not extensively tested either internet or LAN play however.
A number of user created mods for the game can be found here. Wolfys Mod in particular adds a number of new interesting options to the game.
Problems saving games or other settings – Like many older games, Bandits – Phoenix Rising places its save game files and various configuration files in the same directory that it is installed to. This can cause problems on more modern versions of Windows as programs are not normally permitted to write to the program files directory. To avoid this problem, either install the game to an alternate location (e.g c:\Games\Bandits) or manually edit the permissions on the games folder. A tutorial on how to do this can be found here.