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Dracula – Days of Gore


Genre: First Person Shooter, Survival Horror
Release Year: 2006
Developer: Wolfgroup
Publisher: IncaGold plc
Age Rating: 15+
Playability Status: Perfect
Tested On: Windows 10 x64
Availability: Copyright retained - Out of print/unavailable

When it comes to obscurity, it’s not the best computer games that tend to fade away, nor is it the ones that are notoriously bad either. Real obscurity is reserved for those games that were just relatively average when they released. When we stumbled upon this title, our curiosity was piqued by the screenshots on the back of the box, but what we found was a relatively enjoyable but entirely forgettable little romp, one that feels rather rushed and unfinished with no proper story to bind the levels together. Vampire games are supposed to suck, but not like this.

Installation

The game should install on modern PCs without too much trouble. Simply place the disc in your computers optical drive and follow the on-screen prompts. If the games installer doesn’t start automatically, browse to the DVD in Computer/This PC and run the “Setup” or “Setup.exe” program manually.

There are no patches or updates we could find for the game, so once installation is done, you’re ready to play.

Tweaking visual quality

There are a couple of graphical options you can set so the games visuals don’t suck so much (that is the last time I will use that joke in this article, I promise). Start the game and from the main menu, go to “Game Options” and then “Graphics Details”. Set this to “High”. While you’re in this menu, you should change the screen resolution to 1280×1024. This is the highest resolution the game supports, the game also does NOT support widescreen and should run with black borders at the sides of the screen on a widescreen monitor.

Other notes

This ended up being a very short guide, but there’s really very little to explain with this one. The game uses DirectX 9, so it is compatible with modern in-game tools like Shadowplay, Evolve or Steam.

Remember, to kill a baddie you need to drive your stake through their heart. If you leave them incapacitated on the ground they will simply get up again.

Screenshots

Click on any screenshot to enlarge it.

 

The maid had had enough, and decided to negotiate a pay rise.

My, that is a bright pendant you’re wearing.

Forsaken


Genre: Flight Simulator, Space combat simulator
Release Year: 1998
Developer: Probe Entertainment
Publisher: Acclaim
Age Rating: 12+
Playability Status: Perfect
Tested On: Windows 10 x64
Availability: Copyright retained - Out of print/unavailable

Video games don’t often paint a pretty picture of the future. Then again, the opportunities for the kind of death defying action, adventure and conflict that gamers seem to love probably wouldn’t come about all that often in some kind of Utopian future setting. In Forsaken, a bunch of scientists go a little too far with a subatomic fusion reactor and wipe out the entire planet, causing it to be reclassified as a condemned world. This is good news for intergalactic rag and bone men however, who are now free to loot the planet on their super fast hover bike type things.

Deciding what to forsake

Before we talk about installing, playing or doing anything Forsaken-related on a modern PC, you will need to decide which version of the game you want to play. The original 1998 release (which we will call “Forsaken Classic”) can be coaxed into working on a modern PC with a little effort. To do this, you will of course require a copy of the original game.

There is also a remake of the game called “ForsakenX”. This is based on the games original source code, but with several enhancements and modifications made to the game to make playing it on modern PCs more convenient and of course to make it look better. This version can be downloaded for free and doesn’t require a copy of the original game. There are some key differences between the two versions:-

Both versions support single player, but multiplayer can only realistically be done through ForsakenX.

ForsakenX supports better quality textures and higher resolution screen modes, as well as widescreen modes.

ForsakenX lacks the introduction movie from Forsaken Classic, but this cinematic may not play correctly on modern PCs. You can watch the intro on Youtube here, if desired.

Forsaken Classic is the only version that supports in game music.

The soundtrack very much adds to the atmosphere of the single player campaign. So much so that the author of this article would personally recommend Forsaken Classic over ForsakenX, if you intend to play the single player game.

We will cover both versions of the game in this guide, so you can choose one or the other depending on your needs. If you want to install them both, that’s perfectly fine too, they won’t conflict with each other.

Installing Forsaken Classic

To install the original release of the game, first pop the CD into your computers optical drive. Dismiss or cancel any Autorun windows that appear, then browse to the CD in Computer/This PC. Explore the CD and find the “SETUP” or “SETUP.EXE” program. Double click on this and the installation process should start. It may take a few minutes for the installer to kick in, so have a little patience.

If you’re going to install Forsaken Classic into the default folder, please be sure to see “Problems saving games or configuration files” in the troubleshooting section near the end of this article. During the installlation process, you will be asked what type of install you want to perform. Choose “Custom”. You will then be asked which components you want to install, make sure all the options are ticked/checked, then click “Next”.

Patching Forsaken Classic

There is an official patch for the game. This patch fixes various bugs and so installing it is recommended. You can download it from Patches Scrolls here.

The next step is to install some additional graphics card option files. Start by downloading the file “All graphic card opt files” from the page here.

This file is a zip file/folder. If you open it, you will find several files inside it with the file extension “.opt”. You need to copy or extract these files from the zip file into the “Opt” sub folder in your Forsaken game folder. If you installed the game in the default directory, the path to this directory will be “C:\Program Files (x86)\Acclaim Entertainment\Forsaken\Opt”. Copying the files over is all you need to do with them for now, we’ll come back to what these files actually do in a moment.

Optionally, you can also grab the “Enhanced Texture files” from the same page. Again, this is downloaded as a zip file. You need to copy these to the Data\Textures sub-folder in your Forsaken game folder.  If you installed the game in the default directory, the path to this directory will be “C:\Program Files (x86)\Acclaim Entertainment\Forsaken\Data\Textures”. Make a backup copy of the existing textures folder, to be on the safe side, then overwrite the files that are already in the folder.

Finally, we’re going to need that indispensable PC retro gaming tool, DGVoodoo2. Follow the tutorial here, to download and install DGVoodoo2 into your Forsaken game folder. It needs to go in the top level of the game folder (the same folder where you can see “FORSAKEN” or “FORSAKEN.EXE”). Forsaken is a DirectX game so use the files from the MS sub-folder within the DGVoodoo2 zip file.

Running Forsaken Classic

With all the necessary patches and fixes installed, you can go ahead and start the game by running the “Forsaken.exe” file, or by searching for “Forsaken” on the Start menu/screen and clicking the icon that appears. When you do this, the following window will appear.

 

 

 

Firstly, we need to change the “Renderer”. Click on the drop-down box. You will now see, amongst other entries, the files you copied in from the “All graphic card opt files” that you downloaded previously. To determine which one to choose, you need to know how much video memory is in your PC. Most modern cards will have at least 512MB, but you can find out for sure by using the following technique.

In Windows 10 – Right click on your desktop in a blank spot and choose “Display Settings”. The Display settings window will then appear. At the very bottom of the window is a blue link that says “Display adapter properties”. Click on this. Another window should open, as shown below.

In Windows 7 or 8 – Right click on the desktop and choose “Screen resolution”. In this window there will be a blue link labelled “Advanced Settings”. Click on this and the window shown below will appear.

 

 

In this window you should see “Total available graphics memory” and “Dedicated video memory”. It’s the dedicated value you’re interested in. The PC in the picture above has plenty of video memory so we can choose the “512MB” option in this case. If your PC has less than 512MB, choose the appropriate value in the launcher instead.

All the other options can be left as the defaults, so just click “OK” on the Forsaken Launcher now to start the game.

Configuring graphics options

Before you jump on your hover bike, you might want to make the post-apocalyptic world you’ll be exploring as nice as possible. From the games main menu, choose “Options” and then “Visuals”. There are several options on this menu that will affect how the game looks, but we’ll start with “Change Detail Levels”. When you select this option, the following menu will appear.

 

 

On a modern PC, every option can be turned to “ON” or to 100% setting. The only exception is “Mature Content”, turn this off if you expect that younger children will be playing the game.

Once you have set these options, press the Escape key to go back to the previous menu and choose “Change Screen Res”. This will present a list of screen resolutions for you to choose from.

For such an old game, Forsaken is surprisingly flexible with the screen resolutions it lets you choose. However, if you choose a widescreen resolution the game will be stretched and distorted. For best results, choose a 4:3 aspect ratio mode like 1280×1024 or, if your graphics card supports it, add a custom resolution. For a 1080p monitor or TV, a custom resolution of 1440×1080 will give the best possible picture for the game.

Finally, back out of this menu and choose “Select Texture Format”. This one is easy, simply choose “8880RGB”.

You’re now done setting up the games visuals.

Configuring controllers

Controls for the game are configured by going to “Setup Biker” from the main menu and then choosing “Controls” for flight controls or “Weapons” for weapons. Forsaken has excellent support for the myriad of controllers and contraptions you might connect to your PC in order to play the game. Actually configuring a controller for this game is fairly difficult. As this is a free-flight game, you will be dealing with pitch, roll, yaw and all those other flight sim terms, while still trying to find enough spare digits on your hands to be able to operate your crafts weapons.

High level play will probably require a dedicated simulator set up with foot pedals, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the game if you only have a standard controller. Forsaken launched on the games consoles of the day to positive reviews in the gaming press, so playing on controller is entirely possible.

You will need to figure out the details yourself, some experimentation may be required to find a setup that suits you, but we have a few key points below to help you.

The game lets you bind multiple keys or buttons to the same command. If you want to remove a command, press the “Delete” or “Del” key.

If you’re using an Xbox or PlayStation controller, you can access a copy of the instruction manual for the PlayStation version here. You can use this as the basis for creating your own bindings.

You can only bind an axis to the analogue triggers on your PlayStation or Xbox controller. If you want to bind a button to the analogue triggers, use a tool like Xpadder to assign a key press to the axis.

By using Xpadder and assigning the arrow keys to the D-pad, Enter to the A (or X button on a PlayStation controller) and Escape to the Pause button you can navigate the games menus entirely using the controller. Don’t forget to alter your bindings in the game to reflect this.

Don’t worry about turning off auto-levelling and flying like a pro until you’re comfortable with the basics. You can complete the single player game in normal difficulty without needing this.

Pre-configured profile for Xbox controllers

If you’re really struggling to adapt to the controls and you’re using an Xbox One controller you can use our player profile here. Note that you will still need Xpadder or a similar tool to bind the space bar to the left trigger and the left control to the right trigger, in order to fire your crafts weapons.

To make this profile we bound forward and backward movement to up and down on the left stick, and “slide” left and right to left and right on the left stick. Pitching is then done on the right stick, with roll on the two shoulder buttons. Our brains are wired for playing first person shooters in a configuration like this, so you may find this setup easier to adapt to.

Fixing the music

Forsaken has a excellent CD audio soundtrack and although this still works on modern PCs, the music tracks do not repeat once finished. This will leave you with just the sound of explosions and “pew pew” while in the middle of a level. Fortunately, there’s a way to fix this problem. Simply follow our _inmm.dll tutorial here and convert the games audio into Mp3 format. Once this is done, the audio will loop correctly in game. Unfortunately, the soundtrack does not work at all in ForsakenX.

Installing ForsakenX

ForsakenX can be downloaded from the page here. The file is downloaded as a zip file, so to install the game, just copy the entire contents into any suitable folder on your PC. Start the game by running the WIN32.exe file in the folder. If you want a Start menu shortcut, follow the tutorial here (for Windows 10) or here (for Windows 7 and 8).

Configuring ForsakenX is virtually the same as configuring the original game, so you can refer to the “Configuring graphics options” and “Configuring controllers” sections above. Some options referenced above are obsolete and have been removed, but most of the menus and options are in the same place. Apart from enhanced textures, ForsakenX also runs perfectly in widescreen mode, so there’s no reason to choose a 4:3 aspect ratio screen mode when setting up the visual options.

Multiplayer and other notes

To play multiplayer, start ForsakenX and choose “Death Match”. You can then create your own game for your friends to join or search for a public game. Apparently there are still a number of players who meet and play the game, however when we looked there were no public games currently available. Expect anyone still playing Forsaken in 2018 to be a highly skilled player!

There’s a wealth of information about the game here, including some walk-throughs and cheat codes if you’re really stuck.

We had a lot of fun revisiting this game. While it looks dated, the gameplay is as engrossing as ever. The level design is good and the difficulty is challenging without feeling too unfair. Enemies can get repetitive and re-spawn out of thin air on some levels, but overall this is a really fun game and there aren’t many modern games that are quite like what’s on offer here.

Troubleshooting

Intro movie does not play or plays with errors – This is a known bug on modern systems, instead, watch the intro movie on YouTube here.

Problems saving games or configuration files – Like many older games, Forsaken stores its save game files and various configuration files in its installation directory. If you installed the game into the program files or program files (x86) folders, you may find that the default Windows security settings prevent the game from saving any progress. To fix this problem, either install the game to an alternative location (e.g C:\Games) or set the permissions on the “Forsaken” 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 default game installation directory is C:\Program Files (x86)\Acclaim Entertainment\Forsaken (C:\Program Files\Acclaim Entertainment\Forsaken if you’re still running 32 bit Windows).

Controller and key binding settings are stored in “Player.cfg” in the root of the Forsaken game folder. If you rename your biker, this file will change name to reflect this change too.

Save  game files are placed in the “Savegame” sub-folder. Remember the game does not auto save progress. You must manually save your progress from the pause menu.

Screenshots

Click on any screenshot to enlarge it.

Fighting drones in the subway.

Many levels have tight time limits, so don’t dilly-dally.

Some interesting advertising.

Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth


Genre: First Person Shooter, Survival Horror
Release Year: 2006
Developer: Headfirst Productions
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Age Rating: 15+
Playability Status: Fully playable (minor issues only)
Tested On: Windows 10 x64
Availability: Copyright retained - Still sold

HP Lovecraft’s monster Cthulhu is a malevolent entity so powerful and fearsome that the mere sight of him will drive you insane. Lurking in the shadows of man’s subconscious, Cthulhu likes to recruit worshippers all around the world to do his twisted bidding. His evil followers usually  form cults, who then promote Cthulhu’s madness by worming their way into positions of power, conducting bizarre and macabre rituals or by constantly phoning their victims to ask if they have been in an accident or have PPI insurance.  In this creepy survival horror title, the lead character Jack Walters has a run in with some of Cthulhu’s friends, causing him to lose his grip on sanity and his job as a police detective. Ending up as a PI, he takes a job investigating the creepy town of Innsmouth, where further horrors await.

Installation

The game should install with no problems on a modern PC. Simply place the disc into your computers optical drive and follow the on-screen prompts. If the games installer does not start automatically, browse to the CD/DVD drive in File Explorer and run the “Setup.exe” file manually. During the installation you may see a warning that “Windows Media Technologies” are no longer compatible with your version of Windows, but this warning can safely be ignored.

After installation, we found that the installer had not properly created Start menu shortcuts. To remedy this, you will need to add a shortcut to “CoCDCoTELauncher.exe” manually. The path to this program should be “C:\Program Files (x86)\Bethesda Softworks\Call Of Cthulhu DCoTE\Engine”, unless you changed this during the installation of the game. For more help manually creating Start menu shortcuts, see this tutorial (for Windows 10) or this tutorial (for Windows 7 and 8).

Patching

Unfortunately, Headfirst Productions went bankrupt not long after the game released, which means there’s nothing in the way of official patches for this game. Again, as with so many games abandoned by their original developers, it falls to the community to provide support. An unofficial patch exists for the game, but in order to use it you will need to obtain a cracked/hacked version of the games executable file, with the copy protection removed. Unfortunately we’re not able to link to files like this, but with a little detective work you should be able to find it online.

Once you do find the file, be sure to virus check it, then copy it to “C:\Program Files (x86)\Bethesda Softworks\Call Of Cthulhu DCoTE\Engine”, or wherever you installed the game. Overwrite the existing file in that folder (we recommend that you take a backup of the original file first), then you’re all set to use the unofficial patch program.

The unofficial patch is your next port of call and this can be downloaded here. The file is downloaded as a zip file, so once it has downloaded you simply need to copy the DCoTEPatch.exe file from the zip archive to any location on your PC and run it. The following window will then appear, click or tap on the image to enlarge it.

 

 

Click on the “Load…” button at the top left of the window and a file requester window will appear. You now need to navigate to where the games executable is installed, usually that is “C:\Program Files (x86)\Bethesda Softworks\Call Of Cthulhu DCoTE\Engine”. Once you have located the “CoCMainWin32” program, the options in the window should become available.

Make sure that “Modify blue light shader to allow normal completion of sorcerers” and “Modify skybox shader” are selected. The other settings in the patcher program are mostly for cheats or undocumented/removed features. There are some interesting settings over on the “Player Settings” tab however.

 

 

Notice in the top left we have the settings “FOV” and “FOV sneak mode”. If you increase these values from their defaults, you get a slightly wider view of your surroundings. This is recommended, especially if you want to try the widescreen patch that we will look at later.

Once you have configured these options, click “Save” at the bottom left of the window. If you have difficulty applying the unofficial patch, for example you get an “access denied” error when trying to save, try running the DCoTEPatch.exe program as an administrator (right click on  DCoTEPatch.exe and choose “Run as administrator”).

This is all the patching you need to do for the basic game.

Running the game

After applying the unofficial patch, start the game by running the launcher (CoCDCoTELauncher.exe). The following window will then appear.

 

 

Under “Display Mode”, you should choose the mode that most closely fits your monitors native resolution. For a 1080p TV, that will be 1920×1080. Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth does not properly support Widescreen screen modes, so choosing a widescreen mode may make some of the games graphics appear stretched. There is a fix for this that we will explore in the next section.

Make sure you choose a mode that is 60hz. The game cannot be run at frame-rates above 60fps without becoming unstable.

Under “Antialiasing mode” choose “8 x”. As this is an old game, even a modest PC should be able to handle these settings without breaking into too much of a sweat.

Once these options are set, click on “Launch Game”. Unusually for a PC game there aren’t any other quality/detail settings to configure. The first time the game is run it may ask you to download and install “DirectPlay”, you can of course answer “Yes” to this prompt.

Playing in Widescreen

It’s possible to fix the game to run properly in widescreen screen modes, while keeping the pre-rendered cut-scenes in proper 4:3 aspect ratio. To do so requires some advanced IT skills however, so isn’t for the feint of heart.

Widescreen Gaming Forum have the instructions here, if you’re interested. To complete their instructions you need to do the following.

Firstly, you need a hex editing tool, we recommend Be.HexEditor. The hex in question here is hexadecimal, rather than some kind of curse that Cthulhu’s followers put on you.

Using Be.HexEditor, you need to open the CoCMainWin32.exe program file. That’s the same file you located/opened when using the unofficial patch program above. We strongly recommend taking a backup copy of this file before attempting to edit it.

With CoCMainWin32.exe open in Be.HexEditor, you need to search for the hex values “A5 AC A9 3F” and replace them with the values given on WSGF. For a 1080p display, use the 16:9 values of “39 8E E3 3F”

You need to find and replace three instances of “A5 AC A9 3F”. Be careful NOT to edit anything else. Accidentally changing a single other value could cause all kinds of problems. If you make a mistake, exit the hex editor and start from scratch, copy in your backup file if necessary before trying again. Do not forget to save your changes once you have successfully edited the hex.

Once you’ve successfully hex edited this file, download the Call of Cthulhu Widescreen Fix file from this page.  The file is downloaded as a Zip file and it’s a little confusing where to put the files contained therein. What you need to do is open the Zip file, then open the “CallOfCthulhu.WidescreenFix” folder that lives inside and then open the “Engine” folder that is inside there. You should now see a folder called “scripts” and a file called “dinput8.dll”. Copy this file and this folder to the same directory as the “CoCMainWin32.exe” file you were hex editing a moment ago. Normally that will be “C:\Program Files (x86)\Bethesda Softworks\Call Of Cthulhu DCoTE\Engine”.

If you manage to do all that correctly, the game should now run flawlessly in widescreen. Start the game as normal, if the widescreen patch program prompts you to install an update, you can safely opt to do so.

Troubleshooting

Getting this game to work might not drive you as insane as Cthulhu might like, but it may come close. Many players have reported multiple locations and events that can cause crashes and other problems. Here are some workarounds you can try if you encounter any problems.

Compatibility mode – Some gamers recommend using Windows XP compatibility mode to avoid crashes, if you want to try this you can find a tutorial here on how to set compatibility modes.

Prologue trapdoor crash – In the games first prologue level, you will come across a trapdoor at the back of a library. You will hear a scream and Jack will say “S**t that doesn’t sound good”. At this point, if you open the trapdoor and go down, the game may crash. To work around this problem you can try one of two things.

1 – Approach the trapdoor slowly, and climb down the ladder slowly. If that still fails, try climbing down slowly and jumping off at the end.

2 – Use the ladder crash fix executable available here. This is yet another fan-made patch for the game that fixes this particular bug. However, this version of the game had very low FPS on our system and it is not compatible with the unofficial patch. It also required the mouse sensitivity to be reset to 1. We recommend using this executable solely to get past this point in the game, then simply exit the game as soon as it auto-saves your progress and then switch back to the regular game executable.

Random crashes – Random crashes in the game can sometimes be mitigated by setting the game to run on only one CPU core. If you want to do this, you can download our batch file here. Simply place this file into the games “Engine” sub directory, with the “CoCMainWin32.exe” file (yes, the same one you found when using the unofficial patch). Now, run the batch file to start the game and make it run on only 1 CPU core. Don’t forget to update your shortcuts to point to this batch file too.

Vertical sync – Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth becomes unstable if you try to run it at more than 60 frames a second. If the game is crashing or glitching, try forcing vertical sync on using a tool like the Nvidia Control Panel. Make sure your monitor is set to 60hz refresh rate too. Forcing vertical sync on can also help eliminate graphical tearing in the game.

A GOG.com version of the game, which supposedly fixed several of the long-standing issues with the games stability, was released then mysteriously pulled a few months later after users complained of problems with save files getting corrupted, spooky.

Screenshots

Click on any screenshot to enlarge it.

 

Exploring the charming town of Innsmouth, in 1080p

Expect to explore lots of spooky places.

Realms of the Haunting


Genre: First Person Shooter, Survival Horror
Release Year: 1996
Developer: Gremlin Interactive
Publisher: Interplay
Age Rating: 12+
Playability Status: Perfect
Tested On: Windows 10 x64
Availability: Copyright retained - Still sold

Don’t want the hassle?

banner-180x150Get this game pre-fixed, DRM free and ready to play from GoG.com. Fully working or your money back.

Cutting edge PC gaming back in 1996 meant extravagant, multi CD games featuring gratuitous use of video clips. Realms of the Haunting is one such game from back then that has stood the test of time better than many. Playing as Adam Randall, you explore a mysterious haunted house looking for clues and fighting demons. The game was very well received at the time, though the clunky controls, primitive 3D graphics and grainy FMV clips haven’t aged well. If you’re willing to overlook these elements, however, there’s still an exciting adventure to be had here.

Installation

If you purchased the game from a digital download service such as GOG.com or Steam, everything should be ready to play as soon as you complete the download process. If you want to play using the original retail CD-ROMs, you will need to set things up and install the game manually. Realms of the Haunting is a DOS game, which means you are going to need the popular DOS simulator DOSBox in order to run it. You can download DOSBox here.  If you’ve not set up DOSBox on your PC already, simply follow this tutorial.

Once you have your working DOSBox configuration, put the first Realms of the Haunting CD into your computers optical drive. Assuming your optical drive is letter D:  in DOSBox, you simply need to type in the following commands in DOSBox to install the game, pressing the Enter key after each one of course:-

d:
Install

This will launch the games installation utility. Choose “Maximum installation” and leave the install path as the default. At the end of the installation process, the installer will ask you to configure your sound devices. On a real DOS PC this could be quite the headache, but in DOSBox it’s pretty easy. Choose the auto detect option which should then find your emulated sound device just fine. The installer will then ask if you want this device to play music too, you should choose “Yes”.

With the game installed, you can start it with the following commands:-

cd c:\intrplay\roth
realms

If everything went according to plan, the game will now launch. You can press “Escape” to skip the intro videos if you like, though you probably want to watch them at least once, both for nostalgia and background story purposes.

Tweaking visual quality

There are a handful of settings you can tweak to make the game look as crisp as possible. From the main menu, choose “Settings” and then “Screen Settings”. The first thing to do is set the screen size as big as possible. Do this by selecting the “Screen size” option and then pressing the right mouse button to increase the value to its maximum. If you increase this control all the way to the maximum, the game will use a more limited HUD (heads up display). In this mode your health is shown in the top left hand corner. If you prefer the more detailed HUD, which also shows your currently active weapon, decrease screen size one notch from the maximum.

When you have decided on the screen size, choose the “VESA 640×480” screen mode. This should change the screen mode and close the menu.

While you’re in the games settings menu, you might want to tweak the controls to your taste. If you are used to modern FPS games, you might find playing Realms of the Haunting a little jarring, as you can’t look around with the mouse. Even so, you might want to reconfigure the keys so that you can move around using the WASD key combination that most gamers are used to. You can change controls once you start playing too, just open the inventory (I) and then click on the floppy disc icon. This will bring up the main menu where you can load or save your game or change settings if necessary.

Everything is now set for your spooky adventure, so dim the lights and get set for some classic survival horror action.

Screenshots

Click on any screenshot to enlarge it

Those candlestick holders don’t look like they would pass a health and safety inspection.

Playing the game with the extended HUD.

Expect to solve puzzles as well as blast demons.

 

Dastardly DMCA Takedowns!

As many of you have noticed, several files on the site have disappeared or won’t download any more, while others are seemingly unaffected. The truth of the matter is that, on the 11th of October 2017, we were given 10 DMCA takedown notices from MEGA, our file hosting company.

Obviously we were pretty shocked at the time, who could have a problem with patches and installers for old games? While it is possible that some of our replacement installers occasionally contain a fragment of the old game in question, this is rare. Even so, this fragment on its own is not enough to play the game, so it seems pretty unlikely any copyright holder would have an issue with them.

The files that are affected include:-

 

  • Lego Racers 2 replacement installer – Written entirely by us, with no third party files included (now restored)
  • Midtown Madness patches – Entirely in the public domain (counterclaim filed)
  • Heroes of Might and Magic patches – Entirely public domain (now at least partially restored)
  • Silver replacement installer – Potentially contains infringing files (again, we’re not legal experts so we would have said that there was nothing here that couldn’t be considered fair use).

 

So, who filed the claim? All that we were given is a e-mail which points to an entity called legal-copyright.com, whose website claims to be a part of “Skywalker Digital Limited”. It would seem this is a Hong Kong based company that specialises in DMCA takedowns. It also seems highly likely, from reading their website, that this was simply an automated “bot” takedown notice that mistook our patches and replacement installers for actual copies of the game.

We filed counter claims for the files we knew were definitely not infringing. After doing this we heard nothing back from Mega themselves, or from Skywalker Digital Limited, but we have noticed that several of the files were silently restored at some point.

Thanks to everyone who wrote in letting us know which files were affected, I’ll aim to get the problem resolved as soon as possible and the files re-enabled.

Emperor – Battle for Dune


Genre: Real Time Strategy
Release Year: 2001
Developer: Westwood Studios
Publisher: EA Games
Age Rating: 12+
Playability Status: Perfect
Tested On: Windows 10 x64
Availability: Copyright retained - Out of print/unavailable

Frank Herbert’s seminal sci-fi novel Dune is set in a science fiction universe where computers are religiously outlawed due to an artificial intelligence led rebellion. Conventional warfare with guns, projectiles and explosives is obsolete due to the invention of impenetrable, wearable force-fields. It’s fair to say then, that most of the Dune computer games take some artistic license with the source material. Emperor – Battle for Dune is the sequel to the genre-defining Dune II. The game was generally well received, but criticised by some for failing to innovate or move the genre forward in any meaningful way. Nevertheless, if you hanker for some old-school RTS action and prefer the sci-fi setting of the desert planet Arrakis to the battlefields in Command and Conquer, then then Emperor – Battle for Dune is unlikely to disappoint.

Installation

Most of the problems with this game stem from its use of an outdated copy protection mechanism. Your first challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to get the game to install. Firstly, try the regular way, that is, placing the games disc into your PCs DVD drive and following the on-screen prompts. If the installer doesn’t start automatically, browse to the disc in Computer/This PC and run the “AUTORUN” or “AUTORUN.exe” file manually. Note that there’s no reason to install the Westwood online components and the online registration no longer works.

If the installation goes okay, then you can proceed to the section that covers patching the game. If not, proceed to the alternative installation instructions below.

Alternative installation instructions

If the installation process won’t start, try this fixed installer that was released by Westwood Studios themselves. First of all, visit this page and download the “EMPEROR_INSTALL_FIX_1.0.rar” file.

The file is a .rar archive, which means you will need to extract the contents. The free 7-Zip program can do this for you, you can download that here. If you have never used 7-Zip before, there are tutorials for it here.

Once you’ve extracted the .rar file, you should see three files, EMPEROR.EXE, EMPEROR.TXT and SETUP.EXE. We will need those in a moment, but first, insert your installation CD if you haven’t already, then browse to the CD in computer/This PC.

On the Emperor CD, you should see a folder called “INSTALL”. Copy this folder to any convenient location on your PC. The instructions given in the “EMPEROR.TXT” file suggest the Desktop, but anywhere will do.

Once the folder is copied, go back to the files you extracted from the .rar archive and copy the SETUP.EXE file into the SETUP folder you copied from the CD-ROM, overwriting the file that’s already in there.

If your computer has more than one optical drive (including virtual or emulated optical drives), you must ensure that the Emperor install CD is in the optical drive which has the first drive letter alphabetically. If you need to check and change drive letters, see this tutorial.

Once you’ve checked your drive letters, run the “SETUP.EXE” file you copied over previously. If the installation now starts, great, skip ahead to “My game is finally installing!”. Unfortunately, on some systems the installer will now fail and display this error.

 

 

In this instance, you need to install the dgVoodoo2 wrapper package into the “SETUP” folder (the same one you copied the replacement “SETUP.EXE” into). Follow the tutorial here if you’ve never used dgVoodoo2 before. Since the installer is using DirectX, use the dgVoodoo2 .dll files from the MS sub-folder.

Once that’s done, run the SETUP.EXE program again and it should now work without errors.

My game is finally installing!

Now that the installer is working, follow the on-screen prompts to install the game. Note that there is no reason to install the Westwood online components and the online registration since they no longer work. Once installation is complete, there’s one more thing you need to do.

To finish up the installation, go back to the files you extracted from the .rar archive and find the “EMPEROR.EXE” file. Copy this into the games installation directory (C:\WESTWOOD\Emperor by default), overwriting the existing file that is in there.

With that, the installation process is complete and you can proceed to “Patching”.

Patching

Before you start your campaign of intergalactic warfare, you will want to install the latest patch. There were several patches released for the game, but you only need to install the latest one. Simply download the patch from this page and run it, the patching process should then be automatic.

With the games official patch installed, you can try to run the game. However, on many systems the game will crash before starting up. Don’t worry, you simply need to download and install the PC retro-gamers friend dgVoodoo2. Follow our tutorial here if you are unfamiliar with this tool. Emperor – Battle for Dune is a DirectX game, so use the dgVoodoo2 files from the MS sub-folder.

Copy protection

As we said in the installation instructions, most of the problems with this game stem not from the game itself, but its outdated copy protection. If you’ve installed the latest patch and dgVoodoo2 and you cannot start the game, the issue is likely to be with the games copy protection.

The way around this is to find a version of the game with the copy protection removed. Sadly, due to copyright law we cannot link to files like this. We can tell you however, that the cracked executable we used was from the hacking group MYTH and the supplied executable file (Game.exe) had the MD5 file hash of 480265ACC58FE4ECC53362C18AB47104.

As always, be careful poking around in the seedier parts of the internet. Ensure your browser is up to date, don’t run an administrator account and always virus check anything you download.

Tweaking graphics settings

Graphical settings must be configured from the main menu before starting a game. From the main menu, choose “Options” and then “Graphics”.

Here you will find a graphical quality setting. Drag the slider all the way to “Custom” and then click on the “Advanced Options” button.

You will now be able to tweak the individual graphics settings. Since this is an old game, you can put all the settings to maximum quality, even if you have a PC that’s relatively modest by modern standards.

At the bottom of these options are the screen resolution options. Emperor – Battle for Dune is a 4:3 aspect ratio (non-widescreen) game and you won’t be able to choose widescreen resolutions. You should usually choose the screen resolution that is closest to your monitors native resolution. The game should appear with black borders at either side of the screen. If it does not, the graphics will be distorted. If you’re running the game using dgVoodoo2, you should open the dgVoodoo control panel (dgVoodooCpl.exe) and make sure the scaling mode is set to “Stretched, keep aspect ratio”.

If you’re planning to play the game on your HDTV rather than computer monitor, you might want to choose a lower screen resolution since the games text is very small when running in higher resolutions.

Multiplayer and other notes

The internet multiplayer service for Emperor – Battle for Dune shut down a long time ago. However, you should still be able to play over your local network with other PCs in your home by selecting LAN mode. It may also be possible to use services like  GameRanger or Evolve to play over the internet, though we haven’t tried this.

When using dgVoodoo2, you can use some in-game overlay tools such as Nvidia Geforce Experience. For some reason we could not get the Evolve in-game overlay to work with the game and trying the Steam overlay caused the game to freeze.

There is a map editor and various mods for the game available here.

Troubleshooting

Game settings lost on exit – If you find you have to reconfigure the graphical settings each time you start the game, try running the game as administrator and then changing the settings. You do not need to run the game as administrator every time, only when you want to make a permanent change to the games settings.

Screenshots

Click on any screenshot to enlarge it.

 

The Atreides duke it out in high definition with their arch enemies, the Harkonnen.

House Ordos amasses its army (800×600 resolution)

Asterix The Gallic War


Genre: Action-adventure
Release Year: 2000
Developer: Sourcery Development Ltd
Publisher: Infogrames
Age Rating: Everyone
Playability Status: Perfect
Tested On: Windows 10 x64
Availability: Copyright retained - Out of print/unavailable

Everyone’s favourite Gaul and his portly sidekick feature in this curious mix of strategy and arcade action. In the game, you will lead a campaign to recapture Gaul from the pesky Romans by playing a simple strategy game and using lots of magic potion. The game also features arcade like sections where you will get to test your brawn and reflexes rather than your brain.

Installation

In order to install the game, place the disc in your computers optical drive. Dismiss or ignore any autorun prompts that appear, then browse to the CD in Computer/This PC. Locate the Asterixstart or Asterixstart.exe file, right click on it and choose “Run as administrator”. You then simply need to click the install button and follow the on-screen prompts.

During the process the installer will offer to install DirectX 7, there’s no need for this as the version on your PC will already be more up to date.

Running the game

Before you can start your campaign against Rome’s legions, you need to get a fix or two installed. Start by using File Explorer to open the games installation directory, that is “C:\Program Files (x86)\Infogrames\Asterix” by default. Once there, open the “Exec” sub-folder. Open another File Explorer window and open/explore the Asterix CD in Computer/This PC. On the root of the CD there should be a file called “ASTERIXSTART.EXE” (it may appear simply as ASTERIXSTART depending on how you have your File Explorer configured). Now, copy the “ASTERIXSTART.EXE” file into the Asterix\Exec folder that you opened earlier.

Now, follow the tutorial here to install DGVoodoo2 into the Asterix\Exec folder (the same folder you copied ASTERIXSTART into). Remember this is a DirectX game so you will need the DGVoodoo2 files from within the MS sub-folder.

Now, run the “ASTERIXSTART” program from within the Exec folder. Click on “Settings” and make sure that Video Device is set to “dgVoodoo DirectX Wrapper and that “Resolution” is set to “640x480x16bpp”. If you’ve configured everything correctly, the window should look like the one shown below.

 

 

Click on OK when you are done. The game is now configured and ready to play. To start the game, you need to run the ASTERIXSTART program and then click “Play”.

At this point you might want to take a moment to update the games Start menu shortcut, which will be pointing to the wrong executable. Search for “Asterix” on the Start menu or search bar to find the games shortcut. Now, right click on this shortcut and choose “Open file location”.

This should open a File Explorer window showing the shortcut. Find the Asterix shortcut in the window (ignoring the various readme files and website links). Right click on this shortcut and choose “Properties”. A window should appear similar to the one shown below.

 

 

You now need to edit the “Target” box, at the top of the window. Change it so that the shortcut is pointing to “ASTERIXSTART.EXE” rather than “ASTERIX.EXE”, you can simply click on the box and type in the extra characters yourself. Once done, hit “Apply”. Windows User Account Control will prompt you to confirm the change, do so, then click “OK” to close the Window. The game is now fixed and ready to play.

Configuring controllers

While the main game can be played using the mouse, you might want to play the arcade sections using the controller. Luckily, the game supports controllers as decently as any game from this era. Start the game and from the main menu, choose “Options” and then “Configure controls”. You can then assign the buttons on your controller (we used an Xbox One controller for testing) however you like.

If you prefer to play from the comfort of your couch, then get yourself a copy of that essential PC gaming utility, Xpadder. Below is a picture of our Xpadder profile for the game.

 

 

By assigning Escape and Enter to the back and start buttons, and the arrow keys to the directional pad on the controller we can now pause the game and navigate the menus. It’s possible to navigate around the games map using the control stick, though the in-game prompts are all configured for the mouse. By binding the mouse buttons to the shoulder buttons we at least make this a little easier to understand.

Note that in our profile we have the left mouse button bound to the right shoulder button, and vice versa. This is because when using a joypad, we find the right hand button more natural to use as a primary button. This makes the in-game prompts a little confusing though, so feel free to switch it around if you prefer.

Troubleshooting

Failed to get mouse error – This error occurs if you try to start the game without having updated the shortcut to point to ASTERIXSTART.EXE. Go back to the start of the guide and make sure to copy ASTERIXSTART.EXE from the CD and update the shortcut to point to it.

Screenshots

Click on any screenshot to enlarge it.

 

Obelix exploring the Alps

 

Strategising with Getafix

Heroes of Might and Magic


Genre: Strategy
Release Year: 1996
Developer: New World Computing
Publisher: New World Computing
Age Rating: Everyone
Playability Status: Fully playable (minor issues only)
Tested On: Windows 10 x64
Availability: Copyright retained - Still sold

Heroes of Might and Magic is, as you might expect, a game about commanding heroes, who use both might and magic to fight against other heroes. These other heroes look the same as your heroes but crucially they prefer a different coloured flag. Actually, despite the games title, when it comes to the actual fighting, your heroes are nowhere to be seen on the battlefield and it’s left to you to command the rank and file soldiers to victory instead. I suppose “cowards of hiding in a tent and occasionally casting spells” didn’t have the same ring to it. Not that the heroes notable absence from the battlefield makes the game any less fun. Make no mistake, this easy to learn strategy game is compelling and engrossing and was a huge hit back in 1995, kick-starting a series that now has no less than seven instalments.

A note about different versions of the game

Heroes of Might and Magic was a very successful game and was re-released several times over the years. The very first edition, launched in 1995, ran on the old DOS operating system. If this is the version of the game you have, you will need to follow our DOSBox tutorials to get it working.

The following year, there was a re-release of the game for the then-new Windows 95 operating system. This version of the game also included an enhanced CD audio soundtrack, so it can be considered the better version of the game. The original Windows 95 edition of the game has a 16 bit installer and because of this it won’t install on more modern, 64 bit versions of Windows.

The Windows version of the game was re-released several times, as part of several box sets. Specifically, we tested the version included in the “Heroes of Might and Magic – Complete Edition” box set, which is available as a large collectors set with various goodies. Obviously there are other compilations released over the years that include the game too and we’ve no way of checking them all, but it’s likely that most sets include the Windows 95 version since it’s considerably easier to get working on a modern PC.

There’s also a re-release of the game by our friends over at GoG.com. However, while we’d usually recommend the GoG version without hesitation, it turns out that the GoG.com version of Heroes of Might and Magic is actually a re-packaging of the original DOS version which runs through a bundled version of DOSBox. This is disappointing, given that the Windows 95 version with its CD quality soundtrack is unquestionably the better version of the game.

Installation

Unfortunately, the earliest versions of this game used a 16 bit installer and won’t install on more modern versions of Windows. If you have one of these early releases, you could try installing it on an older PC then simply moving it over to your new PC on a USB stick. The game doesn’t seem to create any registry keys, so this will probably work.  An easier method is to simply obtain a more recent re-release of the game. The “Heroes of Might and Magic collection”, still available on Amazon at time of publication, features the game with a more modern installer that will work on more recent PCs. Don’t discard your original CD-ROM just yet though, there’s an important difference between the original and the later re-releases that we’ll come to in a moment.

During installation you may be asked if you wish to install DirectX. Obviously the version on the CD/DVD is out of date, so you should decline. You may also be greeted by a “System Requirements Tool” that thinks you do not have an OS or that you don’t have the correct version of DirectX, or enough memory to run the game. All of these errors can be ignored. Finally, the installer might offer to install a tool called “Gameupdate”. This tool was designed to automatically check for a new version of the game, however it hasn’t worked in many years so can safely be skipped.

After installation you may find that the desktop shortcut is not created correctly. You can easily re-create this yourself if necessary, simply create a new shortcut and point it to the games installation directory, by default that is “C:\Program Files (x86)\3DO\Heroes of Might and Magic\HEROES.EXE”

Patching

During our research we found two patches for the game. The first was an official patch while the other was simply labelled “unofficial”. The official patch would not install due to it being a 16 bit installer program. The unofficial patch had almost no documentation with it, but seems to install and work just fine. If you want to try it, you can download it here.

Fixing the games soundtrack

You might recall at the start of the article we told you that the Windows 95 edition of the game had a CD soundtrack. If you happen to pick this game up as part of a compilation, it is likely that it has been placed on a DVD disc and the CD soundtrack simply discarded. That’s a shame as the high quality soundtrack definitely adds to the game. Fortunately we can do something about that. First of all, we need to download and install the _inmm.dll compatibility tool, if it’s not on your system already. Click here to learn all about this tool and what it does for old games with CD soundtracks.

Secondly, you will need the missing CD audio tracks. You can grab those here. Copy them to the games installation directory (C:\Program Files (x86)\3DO\Heroes of Might and Magic by default) in the sub-folder “Music”.

Now, follow our _inmm.dll tutorial from step 2 onwards, to patch the games executable and create your _inmm.ini file that points to the music files you downloaded above.

If you did everything correctly, you should now be able to start the game and enjoy the full CD soundtrack too. There are a few settings you may need to tweak in-game, but we’ll come to those in a moment.

Configuring the game

Before leading your armies into battle, there are a small number of in-game settings you may wish to tweak. Start Heroes of Might and Magic from the Start menu or desktop shortcut and then start a new game, any kind of game will do. If the game is running in full screen mode, press F4 to toggle it into windowed mode.

At the top of the games window you will notice several menus. First of all, on the “Display” menu, set the games resolution to the highest setting available, that is 1280×1024. This will make the game easier to see on a modern display. Heroes Of Might and Magic uses hand drawn graphics (sprites) rather than 3D polygons, so actually increasing the games resolution makes scant difference to the graphical quality. If  you play the game in full screen mode, the screen resolution will reset to 640×480.

The Control Panel menu has some further options you may wish to configure. The picture below shows the available options.

 

 

Music and Sound menus – In these menus you can set the volume of both the music and the sound effects. If the game’s not making any sounds, check this menu and make sure that the sounds/music are not set to off. If you turn music on and the soundtrack does not play, try choosing another volume setting. Note that the volume setting for the CD soundtrack does not work correctly when using _inmm.dll.

CD Stereo – With the game successfully patched to use _inmm.dll, you should be able to turn this option on.

Troubleshooting and known issues

CD audio soundtrack not playing – If the CD soundtrack does not play, you need to access the Control Panel menu and then choose “Music” and change the volume. If this doesn’t work immediately, try changing the volume again.

CD audio soundtrack volume  sometimes goes quiet – The CD soundtrack has a habit of changing volume while you play. This is probably not intentional and just a side effect of the _inmm.dll patching process. We do not have a workaround for this bug at present.

Full screen mode causes the game to crash – If putting the game into full screen mode causes it to crash, try installing the dgVoodoo2 tool into the games directory.

Game becomes sluggish when a prompt window appears – Sometimes the game gets stuck momentarily after a message appears and requires you to click “OK” to continue. Usually this problem goes away after a minute or two so don’t panic.

Game opens in a very tiny window – If the game opens in a absurdly small window, try pressing the F4 key to put the game into full screen. You can then either play in full screen or press F4 again to return to a (hopefully sensibly sized) window.

Screenshots

Click on any screenshot to enlarge it.

No boobs in this Baywatch.

Quick, while the dragon isn’t looking!

 

Civilization III Complete


Genre: Strategy
Release Year: 2004
Developer: Firaxis Games
Publisher: Atari
Age Rating: 12+
Playability Status: Perfect
Tested On: Windows 10 x64
Availability: Copyright retained - Still sold

Another entry into the ever-popular politician/dictator/god simulator series, Civilization III released to critical acclaim in 2001 and went on to sell millions of copies. Since we’ve covered Civilization II and IV, it seems only right that we take a look at the third game in the series. Fortunately, this one isn’t too difficult to get running. The version of the game we’re looking at here is the “Complete” edition, which was released in 2004 and includes the two expansion packs that were previously released for the game. This version is also the version that comes in the popular Civilization Chronicles box set.

Installation

The game should install just fine from its original retail CDs. Simply place the first CD in your computers optical drive and follow the on-screen prompts. If the games installer does not start automatically, browse to the CD in Computer/This PC and run the “Autorun.exe” file manually. During the installation process, you will be asked if you wish to install Gamespy Arcade. You can skip this step since the Gamespy Arcade service shut down several years ago.

If you are installing the game from the Steam digital download service, simply use the Steam client to install the game as normal.

Civilization 3 saves game data and configuration files to its installation directory. On more modern versions of Windows, this can be a problem due to the default security settings prohibiting apps from writing data to the program files folder. To work around this, either install the game to another directory (e.g C:\Games) or see the troubleshooting section under “Problems saving games and configuration files”.

Patching

If you’re using the original CD version of the game, you should download and install the latest patch before starting to play. The latest patch is 1.29 and you can obtain it here.

The patch is downloaded as a zip file. To install it, simply open the zip file and run the single, executable file that lurks within. Answer “Yes” if the installer prompts you to overwrite a read-only file.

For the Steam digital download version, patching is automatic so no further action is required after installing the game.

Playing in Widescreen

Unlike many PC games, Civilization III doesn’t really have a host of graphical options to tweak. There is one small tweak you may wish to perform, however. By default, the game is locked to a fixed resolution. If you have a modern monitor, you will probably want to play the game in widescreen mode, rather than have black borders around the game or have the games graphics stretched and distorted.

To play in widescreen, first of all make sure you have started the game at least once since installing it on your PC, just getting as far as the title screen should be perfectly fine. Now we need to edit a configuration file, so open Computer/This PC and browse to the games folder which can be found by default in one of two locations:-

  • C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\SteamApps\common\Sid Meier’s Civilization III Complete\Conquests (for the Steam version)
  • C:\Program Files (x86)\Firaxis Games\Civilization III Complete\Conquests (for the retail version)

 

Next, find the file called “conquests.ini” and open it in Notepad or your favourite text editor. If you’re not familiar with the process of editing configuration files, you can find a beginners tutorial here.

With the conquests.ini file open in your editor, scroll to the bottom of the file and simply add the following line

KeepRes=1

Now, save the file and start the game again. If you find you cannot save the newly modified conquests.ini file, see the troubleshooting section under “Problems saving games and configuration files”. The game now will run in whatever resolution you have your desktop set to, which should, of course, be your monitors optimal screen resolution. The games cut-scenes will still run in low resolution, but the game itself will be in glorious widescreen.

Troubleshooting

Problems saving games and configuration files – Like many older games, Civilization III stores its save game files and various configuration files in its installation directory. If you installed the game into the program files or program files (x86) folders, you may find that the default Windows security settings prevent the game from saving any progress. To fix this problem, set the permissions on the “Civilization III Complete” folder so that your user account has full control/read write permissions. You can find a tutorial on how to configure folder permissions here.

By default, the games installation directory is placed at one of two possible locations.

  • C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\SteamApps\common\Sid Meier’s Civilization III Complete (for the Steam version)
  • C:\Program Files (x86)\Firaxis Games\Civilization III Complete (for the retail version)

 

Permissions should be set automatically on the Steam version, but the retail version will need the folder permissions to be set if it is installed in the default directory.

Screenshot

Click on the screenshot to enlarge it.

 

As always, finding new ways to kill your enemies is a big part of the game.

 

Civilization IV


Genre: Strategy
Release Year: 2005
Developer: Firaxis Games
Publisher: 2K Games
Age Rating: Everyone
Playability Status: Perfect
Tested On: Windows 10 x64
Availability: Copyright retained - Still sold

Desert Island Discs is a radio show broadcast here in the UK on the poshest of stations, BBC Radio 4. In the show, various celebrities and politicians choose which particular gramophone recordings they would choose to be stranded with if they found themselves on a desert island. Should Radio 4 ever decide videogames were culturally relevant and subsequently launch “Desert Island Games”, then it’s a fairly safe bet that Sid Meier’s Civilization series would feature frequently. In the fourth instalment of the game, the rules are remixed and the graphics are tarted up, but the engrossing turn based strategy remains as compelling as ever.

Installation

The game should install just fine from its original optical media discs. Simply place the first disc in your computers optical drive and follow the on-screen prompts. If installation does not start automatically, browse to the CD in Computer/This PC and run the “Autorun.exe” file manually. At the end of the installation process, the installer may offer to install Xfire. Unfortunately the Xfire service shut down some time ago, so simply skip this part of the process.

If you’re installing the Steam version, installation is automatic and managed from your Steam library from within the Steam program itself.

Patching

Before starting your quest for world domination, you should install the latest patch. Users who purchased the game on Steam do not need to install any patches, as the Steam service itself keeps the game fully up to date. For those of us playing using the original retail version, you should download and install patch 1.74. You can download the patch here.

Once the patch has downloaded, simply run it and follow the on-screen prompts.

Uncivilized copy protection

The retail DVD versions of Civilization 4 are protected with a copy protection system known as Safedisc. Unfortunately, citing security concerns, Microsoft removed support for Safedisc protected games both in Windows 10 and, retrospectively through Windows update, in Windows 7 and 8 as well. Unfortunately this means that in order to play the retail version on a modern PC, you will need to obtain a de-protected or cracked version of the game. Due to copyright laws we can’t link to this file directly, we can tell you however that the cracked version of the game we obtained was by a group called “Reloaded” and had an MD5 hash of AE3B47863E7D88636A5C87D90643E845. As always, take extra care on the shadier parts of the internet when looking for these files.

When you obtain the cracked Civilization 4 executable, you simply need to replace the existing one. Use Windows Explorer or File Explorer to browse to the games installation directory, by default that is “C:\Program Files (x86)\Firaxis Games\Sid Meier’s Civilization 4”. Find “Civilization4” or “Civilization4.exe” and rename it (e.g to “old”). Now, copy over the de-protected Civilization4 file. Once it is in place, you can start the game from the Start menu or screen normally.

Graphics and other settings

Civilization 4 isn’t a game that’s big on fancy graphical effects, but that’s no reason why it shouldn’t look as pretty as possible. From the games main menu, choose “Options”, then on the window that appears, choose the “Graphics” tab. The window shown below should then be displayed.

 

 

Some settings here are down to personal preference, for instance “Show Health Bars”, while other settings affect the visual quality of the game. For the most part you can simply set every setting to the maximum. You should set the following options as shown below for maximum visual quality:-

Globe View Buildings Disabled – Deselected

Full-screen Mode – Selected (unless you wish to play in windowed mode)

High Detail Terrain – Selected

You can also set the games screen resolution from this window. Generally you should set this to the highest available option. If you use a widescreen resolution (such as 1080p, 1920×1080) some of the games cut-scenes may appear a little stretched, but the game itself should look fine.

Troubleshooting

“Please login with administrator privileges and try again” or similar error when starting the game – This is the games copy protection failing to initialise, you will need to find a crack/hacked version of the game or purchase the Steam edition instead.

Multiplayer and other notes

It is possible to play Civilization 4 in multiplayer mode, though the services that facilitated this originally have long since shut down. 2K games very generously started a program whereby customers could get a free Steam key for their copy of Civilisation 4. Since the Steam gaming service includes Multiplayer functionality, this meant that Civilization 4 is fully playable online again. You can find more details of this offer here. This program is due to shut down in June 2017, so hurry if you want to take advantage of it.

The game is also compatible with direct IP connections and therefore compatible with the Evolve gaming service, however we haven’t tried multiplayer using this program so we cannot comment on how well it works.

Save games for Civilization 4 can be found in C:\Users\(your username)\AppData\Roaming\, or, if you’re running the Steam version, in C:\Users\(your username)\Documents\My Games\Sid Meier's Civilization IV\Saves\single.

Screenshots

civilizations might start out primitive…

…but they soon find high-tech ways to kill each other.

 

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