'Liberty' City?

gta-iv-niko-2I picked up GTA4 yesterday. A bit reluctant, because I read about the horrible installation/validation process.

We’re now roughly a year after its release date, and because I’m a terrible sucker for bargain bins when it comes to PC games, I’ll analyze what has been fixed and what not in the process: the road to Liberty City.

More behind the cut

These are the steps I experienced:

  1. Pop in the first DVD.
  2. The autorun screen had it’s locale set to Korean … My Korean’s a little rusty, so I hoped the left button read “install game” or something similar. Wild guess number one.
  3. Actually, it appearently meant, “install Rockstar Social Club”. Without any explanation, I had to install this application, which was needed for online play.
  4. There’s the autorun screen again. I hit the same button. Wild guess number two.
  5. This time it means “install GTA IV”. Allright, five steps in, we’re getting somewhere! Pretty standard procedure, although the game takes up a hefty 16 Gb and the installation involves 2 disk swaps.
  6. Again, without any explanation, “Microsoft Live Games” is installed on the end of this installation procedure. DirectX too, but that’s pretty standard, so we’ll let it slip.
  7. Installer closes, The Rockstar Social Club is launched: it needs updating. A lot.
  8. After 5 minutes, I’m prompted to create an account in this ‘Social Club’. Browser launches, I fill in the details and wait for a confirmation e-mail. Their mail spooler is set to 15 minutes, so it’s a long wait.
  9. I activate my account and log in to the Rockstar Social Club: it says I have to “link my Microsoft Live Games account to Rockstar Social Club”. Errrh …
  10. After some browsing, I find a way to create a Microsoft Live Games account using my old .Net passport. Thank the gods for the good ol’ Hotmail days.
  11. After some more browsing, I find a way to “link” these two together on the Rockstar Social Club webpage (mind you: not in the Rockstar Social Club application, oh no). Why? I have no idea, but I hope it will be clear soon.
  12. Finally, I clik on “Play”.
  13. Game has to be activated using serial code. I enter it, game gets unlocked. SecuROM copy protection complains about ProceXP (a tool I use to monitor process activity), and I have to close that and relaunch.
  14. Game launches, but Microsoft Live Games overlay pops up and mentions an update. The game will shutdown without the update, it warns me. I don’t really have a choice then, do I?
  15. The progress bar immediately fills up, but stays like that for 10 minutes. I have to alt-tab out of the game to check whether or not it’s actually downloading the update or just screwing around.
  16. The game exits, the update installs, the game relaunches.
  17. I can play GTA4.

There’s no defending this, Rockstar. What could have gone better:

  • Ditch Rockstar Social Club entirely, and implement it in-game.
  • Integrate Rockstar Social Club with the product activation.
  • Get rid of the Games for Windows Live software, although that might be a contractual agreement with Microsoft.
  • Give more info on what is installed, and how far along the process is.

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