Genre: Real Time Strategy
Release Year: 2001
Developer: Gabriel Interactive
Age Rating: 3+
Playability Status: Perfect
Tested On: Windows 8 x64
Availability: Copyright retained - Out of print/unavailable
Robot Wars was a great spectacle for a time, until people learned that basically the best robot they could design within the rules of the competition was a moving wedge that could flip itself and other robots around the arena. During the height of the craze, Infogrames decided PC gamers would like to have a go at designing their own battle bots, but rather than let us arm them with lasers and heat-seeking missiles like we always dreamed of, we were stuck with the same mundane axes and circular saws that featured in the TV shows. In the game you’ll build your robot and fight against a variety of opponents, from bots armed to the teeth with saws, radio jammers and axes, to a robot that basically trundles around making a noise that sounds a bit like a robot Frankie Howerd with a near-flat battery.
The game should install without any issues on a modern PC, simply pop the CD-ROM into your computers optical drive and follow the on-screen prompts. If the games autorun window does not appear automatically, browse to the CD in computer/this PC and run the Launcher.exe program manually. We recommend performing a “Typical” installation when given the option. The installer will exit with an error relating to the installation of DirectX 7, but that’s nothing you need worry about.
There were several patches released for this game that address various issues and change the enemy robot roster. We recommend installing these patches for maximum stability. To patch the program to the latest version you need to download two files. Firstly, the 1.003 patch can be downloaded here (link broken? Let me know here). Simply run this file once it is downloaded and follow all the on-screen prompts. The patch will then install automatically. The 1.004 patch can be downloaded here (link broken? Let me know here). This patch is downloaded as a zip file. To install it, simply copy the executable file from inside the zip file to your Robot Arena installation directory (C:\Program Files (x86)\Robot Arena by default), replacing the existing file.
Once patching is complete, you can launch the game from the Start menu or Start screen, no compatibility settings should be necessary.
Tweaking visual quality
There aren’t an awful lot of options for tweaking the graphics in this title, but you should at least run the game in the highest available screen resolution. Start the game and from the main menu choose “Options” and then “Graphics”. The options shown below will then be displayed.
Set the games resolution to the highest available option supported by your monitor. Robot Arena is a 4:3 aspect ratio (non-widescreen) game and will not allow you to set a widescreen screen mode in this menu. For best results, make sure “Filtering” is set to “Anisotropic” too. Click on apply when you’re done changing these settings.
It’s possible to force the game into higher resolutions too. To do this, browse to the Robot Arena game folder (C:\Program Files (x86)\Robot Arena by default) and find the file “Robot Arena.cfg”. Open this file in Notepad or your favourite text editor and change the FS3DDisplayWidth and FS3DDisplayHeight to your desired resolution. For 1080p for instance, use “FS3DDisplayWidth=1920” and “FS3DDisplayHeight=1080” (do not include the quotation marks). If you’re unfamiliar with editing configuration files, see this tutorial. Remember if you set a widescreen mode the games graphics may appear stretched out of proportion.
Troubleshooting and known issues
Menus sometimes sluggish – Sometimes the games menus will be sluggish/slow to respond, while other times they will work just fine. This doesn’t seem to affect gameplay however.
Problems saving games and configurations – Like many old titles, Robot Arena saves its game data and settings into the same folder as the game itself. In some instances on more modern versions of Windows, this will mean that save games and configuration files cannot be written. To solve this problem you can either run the game as administrator (right click on the games icon and choose “Run as administrator”) or, better still, set the permissions on your Robot Arena game folder so that your user account has full control/read write permissions. You can find a tutorial on how to configure folder permissions here. For reference, the game uses the Save sub-folder for save games and profiles and the Robot Arena.cfg file in the top level of its folder to store various configuration settings.
Random crashes – Several users around the internet report that the game randomly crashes or freezes during play. However, we took our axe-wielding battle bot through 3 matches on our Windows 8 test machine and didn’t experience any crashes.
Amusingly, the descriptions for robot components and attachments are stored in plain text files within the games directory. The files are called “attachment_descriptions.txt” and “components.txt” If you want to edit these and make them more colourful, simply open the text files and edit away.
Click on the picture to enlarge it.
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