It seems like we’re asked about Star Wars games more than anything else here on Play-Old-PC-Games.com, which brings us to this particularly troublesome little title. In this game, you take on the role of mercenary Dash Rendar and help the rebels topple Imperial walkers, blow up TIE fighters, rescue princesses and all the usual Star Wars things.
Your first challenge with Shadows of the Empire is to actually get the game installed. If you are still using a 32 bit version of Windows you can install the game from the CD normally. If you’re using a 64 bit version of Windows, you can use our convenient replacement installer, which you can download here (link broken? Let me know here). The replacement installer also automatically installs the music fix and the graphics fix, so can be useful for users on older systems too. Simply download and run the replacement installer, making sure your Shadows of the Empire CD is in your computers optical drive.
Once installation is complete, you will have two options on your Start menu/screen, Play Star Wars Shadows of the Empire (Fixed EXE) and Play Star Wars Shadows of the Empire (Original). Like several other games we’ve tested, there doesn’t seem to be one definitive fix that works for everyone, so we have given you a couple of options. Read on to find out more.
Running the game
This game has multiple issues and is not guaranteed to work for you, all you can do is give it a go and see if it works. We recommend that you try the “Fixed EXE” version first. This version of the game has been patched with the WineD3D DirectX to OpenGL wrapper software from dosse91. Several gamers report that this version of the game runs the best for them.
Start the fixed exe version and wait a moment, be patient as this version can take a minute or two to start up. Eventually, the window shown below will appear (click on the picture to enlarge it).
There are a couple of things you should check in this window. 3D device should be set to “Wine D3D Device”. Display mode can be set to any screen resolution your PCs monitor supports. Remember if you choose a widescreen resolution (like 1080p – 1920×1080) the games graphics will be stretched out of proportion.
Do not try to run the machine performance test as this is likely to simply lock up. If anything, your modern PC will be too fast to run this game!
When you have configured the settings, click on “Play”. The game will go to a grey screen for anything up to several minutes, but it should eventually start. Watch (or skip, by pressing escape) the opening movies then try starting a game. Hopefully the game runs well (though CD music will not work just yet). If not, read on for further troubleshooting steps.
Alternative method – DXWnd
If the above method does not work well on your PC, you may want to try the PC retro-gamers friend, DXWnd. Follow the tutorial here to learn how to use this tool. There should be a profile for Shadows of the Empire included with the latest versions of DXWnd. When using DXWnd with Shadows of the Empire, be sure to use the original executable. If you installed with our replacement installer, this is called “SHADOWS-orig.EXE” and is in C:\Games\Shadows\Sdata by default.
Getting the CD music to work
CD audio in the game will not work on any modern PC. If you installed the game using our replacement installer, both the orginal and fixed executables include a fix for this, but there’s an additional step you need to take before this will work. What we need to do is extract the CD audio files from the original game CD and store them in the MUSIC sub folder, that’s inside the “Sdata” folder within the Shadows of the Empire game folder (so that’s C:\Games\Shadows\Sdata\MUSIC if you used the default paths). Follow this tutorial to extract the audio files. There’s just one crucial change you have to make, when the tutorial talks about choosing “FLAC” encoder or “MP3”, ignore this and instead choose Ogg Vorbis encoder.
Make sure that you name the extracted files correctly. The files should be named “Track02.ogg”, “Track03.ogg” etc, with no spaces. Of course you can rename them after extracting them. Once you have them named correctly, copy them to the Sdata\MUSIC sub-folder. The picture below shows a properly configured music folder.
The next time you play the game, you should now hear CD audio as well as the games sound effects.
We were not able to get gamepads working with this game, even using Xpadder. See the troubleshooting section for more information.
Troubleshooting and known issues
There are multiple issues with this game and compatibility with modern PCs is not guaranteed.
Controllers do not work – The game plays fine using keyboard and mouse controls, but game controllers do not seem to work at all. Even when disabled, the game picks up input from the gamepad and this affects gameplay, making it impossible to use tools like Xpadder that can normally add controller support to incompatible games.
Corrupt videos – On some machines the videos may appear corrupt. Usually, using the fixed (WineD3D) executable will cure this problem.
Crashes on startup – If the game refuses to start, try running it in compatibility mode for Windows 95. If you’re unfamiliar with using compatibility options in Windows, see this tutorial.
Crashes to desktop – The game is prone to crashing to the desktop mid-level.
Game runs too fast – On many machines the game simply runs too fast to be playable. Sometimes this only affects the games menus, whereas other times the problem persists in-game too. As a workaround to this problem, you can use a program called Process Sleeper. You can download this tool here. The program is downloaded as a rar archive, we recommend using 7-zip to extract it to any convenient location on your PC. If you’re not familiar with 7-zip, see this tutorial.
Process Sleeper is in Russian and so may not show correctly on a standard English language PC, but it’s very simple to use anyway. The picture below shows it running.
Firstly, click on the “…” button to open a standard Windows file requester. Locate the SHADOWS.EXE game file (it’s in C:\Games\Shadows\Sdata by default) and double click on it. Now, click on the left hand button in Process Sleeper (it will be the only button that isn’t greyed out). You will need to experiment with the program and find the correct value for the “Ms” box. On our quad-core Windows 8 machine we had to go up to around 11ms before the game would run correctly.
Unfortunately, running the game with Process Sleeper like this does cause the video cut-scenes to stutter somewhat.
In-game stuttering/juddering – If you’re lucky enough that your PC plays the game at the correct speed, you may still find that the game doesn’t run as smoothy as you might hope. Currently there’s no known work around for this.
Problems saving games – Save games are stored in the same folder as the game itself. If you installed with our replacement installer this should work fine as the folder will have been created with full read/write permissions. If not, see this tutorial on how to configure folder permissions to fix any issues.
Click on any screenshot to enlarge it.