Armed Assault (that’s ArmA, kids) 1.11 Beta Patch out now

I mentioned a beta patch before, and now it’s here!

  • Fixed compatibility issues with Vista x64 platform
  • Voice over net and multiplayer related fixes and improvements
  • Fixed Out Of Memory problems caused by exhausting 32b virtual address space
  • Significant optimizations with large view distances
  • AI bridge pathfinding much improved
  • Fixed some bugs in the AI target recognition both visually and aurally
  • Improved airplane turn dynamics simulation (including improved rudder simulation)
  • Fixed clipping issues with 16:9 or TrippleHead displays


Performance was pretty good (as in, I haven’t seen it that good before) when I tried it out on Vista X64 just then – and best of all, no need to dual-boot any more just to play it!

Thanks for the beta, back in a few weeks of playtesting.

(I noticed that trying to adjust the Y axis mouse sensitivity slider didn’t really work properly, but the X was OK… just me?)

Armed Assault 1.12 due "soon", and should fix the >3GB problem

Since upgrading to a Vista x64 box with 4GB RAM, I’ve been unable to play Armed Assault. Well, not with, what’s the word? Oh, right, visible graphics.

Sure, you can limit your total memory to <=3GB via BCDEDIT and reboot every single time you want to play the game, but, um, that’s not the best user experience.

A post to the Flashpoint1985 Armed Assault Troubleshooting forum (which seems to get indexed by precisely zero search engines, doesn’t support RSS feeds and is generally a pain in the bum to use) suggests that the upcoming patch (1.12, I think was mentioned somewhere, but whatever; as long as it works (1.09 beta doesn’t)) will fix that.

Now where’s the damn patch!? It’s coming up on a year and a half since release, and still no Vista support. Lift your game, folks!

No Formula One game from EA in 2008 then.

In a post dated March 18, Peter Moore (formerly of Microsoft Xbox fame, now an EA VP) notes:

Formula One – This seems to be a popular question, and it seems many of our fans in Europe are interested in our thoughts about the game license. This one is simple. I am personally a huge fan, having grown up worshipping such great drivers as Graham Hill, Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart and James Hunt. The excitement that Lewis Hamilton has brought to the sport, and its vast global appeal, make it an appealing game license, but as of right now it is not available. Maybe in a few years the situation will change, but until then we fully respect the rights held by our partners at Sony.

Which is a gigantic pain in the arse, after rumours that EA had bought a Lewis Hamilton endorsement for 5 million quid.

Might have to go get a PS3 if the Formula One license is going to linger with them for much longer.

(Guess there’s always RFactor in the meantime – the best $50 I’ve spent on a racing game in a long time).

The Kimi Raikkonen Drinking Game

After the race itself, my favourite part of any Formula One race is getting smashed while Kimi gives his press interviews.

Here’s how to play along with me:

So, when Kimi:

Plays with the microphone: have a shot

Picks his nose: a double shot;

Picks his nose, inspects the picking, then somehow disposes of it (or returns it): go the triple shot!

Looks like he’s going to pick his nose but ends up rubbing his cheek or pulling his ear: look like you’re going to have a shot, but have another drink instead.

My theory is that the better his result, the drunker you’ll get after a race.

(I always thought it was spelt Raikonnen, but seems I was just drunk at the time)

Armed Assault 1.08 (finally) out

Yep, it’s been three months since the last ArmA update, and we’re hoping this one fixes the crashing under Windows Vista.

I wasn’t game to try the early betas, as one of the side effects was mentioned as being a Sprocket reactivation. I’m wary enough of Sprocket without wanting to lose an activation for a weirdo beta patch, so 1.08’s the update I’m going for.

It should bring rough parity to all worldwide versions of ArmA, except where special content was created for a particular publisher. They should all be bug-compatible though!

Details and download links here:

STALKER a week later…

Well, I’m very happy to report that the Stalker crashes were fixed under Vista x64 – completely – by marking the executable as LargeAddressAware. Yay!

For me, the Stalker experience has been one of two different games – the first a taut, fearful experience, when saving might actually cause the loss of progress, thus providing a powerful incentive to stay alive at all costs, but at the same time, knowing that you were playing on borrowed time – the longer you lived, the less likely you’d be able to save later.

Let’s call that the “initial minigame”.

Once you’ve patched up to get that wonderful more-than-20-minute feeling, and you adapt to the Stalker model – and it does seem to take a good two to three hours of uninterrupted play to adapt to it – it becomes a different experience. The Zone, as they call Chernobyl’s surrounds, becomes a fascinating and absorbing area, and the game morphs from maddening too-hard shooter into a deliberately-paced role-playing shooter. An RPS, I guess.

Management of the items you’re carrying to keep your fatigue levels low might not sound like fun, but, well, it is. Deus Ex forced you to make tough choices about what you were carrying by volume of stuff; in Stalker, the size of the items probably won’t slow you down too much, but grab one item too many over your 50KG carrying capacity and you quickly become fatigued and unable to run for more than a few steps. Hit 60KG, and you’re unable to move. Time to make some tough choices – the radiation meds, or the artifacts?

Artifacts provide the “buffs” most know and love from regular RPGs or MMOs, and collecting and hoarding artifacts is just flat-out fun. Monsters and bandits do respawn (booo), but I’m not sure about Artifacts – hopefully so.

Most artifacts are useful in some way, but have a tradeoff – as an example, the Soul artifact (they’re all just rock-like things, it’s not someone’s soul. I think) gives you something like +600% healing per second, but reduces your armour’s bulletproofness and rupture-proofness by 10% each. Many of the artifacts swap radiation for effect, meaning that unless you find an anti-radiation artifact your experimentation will be short lived. Like you. Thankfully, radiation-eating Fireballs start popping up after a little exploration – at first, I was indignant and annoyed that I’d have to enable an artifact, then use a precious antiradiation drug and health kit before keeling over.

So, in short, I’m really liking this game. The indoor and underground areas are frequently claustrophobic and genuinely scary (so much so that I physically sigh with relief when I get back out into daylight (or even the bastard twilight that passes for night around these parts) and the countryside has a distinct character and flavour, even though it’s a radioactive wasteland.


The most shocking moment so far happened a few minutes ago, through a flashback I wasn’t expecting (they seem pretty sparse so far): I learned that in my past, it seems, I was… a bunny killer. That terrible secret led to me being caught by the bunnies, and my memory being wiped. But now, at the bottom of a dungeon-like laboratory, I know the awful slaughtering truth.


Perfect? Nup – NPCs aren’t really a believable bunch, but they serve their purpose within the game mechanic. The text seems too large in many areas, and the “PDA” interface is frequently an exercise in frustration and weird design.

The zone is broken into “level”s in the “small maps” sense, and this is possibly the big one – my impression of Stalker from the press to this point was that it was going to be GTA-style free roaming, only with radiation – one big world, seamless, no boundaries, and so on. Just my expectation, no big deal.

Also, I have no idea how it’s meant to look, because I’ve been playing with the shader mod made by one of the Ars.Technica users. I’m considering turning it off and going back to regular shaders, but it always seems to be a case of “next time”… It looks pretty damn sweet anyway.

My verdict: Stalker-that-doesn’t-crash is one of the most compelling experiences I’ve had this year so far.

Four and a half slaughtered radioactive bunnies out of five.