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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.

 

Freelancer


Genre: Flight Simulator
Release Year: 2003
Developer: Digital Anvil
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Age Rating: 12+
Playability Status: Perfect
Tested On: Windows 10 x64
Availability: Copyright retained - Out of print/unavailable

Space, the final frontier. Huge, desolate, empty. The perfect setting for a videogame? Lots of people seem to think so. In this space trading and exploration game you get to be your very own Han Solo and fly around the galaxy, completing missions, trading commodities and combating mysterious aliens. Despite failing to live up to the hype on its original 2003 release, the game was generally well received by critics and fans alike and is kept alive today by a small but passionate group of players and modders.

Installation

Installing the game is easy, just place your Freelancer game disc into 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 Setup.exe file manually. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t appear to be available on any digital download services, so if you want to play you will need a copy of the original retail CD.

Patching

For a game of such ambitious scope, Freelancer has surprisingly few official patches. Just one such patch was released for the game and this contains only some basic fixes for multiplayer mode. Even so, it can’t hurt to install it, so download it here and install it by simply running the executable file from inside the zip archive.

With the patch installed, the next step is to fix the games copy protection. Unfortunately Freelancer uses an outdated form of copy protection (Safedisc) that is incompatible with Windows 10, and Windows 7 and 8 with the latest security patches installed. Unfortunately we’re not able to link you to patches that remove copy protection for legal reasons, though you may wish to check for a workaround on the site which hosts the patch we linked to above. As always, take extra precautions when downloading any kind of cracked or hacked executables from the shadier parts of the internet.

The last step is optional but highly recommended. There are a number of fan-made patches and fixes that aim to correct problems that Micrsoft/Digital Anvil never got around to fixing. According to our research, the most commonly used of these is the Freelancer Quick Fix patch. You can obtain this patch here. To install the patch, simply run it and follow the on-screen prompts.

That’s all that is required for basic functionality, we will have a look at some optional extras later in the guide.

Tweaking visual quality

With Freelancer being such an old game, you should be able to set all the in-game settings to their highest quality without degrading the games performance. Start by loading the game and from the main menu, choose “Options” and then “General”. On this menu you should be able to set the games resolution. Choose whatever suits your monitor the best. Note that Freelancer does not support widescreen screen resolutions, though there is a workaround that we’ll show you later in the guide that can enable them. When setting a resolution, be sure to choose a 32 bit colour depth mode. These modes always end with “x 32”, so as long as you see that, you’re all set.

With screenmodes configured, go back to the games options menu and choose “Performance”. On this screen you can simply make sure every setting is turned on and/or turned to the maximum. You’re now done configuring all the visual settings in the game.

Playing in widescreen

If you want to play in widescreen there’s a patch you can download and install that will enable this relatively painlessly. The drawback is that some multiplayer servers may incorrectly identify this patch as some sort of cheat enabling mod and therefore eject you from any games you try to join. If you’re only interested in checking out the single player campaign though, there shouldn’t be an issue.

To install and activate the widescreen patch, first make sure the game is closed, then follow the steps below.

Download this zip file. (Link broken?, let me know here).

Inside the zip file you will find two folders, “EXE” and “JFLP”. These need to be copied to the Freelancer game folder (C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Games\Freelancer by default).

Once the files are copied, open the “EXE” sub-folder within the Freelancer game folder. In this folder you need to find a file called “dacom.ini”. Once you locate this file, open it in Notepad or your favourite text editor. If you’re unfamiliar with editing configuration files, there’s a tutorial here. Remember you may need administrator access to write the file, you can get that by searching for “Notepad” on the Start menu/search bar and then right clicking on it and choosing “Run as administrator”. Then, use the “File” menu and choose “Open…” and browse to the dacom.ini file.

In the dacom.ini file, find the section that begins “[Libraries]”. Browse to the end of this section and add the line “jflp.dll” (do not copy the quotation marks).

Save the file and restart the game. You should now be able to select widescreen screen resolutions from the General options menu.

If you ever want to disable the patch (e.g to play multiplayer) simply remove the “jflp.dll” line from the dacom.ini file.

Tweaking sound quality

There aren’t an awful lot of sound quality settings to configure with this game. One thing we do recommend doing is turning off the 3D sound option. Freelancer uses the now defunct EAX audio standard and the 3D sound mode is reported to cause issues on more modern machines. Turn it off by going to the “Options” menu and then choosing “Sound” and then deselecting “3D Sound”.

The exception to this is if you have a Creative Labs sound card that supports ALchemy. In this case, activate Freelancer with ALchemy in the usual way (ALchemy fully supports Freelancer and should detect the game automatically). Then, run the game and make sure 3D sound is turned on.

You now have everything you need to play the basic game, but read on for some more interesting content you may want to install.

Mods and the Freelancer Mod Manager

Freelancer is another PC game that’s seen extensive mods and community created content. If you’re interested in exploring some of this content, you should start by installing the Freelancer Mod Manager. You can download the mod manager here.

To install the mod manager, just double click on the downloaded executable file and follow the on-screen prompts.

Once the mod manager is installed, you can download mods and simply double click on the “flmod” file you download. It will then be added to the list of mods in Freelancer Mod Manger. To activate a mod, start Freelancer Mod Manager then just select the mod in the list and click “Activate mod”. The picture below shows our mod manager with one mod activated.

 

 

Freelancer Texture Pack

One mod that comes highly recommended is the Freelancer HD Textures mod. This mod upgrades the textures in the game for better visual quality. You can grab this mod here. Just double click on it to install it then activate it in your Freelancer Mod Manager.

Multiplayer and other notes

The original multiplayer servers for Freelancer closed down many years ago. However, it’s possible to use servers run and maintained by fans of the game. If you’re interested in trying this, there’s a guide here.

You can find all sorts of Freelancer related downloads on this page.

Somewhat unusually for a space combat game, Freelancer was designed to be played with keyboard and mouse and has no support for game controllers or joysticks. We recommend sticking to the keyboard and mouse for this game as the control system is so tightly designed for this that using a gamepad is more hassle than it is worth.

Save games for Freelancer can be found in your Documents folder under “My Games\Freelancer”.

Troubleshooting

Audio issues – Problems with the game audio can usually be fixed by turning off 3D sound from the Sound menu (select the “Options” menu and then “Sound”).

Missing mouse pointer in game menus – This can happen if you’re using some kind of in-game overlay such as Steam or Evolve. Disable the overlay to correct the problem.

Screenshots

Click on any screenshot to enlarge it.

 

Taking on a battle cruiser in the games original aspect ratio.

 

Cruising through space in 1080p with the widescreen mod.

 

Project Eden


Genre: Action-adventure
Release Year: 2001
Developer: Core Design
Publisher: Eidos Interactive
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-patched, DRM free and ready to play from GoG.com. Fully working or your money back.

Project Eden, Core Design’s dystopian cyberpunk adventure, managed to fly under most gamers radars when it was released back in 2001. In the game, you take control of four UPA agents as they infiltrate the sinister sounding Death Heads criminal gang. Gameplay is focused around cooperative play and puzzle solving, rather than just pure gunplay. Project Eden may lack the fast action that third person action games are often known for but it more than makes up for this with some cleverly designed puzzles. More than a decade on, it remains an interesting title to revisit, especially if you can bring a friend along for the ride.

Installation

To install the game from the original retail CD, simply place the disc in your computers optical drive and then browse to the CD in Computer/This PC and run the “Setup.exe” file manually. The installer will ask you what type of installation you wish to perform. Choose “Custom”, then install every available option. Towards the end of the installation process you will be asked if you want to install DirectX 8 and Gamespy Arcade. You should decline both of these options. The version of DirectX on the game CD is outdated and Gamespy Arcade is a multiplayer service that’s now sadly defunct.

To install the GoG.com digital download version, simply download the installation file from your GoG.com game library and run it, following all on screen prompts.

Patching

Before you start the game, you should install the latest patch for the game. Patch 1.02 can be downloaded from PC Gaming Wiki here. The file is downloaded as a zip file, simply open the zip file then run the ProjectEdenPatch.exe file inside. The patching process should then be automatic, simply follow the on-screen prompts. Note that if you have installed the GoG.com version, this patch is already included and doesn’t need installing.

With the game installed and patched, you can start it from the Start menu or search bar by searching for “Project Eden” and clicking the icon that appears.

Tweaking visual quality

UPA agents should be aware that there are a number of settings you can tweak within the game so that you can get the best visual quality from the game. Start Project Eden and from the main menu choose “Configure” and then “Graphics”. The options shown below will then appear.

 

project-eden-graphics-settings

 

Many of the settings should automatically configure, but make sure the following settings are configured as shown below.

Colour Depth – High.

Screen Resolution – Set this to match your monitor. You can use 16:9 or 16:10 (widescreen) resolutions if you prefer.

Depth Quality – Z24 S8 Best.

Engine – Hardware.

Texture Detail – High.

Texture Filtering – Anisotropic.

Character Effects – High.

Aspect Ratio – This is an interesting one. You might be tempted to choose “16:9 Letterbox” or “Anamorphic”, but this isn’t the correct setting for widescreen. Instead, leave this setting at 4:3 to play in widescreen. The Letterbox and Anamorphic settings will stretch normally non-widescreen resolutions into widescreen. They are possibly left over from the Playstation 2 version, or for users who wanted to play in widescreen on low-end PCs back when the game was first released.

Tweaking audio quality

There are a handful of settings relating to audio quality within the game too. To access them, go to the games main menu and choose “Configure” and then “Sound”. The options shown below will then appear.

 

project-eden-sound-settings

 

On this screen, make sure that “Output Sample Rate” is set to “44100 Hz” and “Software 3D Quality” and “Sample Quality” are both set to “High”. Project Eden uses the now defunct EAX hardware accelerated audio standard which unfortunately is unavailable on Windows Vista and later versions of Windows. If you’re lucky enough to have a Creative sound card, you can use ALchemy to restore hardware sound mixing and hardware reverb. To do this, simply exit the game and then add Project Eden using the ALchemy configuration tool (the games default installation directory is “C:\Program Files (x86)\Core Design\Project Eden\Eden.exe”). Once you’ve done this, start the game again and go back into the sound options. You should then be able to choose Hardware sound mixing and Reverb (Reverb Sound Card – Hardware). This may marginally increase sound quality over the standard software output.

With graphics and sound configured to their optimal settings, you can now start your adventure.

Multiplayer

Project Eden is even more fun when you can take a friend along to help control the games four characters. If you have two PCs and two copies of the game, it’s actually quite easy to play across your home network. You simply need to know your home PCs internal or local IP address. Follow this article to discover it.

Now, on your first PC, start the game and choose “Multiplayer” and then “Internet TCP/IP”. The options shown below will then appear.

 

project-eden-multiplayer-menu

 

Under “This Address” at the bottom of the options, make sure the number given matches your internal IP address. If it does not, click on “Next Address”. Once you have a match, click on “Accept”. This will create a game on your first PC.

You should now be able to go to another PC in your house and join the game by starting Project Eden on that PC, choosing “Multiplayer” and then simply clicking on the game in the list. If that doesn’t work, try clicking on “Connect Address” and typing in the IP address of your other PC (the one hosting the game) manually. If you still can’t join the game, try alt-tabbing out of the game (on both PCs) and checking that Windows Firewall is not asking for permission to connect.

It may also be possible to play over the internet using a tool such as Evolve, but we haven’t tested this.

Troubleshooting

Failed to start DirectInput (DirectX8) or find a DX8 compatible input devices – If you get this error message when trying to start the game, a simple reboot of your PC should cure it.

Problems saving games – Like many older games, Project Eden stores its save game 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 SAVED GAMES sub-folder within the Project Eden game folder (C:\Program Files (x86)\Core Design\Project Eden by default) so that your user account has full control/read write permissions. You can find a tutorial on how to configure folder permissions here.

Screenshot

 

project-eden-1080p

The games opening moments in 1080p. Click on the picture to enlarge.

 

Little Big Adventure 2 is FREE in the GoG.com Monstrous Fall Sale

Our friends over at GoG.com are having another awesome sale on their lovely DRM Free games! You can grab yourself a whole load of classic, modern and indie titles at reduced prices. Best of all, you can get the classic action adventure title Little Big Adventure 2 (Twinsen’s Odyssey) completely free. Remember, all GoG.com games are DRM free, meaning you never have to worry about your internet going down, activation failing or companies going out of business. You buy the game and it’s yours forever!

Head on over to this page to snag your free copy of Little Big Adventure 2. While you’re there, why not check out some of the other bargains in the sale? The lovely, retro themed farming simulator Stardew Valley is 25% off, for instance. Alternatively, how about the super absorbing space simulator FTL (faster than light)? That’s reduced by a whopping 74%.

So, what are you waiting for? Go grab your free game now!

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Arx Fatalis


Genre: Role Playing
Release Year: 2002
Developer: Arkane Studios
Publisher: DreamCatcher Interactive
Age Rating: 18+
Playability Status: Perfect
Tested On: Windows 10 x64
Availability: Copyright retained - Still sold

Don’t want the hassle?

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

If you like exploring dungeons, there’s certainly no shortage of them to explore on your PC. Arx Fatalis is another fantasy role playing game for the PC. In this particular dungeon romp, you will explore the subterranean caverns of the post-apocalyptic world of Arx. A world whose inhabitants have been forced underground after their worlds sun suddenly died. The game takes place from a first-person perspective, much like the popular Elder Scrolls games.

Installation

The game should install just fine on a modern PC. If you’re installing from original retail CD, 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 in Computer/This PC and run the Autorun.exe program manually. Make a note of the installation directory as you will need this information when you come to patch the game. If you’re installing the GoG.com version, simply run the downloaded file and follow the on-screen prompts.

Patching

There were several patches released for Arx Fatalis over its commercial lifetime. If you are using the CD version of the game, you should download and install the latest patch available here. If you’re using the GoG.com version, this patch should already be installed.

Before installing the patch, we recommend you restart your PC. If you do not, you may find the patch struggles to install or update a font component. We’re not entirely sure why this would be, but giving the PC a quick reboot sorted it out for us. You should also note that the patch doesn’t automatically detect the correct installation folder, be prepared to point it to the correct path to your Arx Fatalis game folder (C:\Program Files (x86)\JoWood\Arx Fatalis by default).

Now, you have all the basic components installed with which to play the game, however for best results you will want to check out Arx Liberatis.

Arx Liberatis

Arx Liberatis is a cross-platform, open source port of Arx Fatalis. You can think of it as a fan-made patch, made possible by the fact that the games source code was released into the public domain. Since Liberatis includes several fixes and improvements not found in the original Arx Fatalis, it’s highly recommended. You can download Arx Liberatis by visiting this page. Make sure you choose the correct version (32 bit or 64 bit) depending on your version of Windows. If you’re not sure which version you have, here’s how to tell.

Once the file has downloaded, do not double click on it. Instead, right click on the downloaded file and choose “Run as administrator”. We found if we did not do this, Arx Liberatis would try and install to our Appdata folder, not somewhere sensible like the Program files folder.

Once Liberatis is installed, the game is ready to play. You can start Arx Liberatis (or even the original Arx Fatalis if you wish) from the Start menu.

Tweaking visual quality

Since Arx is now an older game, you should be able to turn on all high quality graphical settings on even a modest modern PC. Start by loading the game then, from the main menu, choose “Options” and then “Video settings”. Now, configure the following options:-

Renderer – On a Windows PC this should be set to D3D9.

Full screen – Typically this should be set to on.

Resolution – This should match your monitors resolution.

Bits Per Pixel – 32

Level of Details – High

Fog distance – As high as possible

Cross hair cursor – Up to you but most players prefer it on

Antialias – On

VSync – On

Tweaking audio quality

Arx Fatalis supports the now defunct EAX hardware accelerated audio standard for high quality surround sound. That means, if you’re playing the original Arx Fatalis, you won’t be able to use EAX mode unless you have a Creative sound card and a copy of ALchemy. However, the Arx Liberatis port/update has moved the audio back-end to OpenAL, which does work on modern machines. That means that you can turn EAX mode on no matter what type of PC you have.

To tweak audio settings, start the game and go to the main menu. Now, choose “Options” and then “Audio Settings”. Now, make sure that “Backend” is set to “OpenAL” and “EAX” is selected.

Troubleshooting and other notes

Since Arx Liberatis is effectively a modern port of the game, there should be few issues with running the game on a modern PC. If you encounter any difficulties, your first port of call should be the FAQ section on the Arx Liberatis website here.

Thanks to Arx Liberatis using a modern DirectX 9 engine, you can use tools like Nvidia Shadowplay or Evolve to take screenshots, videos or to contact your friends while you play. This requires no additional tweaking/configuration other than installing the aforementioned software.

Screenshots

There’s a screenshot gallery for the game on the official Arx Liberatis wiki here.

 

 

 

 

Bumper Wars


Genre: Racing
Release Year: 2001
Developer: Boston Animation
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Interactive
Age Rating: Everyone
Playability Status: Perfect
Tested On: Windows 10 x64
Availability: Copyright retained - Out of print/unavailable

Some low budget games, or movies or TV shows manage to be great despite their creators limited resources. Sometimes, they manage to be spectacularly awful too. Bumper Wars is neither of these things and manages just to be average and instantly forgettable. The games story goes something like this; inspired by amusement parks on earth, a bunch of aliens decide to re-create the spectacle in space, this time arming the bumper cars with guns and weapons.

Installation

The game should install with no problems on a modern PC. Be aware that the default installation directory is “C:\Program Files\Bumper Wars”. On a 64 bit operating system, the program files folder is usually reserved for 64 bit applications, so you may want to manually change the install directory to take this into account.

At the end of the installation process the program will offer to install Gamespy Arcade. You can skip this step as this service shut down many years ago and will no longer work. We also found that the game didn’t automatically create shortcuts on our Start menu, so you may need to add “Bump.exe” (the game) and “Config.exe” (configuration utility) to your Start menu manually. For a tutorial on how to do that, see this page.

Tweaking visual quality

You can set the games visual options at any time by running the “Config.exe” program in the games directory. This should run directly after installation is complete too. Bumper Wars was never the greatest looking game and it certainly hasn’t improved with time, but you can still squeeze the most visual quality from the game by setting the options as shown below.

 

bumper-wars-config-tool

 

The game supports both OpenGL and Direct3D, Direct3D should give the best results. Make sure that device is set to “Direct3D T&L HAL” or (if using dgVoodoo2) “dgVoodoo TnL HAL”. “Screen” can be set to the highest available resolution. The game will only allow you to choose non-widescreen resolutions.

On the bottom left of the screen there are some other options (Click the “More” button if you don’t see them). You can turn all of these options on for best quality. The exception is “Triple Buffering” which may or may not add some additional input lag and shouldn’t be necessary on a modern PC.

Remember to click “Apply” when you’re done configuring these settings.

Configuring controllers

Bumper Wars supports games controllers, you can configure them from the main menu by selecting “Options” and then “Controls”. Note that your car is constantly moving, so the control misleadingly labelled “Gear up” is actually more accurately described as “Go faster”. If you want to use the d-pad or analogue triggers on your controller, you will need to use Xpadder.

Other notes

If you want to use in-game overlays or screen recording software with the game, you can install dgVoodoo2 by following the tutorial here.

Troubleshooting

Problems saving games:- Like many older games, Bumper Wars stores its save game files and other configuration information 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 your 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.

The actual save game and configuration files are stored in the root of the Bumper Wars game folder and are called “players.dat” and “Setup.cfg”.

Screenshot

Click on the screenshot to enlarge it.

bumperwars

Grand Theft Auto III


Genre: Action-adventure, Third Person Shooter
Release Year: 2002
Developer: DMA Design
Publisher: Rockstar Games
Age Rating: 18+
Playability Status: Perfect
Tested On: Windows 10 x64
Availability: Copyright retained - Still sold

The best thing about computer games is how they let us do things that would have some pretty dire consequences in the real world. Reckless driving, speeding through busy city streets, stealing high performance cars or generally being an all round bad guy, it’s not something many of us would want to try for real. In a game however, sign me up! Grand Theft Auto III (GTAIII for short) was the first game in the series to move the perspective from a top down 2D view to a fully 3D world. While it’s graphics may seem primitive now, it was a controversial title at the time and one that re-ignited the debate around violence in videogames. Make no mistake, this is no game for children, but for adults it’s still a great bit of escapism after a hard day at work.

Installation

Grand Theft Auto was available at retail on CD-ROM and is still available on several popular digital download sites (such as Steam). To install the original retail version, place the Install CD into your computers optical drive and follow the on-screen prompts as normal. If the games installation utility does not start automatically, browse to the CD in Computer/This PC and run the “Setup.exe” program manually.

To complete installation of the retail version, we also strongly advise that you copy the contents of the play disc to your GTA3 installation folder. To do this, first locate your GTAIII installation folder. By default this can be found in “C:\Program Files (x86)\Rockstar Games\GTAIII”. Now, pop the Play CD (CD2) into your computers optical drive. Use Windows Explorer or File Explorer to copy the files from the CD into the GTAIII game folder. You can exclude the folder “DirectX RunTime” but everything else should be copied over.

No special steps are required to install the Steam (digital download) version.

Patching

Before taking to the streets of Liberty City, you’re going to need to install some patches. Which patches you need depends on which version of the game you are playing, so check below carefully.

Patch 1.1 – This is needed for the retail CD version of the game, but should be automatically installed if you buy a digital download version of the game. You can download it here.

To install the patch, simply open the zip file and run the gta3patch.exe file inside. Note that the patch does not automatically detect the games installation folder, so you will need to manually browse to the install folder instead (it’s at C:\Program Files (x86)\Rockstar Games\GTAIII by default).

SilentPatch – This is a fan-made patch that fixes lots of issues in the game that Rockstar themselves never got around to fixing. This is highly recommended for all versions of the game, digital download or retail. You can download it by visiting this page. Once on the page, click on the big “Download mod” button and then choose the “SilentPatchIII” download. To install the patch you simply copy the entire contents of the downloaded zip file into your GTAIII game folder.

dgVoodoo2 – The retrogamers best friend, dgVoodoo2 is highly recommended for GTAIII if you have a PC capable of using DirectX 11. Follow our tutorial here for instructions on how to install it. GTAIII is a DirectX game. Once installed, be sure to start the dgVoodoo configuration tool and on the general tab, under “Scaling mode” choose “Stretched, keep aspect ratio”.

SP DDraw for GTA III/VC – This is only needed on older PCs where dgVoodoo2 cannot be used. You can download it from the same page as SilentPatch. To install it, simply copy the file into your GTAIII game directory.

No CD crack/hack – Unfortunately, the retail CD version of the game uses a form of copy protection that is incompatible with Windows 10 (and Windows 8 and 7 with the latest security patches installed). To get around this problem, you will need a no CD patch. Unfortunately we cannot tell you where to obtain this file due to copyright laws. We can tell you that the crack we used was by a group called “MYTH” and had the MD5 hash EF92C0915F06E5F3DDBFB096D1587B96.

This step is not required for the digital download versions.

With the basic patches installed, you can go ahead and start the game and set up the graphics options.

Tweaking visual quality

If you’re playing GTAIII on a reasonably modern machine you should be able to max out all the graphical settings no problem. Start the game and then from the main menu, choose “Options” and then “Display Setup”.

First of all, you’re going to want to turn “Draw distance” up to the very maximum. This will make sure the city is as detailed as possible. We recommend turning “Frame sync” and “Frame Limiter” on too. Without these options, the game may run too fast and you will encounter several game breaking bugs.

There’s also an option to play in widescreen, however many users have reported that this causes issues with aiming and other bugs, so we recommend sticking to 4:3 in this game.

For screen resolution, select either the highest supported resolution or the highest supported 4:3 aspect ratio resolution. Make sure that you choose a resolution with “X 32” as the last number. This is the colour depth and this should always be set to 32 on a modern PC.

Tweaking sound quality

Audio settings can be configured by choosing “Options” from the main menu and then “Audio Setup”. If you don’t have an EAX compatible sound card, there’s not a lot to change here. If you have a surround sound setup, you can try selecting “dsound32 software emulation” and choosing “more than 2 speakers” for the speaker configuration.

If you are lucky enough to have an EAX compatible sound card, you can use Creative Labs ALchemy software to restore full hardware accelerated audio to the game. We’re not sure if this benefits the games sound quality or not, but it certainly can’t hurt. First of all, add GTAIII to your list of ALchemy apps in the usual manner. Now, you need to download the GTAIII/Vice City ALchemy fix. Again, just hit the “Download Mod” button to download the zip file, then copy the contents into your GTAIII game folder.

Once this is done you should be able to start the game and from the Audio Setup menu, set audio hardware as “Creative Labs EAX 3 (TM)”. This should give you the best possible sound quality.

Configuring controls

GTAIII does support game controllers, though configuration is a little problematic. When this game was new, there were all kinds of difficulties getting controllers to work correctly, with axis that were incorrectly inverted and other problems. Luckily, the modding community has come up with a solution for modern game controllers such as the Xbox 360 controller or the PS4 controller. Simply download and install the GInput mod and the game will be upgraded to support modern Xinput compatible controllers. Not only that, but all the button prompts in the game will match your chosen controller too (Xbox and PlayStation controllers are supported).

To download the mod, visit the page here. Click on the big “Download mod” button then choose “GInputIII 1.11 (for GTA III)”. To install the mod, copy the “GInputIII.asi” and “GInputIII.ini” files into your GTAIII game folder, then copy the three files from inside the “models” folder to the models folder in your GTAIII game folder.

Once installed, you’re ready to go if you’re using an Xbox 360 or Xbox One controller. For PlayStation controllers, you will want to edit the “GInputIII.ini” file in Notepad or your favourite text editor. If you’re not familiar with how to do this, see this tutorial.

To enable PlayStation button prompts, find the line “PlayStationButtons=0” and change it to “PlayStationButtons=1” (don’t copy the quotation marks). You can also invert the controllers axis if necessary by replacing “InvertLeftYAxis=0” with “InvertLeftYAxis=1”.

Troubleshooting

Freezing on loading screen – If the game freezes while loading a level or a save game, try restarting your PC then disabling any in-game overlays.

Game asks for disc 2 and won’t start even when it is inserted – Make sure you copied the contents of the Play disc to your GTAIII game folder.

Game does not start – If you’re using the retail CD version, you must use a no-CD patch in order to bypass the games copy protection.

Other notes

Save games and configuration data for GTAIII is stored in “C:\Users\(your username)\Documents\GTA3 User Files”.

If you use dgVoodoo2 to play the game, you can access in-game overlays such as Steam, Evolve or Nvidia Shadowplay. We had some compatibility issues with the Evolve overlay and if you experience lockups or unusual behaviour we recommend you disable it.

Screenshots

Click on any screenshot to enlarge it.

 

Cruising the mean streets of Liberty City

Cruising the mean streets of Liberty City

Concrete jungles all around.

Concrete jungles all around.

 

 

 

Commandos 3 – Destination Berlin


Genre: Real Time Tactics
Release Year: 2003
Developer: Pyro Studios
Publisher: Eidos Interactive
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-patched, DRM free and ready to play from GoG.com. Fully working or your money back.

World War 2 commandos eh? Those dashing men of steel, athletically charging around the battlefield, single handedly taking on tanks and bunkers despite their fondness for tobacco. In this game you will get to command a bunch of these heroes across several missions which take place over the course of the war. Don’t think you will be charging in all guns blazing however, this is a real time tactics game and only skilful planning and careful strategy will see you live to fight another day.

Installation

The game should install without any difficulty on a modern PC. If you’re installing from the original retail version, simply place the first disc 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 “Setup.exe” file manually.

If you’re installing the GoG.com download version, simply download and run the file as supplied by GoG.com.

Patching

The GoG.com version of the game is already pre-patched, but if you’re installing from the original retail CD, you will need to download and install the latest patch manually. You can download the patch here. To install the patch, simply unzip it and then run the file, the patch will then install automatically.

For both the GoG.com and retail versions, we also strongly recommend installing dgVoodoo2 if your PC has a DirectX 11 capable video card. You can find a tutorial on how to do this here. Commandos 3 is a DirectX game and the default installation directory (for the retail version) is C:\Program Files (x86)\Eidos\Pyro Studios\Commandos 3 – Destination Berlin.

When configuring dgVoodoo2 for Commandos 3, be sure to turn Antialiasing (MSAA) to “Off” on the DirectX tab.

Tweaking visual quality

There’s just one visual quality option to set in-game. Start the game and from the main menu, choose “Options” and then “Video Options”. Now, set visual quality to “High Quality”. That’s all the settings you can tweak in the game itself.

Playing in widescreen or high resolution

This is a completely optional step and probably only of interest to advanced gamers. It’s possible with a bit of hacking to play the game in higher resolutions than the original developers intended. Basically, you will need to visit this page and follow the instructions given. Start by downloading the “Widescreen Patch Download” file. Once it’s downloaded, open it up in Windows Explorer/File Explorer. You will see a bunch of files named “1024x600_Commandos3.exe”, “1280x720_Commandos3.exe”, etc. Since we don’t recommend going higher than 720p with this game, choose either the 1024x600_Commandos3.exe or 1280x720_Commandos3.exe and copy it to the Commandos 3 installation folder (C:\Program Files (x86)\Eidos\Pyro Studios\Commandos 3 – Destination Berlin by default).

Now, rename the original “Commandos3.exe” to something like “commandos3.old”. Now rename the file you just copied into the folder from the zip file to “commandos3.exe”.

Follow the instructions on the page to download and install the interface fix too. It works in the same way, remember to rename the old file first then rename the new file you’re copying in.

If you want to install the title banner fix file too, that goes in “C:\Program Files (x86)\Eidos\Pyro Studios\Commandos 3 – Destination Berlin\Data\INTENDENCIA”.

When playing in high resolutions, the games title screens and videos are still in 800×600. Before the start of a mission you’re given a briefing and this will still appear in 800×600.

Troubleshooting

Problems saving games – Like many older games, Commandos 3 stores its save game files and other configuration information 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 your 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.

Commandos 3 save games are stored in the “Output” folder within the games installation directory.

Screenshots

Click on any screenshot to enlarge it.

The game at its original resolution.

The game at its original resolution.

Playing in 720p

Playing in 720p

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