Mafia

Mafia

So, about the game called “Mafia“… Well, the way to describe it is to refer to GTA 3, which was popular at the time and apparently a few games were going for the same concept.

To put it simply, you can call Mafia the tasteful and actually realistic GTA 3. While nothing in the Grand Theft Auto series could actually happen the real world, for those of us with a lower sense of humor and a taste for seriousness, Mafia came in and fixed all the problems with the GTA game style. It has a timeline set in the real world, a very realistic and serious story to tell, and even if the cars had different names – probably for copyright reasons, it could teach you a few things about automobile history.

Everything in the game could actually happen in real life, and some events were probably even inspired by real historical events. The game has quite a sad story and as you play through, you realize the character never really wanted this life, but he didn’t have a choice. The life chose him instead.

The car chases remind you of Hollywood style 1930s movies, people don’t like it when you’re speeding so you’re going to get tickets from the police for that, and gangsters have a plausible story.

Of course, if you do want a more GTA-like having fun kind of experience, there is a game mode which allows you to wander around through the city and steal cars and shoot people, of course – especially gangsters, which apparently the game encourages you to do, giving you bounty money.


The one and only serious problem of
this game is its graphics engine.


I’m not sure why, probably bad optimisations, but no matter how powerful your gaming PC would be, if you’re running this game on its highest settings, it’s going to lag a bit. It’s not your computer’s fault, it’s the game engine.

There’s probably going to be operating system compatibility issues with this game so, if you want to play it, get yourself an older computer – something like a Pentium 4 and a GeForce 3, and use Windows 2000 or Windows XP as the operating system, and you’re all set. Like I said, it doesn’t matter what PC hardware you have, it will do the same thing even if you run it on the fastest video card ever supported by Windows XP.

Shadow Warrior

Shadow Warrior

I’m not sure when I’ve bought the game anymore, but I’ve completely forgotten about it, even though it was right there in my Steam game library.

I got reminded of it when they’ve offered it for free on Humble Bundle. I got it, but when I actually tried activating it on Steam, it shouldn’t have worked… but it did. What actually happened was that it had added all the downloadable content for the game to my library.

So I’ve started playing the game, on the hardest difficulty available, of course, which was “insane.” I’ve completed the game on insane and I have the achievement to prove it, but then I found out that there was one more difficulty, which only unlocked after completing the game: Heroic mode.

What Heroic mode does is… force you to play on an even higher difficulty than insane, and without allowing you to save your progress at will. The only way to save is to complete the current chapter without dying.

So, I have only one major complain here: the video game has some serious bugs, one of which is game breaking and it appears every time you’re trying to beat the fast healing enemy in chapter 12: Zilla. In theory, for each time he heals, the next time he is supposed to heal slower than the last time, so, theoretically, after a few healing cycles it would be possible to kill him. When the bug occurs, it prevents him from slowing down, thus the game becomes impossible to finish. Apparently even if you manage to get his health all the way to 0, if the bug occurred, nothing happens and you can not defeat him. I have found others on Steam with the exact same issue I’m having.

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It turns out that this fight was initially not even supposed to exist. It was only introduced in the Direct X 11 version of the game, and it’s not even an actual boss fight. It only serves as a transition between two cutscenes.

When you start the game on Steam, you get to choose between launching either the Direct X 11 version or the Direct X 9 version. The latter is actually called “Shadow Warrior (Windows XP).” If you play the game in Windows XP mode, when you get to the buggy part in chapter 12, the fight doesn’t even exist! I swear I’ve tried beating Zilla literally ten times, separately, restarting the game and my computer and what not. The bug appeared every time.

And now… I find out that all that work was for nothing. Each of the ten attempts I’ve fought him and let him regenerate over and over again about four to six times over, and it never ended. That is seriously frustrating. And I’ve sent an email about this to their support address, but to no resolution. They haven’t even answered my message. At least they could’ve had the courtesy of saying “we’re sorry, we can’t help you.”

Anyway, like I said, the fight doesn’t even exist in the Direct X 9 version of the game, and you can just carry on with the chapter, battling with hordes of enemies eager to make you do the whole chapter all over again.

But… You can’t just continue the game in the older version without a little bit of work, first. In your Windows profile folder (e.g. “C:\Users\Player”) if you started both versions of the game, there should be two game profile folders: “Shadow Warrior” and “Shadow Warrior DX11”.

While the initial chapter checkpoints savegame files are compatible between the versions, the player profiles are not. At least they are not working for me. If that’s the case for you as well, what you have to do is delete the contents of the Windows XP version, and launch the game once. Be sure to disable Steam Cloud first, or else it will automatically restore the old files when you launch the game.

After you launch the game, make your settings and exit. Do not start a new game. Now, in the game’s folder there should be a folder with your profile’s name, and a similar one in the Direct X 11 version’s folder. Sort the files by modification date, and copy the newest save file from the DX11 profile to the DX9 profile.

COPY IT, DO NOT MOVE IT.

Now you can launch the game in Windows XP mode, and choose to resume game.

At the time of writing this, I haven’t managed to beat chapter 16 yet – I’m still trying to beat the fourth wave of enemies in the infamous last battle, so I can’t say if that bug will appear again in the Direct X 11 version or not. By the way, after beating chapter 12, you can do the reverse and copy the latest save file from the DX9 profile to the DX11 profile, and resume playing in Direct X 11 mode.

In any case, I wanted to make a note about this little nuisance for future players who want to try playing on this mode (obviously, to get the achievement), but get stuck and encounter the same problem.

It’s Now Safe To Turn Off Your Computer

Remember that old message from older Windows operating systems that said “It’s now safe to turn off your computer.” after you issued the Shut Down command from the Start menu? I just watched a weird video about Windows 95, and I got “triggered” as you kids might say today.

Have you ever wondered what it means? Well, I’m here to give you a little help on that.

You see, when personal computers were created, the first ones were very simple and, unlike the ones today which turn off (and even back on) all by themselves, they had to be manually switched on or off.

This is because they were either using the AT industry standard, or they weren’t even using that at all.

Among other things, during the late 90s a new industry standard appeared that’s been used to this day, called ATX. There exist variations of it, but the base is the same.

One of the new things brought to you by this new motherboard and power supply unit design was the fact that the motherboard itself would be permanently supplied with a small amount of power, in order to allow it to enter low power consumption modes (called sleep states these days), and even power on the whole system if the motherboard supports that function.

This is why you have to physically unplug the computer from the electrical outlet when you’re installing new hardware in it: the motherboard is powered even when the computer is switched off, and connecting electronic components to it might damage it if you do not unplug the computer from the wall socket, and wait about 5 minutes, to ensure all power coming from the power supply unit has dissipated.

One of the things that happened when ATX was implemented was the introduction of a core command to power off the system, and this is why your computer shuts off by itself when you tell it to – but in reality the motherboard and in some cases even the microprocessor – is still supplied with power. This actually damages the motherboard components like capacitors over time, by wearing them out, and it’s no different from keeping your computer running at all times without ever switching it off.

Back to the “safe to turn off” message, don’t worry, nothing bad would happen to your computer if you shut it down any other way. Physically, that is.

The message actually meant that at that point any data which was stored on that computer’s hard drives would be perfectly safe when you shut the power off.

Remember what I’ve said about the ATX standard? Windows 95 sometimes didn’t recognize it (because, as I recall, at the time Windows 95 came out, ATX was only present on certain laptops and very rarely on desktops), so it would always show that message informing you that you can switch off now.

Windows 98 showed that message as well, but only after spinning down all the hard drives (which you could actually hear happening quite clearly if you listened close to the computer case), when it wasn’t possible to turn off power automatically – if your computer was not an ATX.

There was a time when data loss was a great problem with hard drives, and companies even made programs for MS-DOS which you had to manually run to park the hard drive read heads and spin it down before turning your computer off, to ensure that the drive’s heads would not land on a data portion of the internal disc, potentially damaging any data on it (as well as the disc surface itself).

The FAT file system was also the only one viable, and it had problems regarding data integrity if power were to suddenly go out. Ever wondered why in Windows 98 ScanDisk would run automatically if you didn’t use the Shut Down command to turn off the computer? This is why. The same thing is done with disk checking in the latest versions of Windows today.

In conclusion, the famous “It’s now safe to turn off your computer.” message meant that any disk activities have halted and you can safely switch the power off in case the computer can’t do so by itself, and you will not lose any data.

I guess people weren’t so inspired when writing computer messages back then.

Achievement Unlocked: DOOMed Me

Today – September 18, 2016 – I’ve finally completed all chapters of Doom 3: BFG Edition on the “nightmare” difficulty level. That is… only four years after I started my hunt for the special achievements.

If you’re wondering why it took me so long to do this then, well, it’s because I have completed the main game on hard before, and when I wanted to do the same with Resurrection of Evil, in order to unlock nightmare mode, the game locked me out of the achievements because I supposedly activated and used the console.

In fact what I actually had done was to use the screenshot button. It’s a stupid but that apparently nobody ever bothered to fix – and I didn’t know about it. I had in fact finished Resurrection of Evil on hard difficulty, but I never got any achievements either for beating the final boss or for the difficulty. I got frustrated because I didn’t know where the bug had occurred and I didn’t want to complete the game all over again, so I left that to be done for another day… and here we are, four years later and the bug appeared again but, thankfully, there is a Stream forum thread about this and I found out it’s fixable and you don’t have to restart the whole game. If only I knew this four years ago…

Anyway, during this time several events occurred in my life that I’d rather not talk about, at least here, because it’s completely off topic, but they also contributed to my lack of interest in completing the game again and getting my achievements. I’ve effectively gone through Hell in real life (figuratively speaking), so now a little bit of frustration from a first person shooter game can’t even begin to compare…

So, to celebrate the fact that I’m building a new gaming computer ten years after the one I did when I finished high school and went to university, I decided it was time to finally finish Doom 3 the way it was meant to be played, and finally put it to rest… and also I consider I wouldn’t deserve to play the new Doom game if I didn’t. Not that any of you wouldn’t deserve to play or something like that, it’s just my way of being harsh with myself – I need to feel like I actually deserve something.

Given, I swear to you that finishing the game on nightmare is actually easier than the hard mode, even if you have only 25 health maximum through out the whole game. If you’re wondering why I’m saying that, it’s because if you’re extremely careful with your ammo like I am, nightmare mode actually makes you indestructible… Because in all three games (well, Resurrection of Evil doesn’t count because this behavior is normal) you get the artifact from the very beginning. Yes, you have The Soul Cube to help you. Whenever you kill 5 enemies, it charges up. If you always keep it only for emergencies, difficult areas with surprise jump scare hard enemies become a breeze…

Well, most of the time you have to be careful not to take damage. That’s the only truly difficult and highly annoying part.

It is a bit disappointing that The Lost Mission doesn’t bring any new enemies, but it did have very annoying parts where out of rage I used the rocket launcher, and that says a lot, because I don’t usually use anything else than the good old shotgun.

Yeah, staying alive with 25 health or less is sometimes a challenge, especially in the outside levels where you run out of oxygen. That’s really annoying and there was one time I had no choice but to use all three Hell Stone charges in Resurrection of Evil just to get from point A to point B while running and not bothering to kill any enemies in the process. But… that makes up for the fact that you could run away throughout the whole game with just 1 health point if you really wanted to since whenever you’re using the Hell Stone you’re invincible.

Just for fun I avoided using that as much as possible, by the way. The only time I had no other choice was when I was outnumbered by ranged enemies. Using it actually takes the fun out of the whole thing. I enjoyed taking my time with imps and Hell knights, even killing them with the simple pistol or – not because I am low on ammo but because I just like conserving as much of it as possible – using the plasma grabber to return their projectiles to them.

Oh, and I love taking on revenants face to face at close range with the shotgun – you know, the mean skeletons that shoot rockets out of their shoulders. Yeah, they’re very vulnerable to this strategy. They die from two direct hits from the normal shotgun, or just one direct hit from the double barrel shotgun (much like most of the enemies, for that matter).

In case you’re young enough to not know, you may be wondering why all this excitement and praising over a game – or rather franchise – like Doom?

Well, it is one of the grand daddies of all modern first person shooter games, in fact the second ancestor to this genre. The first game of its kind was rather a beta test for a game engine which later on was used for the first person shooter game, Wolfenstein 3D.

Then after the success of Doom came Quake, and then Quake 2, and so on. This game, Doom, was one of the first video games to ever feature such a level of violence. The story was weird, but back then videos were non existent, and you had to use your imagination a bit. Anyway, no story would make much sense to this… but they did try to make it believable (more or less) in the film adaptation.

That reminds me… You know that weapon, the legendary BFG? Everyone who is into first person shooters knows that the initials stand for “Big Fucking Gun”… but in the movie it is called “Big Force Gun”, although they have no problem with the F word whatsoever. Then why did they do that? Well, it’s for credibility. The Union Aerospace Corporation is a serious and respectable entity, and that being said, nobody would officially name a weapon “Big Fucking Gun.” They have put some thought into that, they really did!

So the world around you gets infested with more and more creepy demonic creatures while scientists disappear. They tried to make sense of that too, so they came up with the idea that the demons were actually the scientists who got turned as a result of unsafe experiments.

I was especially amused by the first person perspective from the movie that was actually rendered using a special version of the Doom 3 game engine.

Anyway, enough digressing… Like I mentioned earlier, there are there very important franchises in the gaming world, that pretty much created the first person genre. They are, in this order: Wolfenstein, Doom, and Quake – and by the way, Bethesda is throwing at us a direct sequel to/remake of Quake 3: Arena soon. This is going to be interesting…

Many things in the world have traditions and historical landmarks, so why would gaming be different? Depending on how old or young you are, you might or might not enjoy historical game titles, but at least for the sake of culture, if you want to call yourself a gamer or a fan of a specific video game genre, your agenda must include playing and completing some of the “classics.” You are likely to not enjoy Doom or Doom II because of the MS-DOS era graphics, but with games like Doom 3 or the Doom of 2016 you have no excuse regarding that.

Yeah, today multiplayer games are all the rage, but multiplayer games have no story to complete and what you are doing is experiencing a repetitive or never-ending battle. If that’s your thing then, fine, by all means… but I’m one of those people who like having thrilling adventures in worlds which do not exist in real life. My experience with Doom 3 taught me something about horror games: Doom isn’t really a horror game.

It uses horror as an excuse to allow you to shoot everything in sight. If you were to shoot anything else than monsters and demons you’d be cataloged as a psycho, not a hero. The same thing can also be said about other games, like Quake, Duke Nukem, etc. 🙂

It barely qualifies as a horror game just because it jump scares the crap out of you… in the beginning. Then, as you play on, you get used to that factor and expect every possible jump scare attempt right where it actually is.

Yes, there is a crucial difference between the original release of Doom 3 and the remastered “BFG” edition: in the original you had to choose one, not both, from either seeing what you’re supposed to be shooting, and actually shooting it. That was creepy sometimes, I have to admit, but it generates panic rather than fear or terror, because you’re not sure if you’re hitting your target.

Well, the imagery of Hell is also a factor, but that’s just disturbing imagery, not necessarily scary in any way. There are other things worse than Hell, less disturbing but much more horrifying in nature. You want proof? Think of a never-ending loop of hallways. The more simple it is, the more creepy and horrifying it gets as you loop again and again and again.

So… if you don’t like horror games, think again about Doom 3, maybe you’ll give it a chance just because of the fun of shooting things.