Sunday, November 15, 2020

It Only Took Me 13 Years to Beat Crysis

I was testing some used video cards I recently picked up on eBay, and figured Crysis was as good a game as any to test with... the original, not the remaster. The cards I was testing ranged roughly from GeForce 9800+ GTX to GeForce GTX 580.

Naturally I got a bit caught up in it and played through to the end of the third chapter named "Relic". This is the part where you reach a cemetery, which is to be a landing zone for your extraction. However, there's a small team of nanosuit equipped evil-doers you have to take out first.

It had been a while since my last play of this game, but as soon as I arrived at this location, it hit me that I might not have ever passed this level before. I wasn't completely sure, but I don't really remember any part of the game after this point. Turns out, I was right. This had always been the end of the line for me.

Now I've probably played the first few levels of Crysis a dozen times or more over the years, but I had found the end of this level to be a bit of a challenge, such that I always ended up giving up. Probably after doing this a few times, I must have lost interest, to the extent that I think it just became automatic that I stopped here. Besides, I doubt I had ever really been serious about beating the game. I don't have a great track record when it comes to game completion, after all.

But this time, I felt like I had to break my trend, here and now, so I continued to play. At first, I made the same mistakes at the cemetery that I remember making many times before. I stayed out in the open, and the enemies made light work of me, often one-shot killing me from a distance. It was every bit as frustrating as I remember.

Not sure what made me decide to switch up my strategy, especially since I must not have in any of my previous attempts, but I did, and it paid off. In fact, as many are likely already aware, it's not that hard to pass this section, if you avoid some simple mistakes, like standing around waiting for your enemies to de-cloak so you can shoot at them. This area is just too large and spread out for that to be effective, for me anyway.

Instead, I just made much more use of the cloak, de-cloaking only long enough to take out each enemy one at a time. Additionally, I got a bit better at changing to armor mode before I started shooting, which usually left plenty of energy to re-cloak and enough time to move away. With this strategy, I lurked within the cemetery walls, sticking near cover, and waited for them to come in after me. Remaining still, you can spot their shimmy even when they are also cloaked.

So I played through to the end of the game. Overall I enjoyed it. One thing I didn't enjoy was encountering a bug I never knew existed, which I triggered by not grabbing the TAC gun when I should have. I ended up replaying the entire last level, which I wasn't super pleased to have to do, but it is done now. Yay me. Pride and accomplishment :P

I can't believe it took me 13 years, but I finally beat Crysis... probably not even a very hard game to beat, but some games just have those certain spots where you get tripped up, and sometimes can't seem to get past. Or maybe it's just me.

I've never played either of the sequels, but own them both. I might give them a whirl, and at this rate should finish Crysis 2 by the year 2033, and Crysis 3 by the year 2046. I'll be 75 years old. Hmm.

Monday, January 4, 2016

How to use Dell Recovery Partition Manually with IMAGEX Utility


Get imagex.exe...

   Option 1:
   Download Windows6.1-KB2525084-v2-x64.cab (232KB)
   The file is inside at: \imaging\imagex.exe
 
   Option 2:
   Download the WAIK from Microsoft (1.66GB)
   The file is inside at: \Neutral.cab\F1_imagex
   Copy it out and rename it to imagex.exe

Boot to something to where you can use imagex.exe with the following command:

   imagex.exe /ref c:\dell\image\factory*.wim /apply c:\dell\image\factory.wim 1 d:\

I had better luck formatting the system partition before applying the image.

If there is sufficient interest in this post, I may flesh it out with more info/instructions on setting up a boot method, etc. Until then, it's assumed people know what they are doing ;)

Props to Brian M.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

HP Pavilion a1630n Recovery of WinXP After Failed Win7 Upgrade

This is how I was able to access and run HP Recovery from the intact recovery partition after an unlicensed copy of Windows 7 had been installed on an HP Pavilion a1630n. If you have the proper Recovery media (discs) for your computer, you shouldn't need to use this procedure. Use your Recovery discs instead.

This computer came originally with Windows XP Media Center Edition. Someone had installed Windows 7 over that, I believe because they may have thought it would solve some issues that they were experiencing. At this point, it was unable to boot into any OS. As I recall, attempts to boot into Windows 7 resulted in a restart loop.

The installation of Windows 7 had somehow removed the ability to enter the HP Recovery application through standard means, which include pressing F10 at the BIOS splash screen.

I can't tell you this will work for every situation, every HP or even every specific model of Pavilion, but it's something you can try, or to at least get ideas from when trying to resolve your own similar situation. It may seem like a lot of steps, but that's only because I have it broken down to pretty much every click, keystroke or command as I try to be as clear as is possible and reasonable. It's really rather quick and simple overall. Yes, you could condense some of the steps if you know what you're doing. Good for you.

Things you'll need:
  • The computer you want to repair.
  • An intact recovery partition. If you're not sure it has this, give it a try, you might get lucky.
  • A valid Windows password, if one is assigned. If you're not sure whether you'll need one, try the procedure anyway, you might get lucky.
  • Some knowledge of DOS/console commands. (or check out the video)
  • The understanding that this will delete all data on your computer. This means your photos, music, documents, etc. Make sure that you have backed up any data you want to keep before doing this. You might be able to alter these instructions slightly to use a non-desctructive recovery method that will, in theory, not delete your personal data, but I have not tested that, nor have I provided instructions for such alternate methods here. Proceed at your own risk.
  • The means to reinstall any programs that did not come preinstalled on your computer originally. This may include Microsoft Office, or even drivers for any after market hardware that has been added, such as a wireless network card or printer. Think about this, because you might not be able to access the Internet post recovery, unless you are prepared. Just saying.

Instructions:

WARNING: THIS WILL DELETE ALL DATA ON THE COMPUTER. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE BACKED UP ANY DATA YOU WANT TO KEEP BEFORE DOING THIS. PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK.
  1. Turn on the computer. At the BIOS splash screen, press the F10 key for System Recovery.
    Next I had some screen that said "Edit Windows boot options for: Windows 7". I don't know what the screen is for or why it came up, but I pressed the ESC key to continue.
  2. Select/highlight "Windows 7" (if it's not already) and press F8 at the "Choose an operating system to start" screen.
  3. Select/highlight "Repair Your Computer" (if it's not already) and press the ENTER key to continue.
  4. Click the 'Next' button on the window titled "System Recovery Options".
  5. Enter the Windows account password and click the 'OK' button.
    If you don't know the password, you can try to continue with leaving it blank. If that doesn't work you might be stuck and unable to continue. Be sure to try all user accounts available in the 'User name' drop-down list, if available.
  6. Click 'Command Prompt', typically the last option in the list.
  7. Change to the D: drive.
  8. CD to the "MiniNT" directory.
  9. CD to the "system32" directory.
  10. Run "Restore.exe". This should open the HP Recovery program.
  11. Select "Start PC Recovery" and click the 'Next' button.
  12. Click the 'OK' button on the useless Welcome screen.
  13. Click the 'Advanced Options' button.
  14. Select "Destructive Recovery" (if it's not already) and click the 'Next' button. Remember, this will delete all data on the computer.
  15. Click the 'Yes' button on the warning about your hard drive being reformatted. The recovery will then run to completion.
  16. Click the 'Restart' button when the recovery is finished.
    For me, this didn't actually restart the computer, but it did exit the HP Recovery program. If your computer does restart, you can skip the rest, otherwise keep going.
  17. Close the "Command Prompt" window.
  18. Click the 'Restart' button in the "System Recovery Options" window.
The computer should restart and boot into Windows XP successfully. Please let me know if this procedure worked for you, or how it may have helped you otherwise. Good luck!

tl;dr
Boot to system recovery options, command prompt, run the following:
d:\minint\system32\restore.exe
Once recovery is complete, restart and you should be good to go.