So I've taken it upon myself to be a beacon in the night... A shining ray of hope in these troubled times. A defender of gaming and all that is right in this darkened world. I take these scars upon myself so you do not have to endure their pain.
Or I could just be curious.
My last entry noted that i was taking a test drive of Windows 7 and would be installing a few titles to see how they ran- if they ran at all. As promised, here's the after action report on a limited run of titles. To set the stage, my base system specs:
CPU: Intel Q6600 Quad Core 2.4 overclocked to 3.0ghz
Memory: 4gb DD2 RAM
GFX Card: Radeon 3850 512mb
OS: Windows 7 x64 6.1 Build 7100 (running Direct X 11)
Couldn't have gone smoother. Windows 7 loaded up from the disk easily, detected all 3 hard drives and asked which one I wanted to install on. Gone were the old framework screens in favor of anti-aliased fonts and a mouse driven interface. Once up, 7 installed itself with minimum user babysitting, pausing only to confirm the timezone and internet connectivity before launching the desktop. All in all, it was a very painless process, and I was happy not to have had to push 'L' for 'Lost' at anytime during the installation.
Most mundane programs installed without any issues, though it should be noted that the older the program, the less likely it is to work. Some of it is obvious. My cherished copy of Total Annihilation will play, but won't install because of the x64bit architecture, the installer running as 16bit. Presumably if you're running the 32bit version of Windows 7, you won't encounter issues like this. other items simply won't be reconcilable, however. Old copies of Nero won't work (but the newest ones will), likewise Daemon disk utilities. Overall, it's not a surprise some stuff works, while other stuff simply will not. It's par for the course. Adobe CS 8 installed without issues, as did the entire Office 2k7 suite, as expected.
Windows 7 is also very helpful in aquiring your hardware drivers once it finds the internet, going out, identifying the cooresponding software and downloading it for you. Sometimes it will be a tad too helpful and you'll find yourself wrestling with Windows as it insists it's choice is better than yours. One nice little feature I appreciated- aside from the pretty gui and taskbar tweaks -is the ability to burn .iso files native from Windows to DVD, no special software required. Media Center is also now capable of playing the majority of my anime archive without the need to import software, such as VLC. Score.
But you're not here for the mundane installs. You're here for the games, so lets get down to it. Mind you, this isn't intended to be an all inclusive guide, nor do I have the time to load up every MMO to see how it played. Patching alone would be an epic time sink, so I chose a few that just happened to be lying around on my hardrive. Also, all of these worked on Vista x64, so theoretically they should work here as well.
First, I tested Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance. While it isn't an MMO, it was handy and nice for establishing a performance baseline. Installation proceeded without issue but ran into snags upon execution of the game itself, citing an 'inability to start because X3DAudio.dll is missing from my computer'. X3DAudio.dll is usually associated with Direct X and Windows 7 runs the new DX11, so I'm not sure where the incompatibility there lies.
Next came NeoSteam: The Shattered Continent, a free to play MMO. Again, the installation proceeds fine, but dies upon execution. X-Trap- the game's anti hack software -kills the game, reporting that 'some functions of the operating system have been corrupted'. Sure it has, Tex.
So far, not a promising start. Switching both apps over to XP compatibility mode fails to affect their ability to launch.
Moving right along, I slapped LUNA Online onto the the hard drive and was finally greeted with success. It was your typical installation in every way, and the game itself ran flawlessly; all settings maxed out like it had when I originally previewed the game here on MMORPG.com. Also successful was Ether Saga Online, another thoroughly average free to play MMO. Both performed exactly as they had on Vista x64, perhaps owing to the fact that they use nProtect and GameGuard respectively for their hack prevention.
Working our way up the free to play ladder I decided to give another old friend a try: Runes of Magic. I was especially interested to give this title a try since it's probably the closest thing to a subscription title by a second string company running under the free to play banner. Even though their code isn't the most efficient, Runes installed and loaded up without stumbling once. With the game up and running, I collected my 20 promotional diamonds and moved on.
Finally we come to the big dog, World of Warcraft. Any serious problem here won't bode well for MMO gaming on Windows 7, period. Issues with a mainline release such as Blizzard's probably indicates an intrinsic flaw that will surface in other major titles. After five metric asstons of installing and patching to WotLK (it's been nearly 6mo since I last touched it), I'm happy to report that Warcraft executes flawlessly. Everything loads up and plays exactly as it did on every system it's ever touched prior to this one. In away, I'd almost be surprised if a problem did surface, since Blizzard's code is traditionally tight; even supporting multi core systems such as mine.
With that last bit of good news, we come to the question: Is 7 ready for prime time? Almost. If you choose to be an early adopter, expect the quirks, but given the shotgun test performed here there's a good chance your MMO will work once the dust settles. Worst comes to worst, it's already a solid release and I would expect any bugs to be ironed out in the release canidate later this year. Overall, I find myself liking Windows 7, cross platform OS debates aside. It's refined, more user friendly and definitely lighter on the cludge...
...Basically what Vista should have been in the first place.