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Battlezone II: Combat Commander

Platform(s): PC
Genre: Action
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Pandemic

About Rainier

PC gamer, WorthPlaying EIC, globe-trotting couch potato, patriot, '80s headbanger, movie watcher, music lover, foodie and man in black -- squirrel!

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'Battlezone II: Combat Commander' - Unofficial v1.3 Beta 5.1 Patch

by Rainier on Sept. 8, 2009 @ 7:57 a.m. PDT

Jump in and take command in a fight that spans six exotic worlds with diverse environments - from steaming, swampy jungles crawling with deadly creatures to rocky wastelands strewn with boiling lava pits to ruined cities half-buried in nuclear snow. Players start by building a base from which they command a force of armored vehicles, infantry, and aircraft through a series of exploratory, offensive and defensive missions. Gamers will drive a variety of tanks and walkers, pilot the scout ships, and even jump out and fight an evil and challenging alien enemy on foot. Each side will choose from an arsenal of powerful weapons including guided missiles, mortars, mines and bazookas.

Get the Battlezone 2 v1.3 Beta 5.1 Patch off WP (88mb)

The 1.3 patch has been in development since September/October 2001, headed by two programmers from the Battlezone II team: Ken Miller, Nathan Mates.

The major improvements of 1.3 public beta 5.1, compared to the previous release are:

  • Performance optimizations to DirectX 9 graphics, most noticeably in the terrain rendering. Satellite view should be far faster, especially on slower machines
  • EMBM bumpmaps work once again. High res shadows are re-enabled, but still just as buggy as it's always been (since Battlezone II v1.0)
  • Local fog should look better
  • Various crash bugs fixed
  • Max vertex count for models has been upped to 20,000 verts/model; old limit was 2730 verts/model. No stock assets have higher poly counts, but mods may take advantage of that.

A number of tweaks and enhancements are in v1.3:

• Much greater MOD (game modification) support, allowing up to 26 total races to be active at once. Many MODders have been among 1.3 beta testers, and have been working to take advantage of the new features. Mods supporting 1.3 are not included in this download, but are available.
• Developed/Tested on Windows 2000/XP, DirectX 8.0-9.0b for much better compatability out of the box. Limited Vista testing has been done; you'll probably have to run it as an administrator if it gives you issues.
• Many crashes/freezes fixed.
• Redone audio system that supports far more channels (up to 64) and DirectSound3D for a far more immersive experience. Note: not all sound cards on the market support that many channels; if the driver on your system notes a limit under 64, BZ2 will use that instead.
• Support for Ogg Vorbis compressed sounds - similar to mp3 files, but with higher quality.
• Some graphics tweaks: Maximum ingame resolution can be set much higher than 1280x1024 if your hardware supports it. Gamma (brightness) adjustment works on ATI cards.
• New graphics options like anisotropic filtering, mip bias, more efficient use of graphics card memory with DXT textures improve the visual appeal of the game.
• Enhancements to many parts of the game, including AI, craft handling, etc.
• Many more pregame options for IA, DM, Strat & MPI games (feature available to MODs to define custom options pages on a per-map basis)
• Bots in DM, and some additional DM gameplay modes.
• Strategy-CTF game mode -- capture a goal, tug it back to your recycler to win, on 6 classic maps. Finally a good use for tugs in MP!
• Over 50 additional Instant Action & Multiplayer maps by several mappakers within the BZ2 community, and tweaks to some existing maps to reduce bugs. As of 1.3PB4a, there are 20 classic & additional IA maps, and over 100 classic & additional MP maps installed.
• Several additional security measures to make cheating in multiplayer much more difficult; deliberate remote crashing of games should be fixed.
• New BZ2 editor screen layout files contributed by testers to expose more functionality that was already there.
• Ability to rotate buildings (on 90-degree increments) for even more base-building fun
• Updates to the manual (located in the Extras folder where BZ2 is installed to) to give updated and more accurate information
• Includes over 900Kb of text files listing changes made since 1.2. This changelog contains our (minimalist) notes as to what changed for each version, and isn't guaranteed to be easily understood. But, it may be useful reading.

The major improvements of 1.3techalpha5, compared to 1.3pb4a are:

* Updated graphics engine that uses (and requires) DirectX 9.0c for the best balance of compatibility and speed. Hardware transform & lighting is now supported, allowing a lot of work to be offloaded from your CPU and onto your graphics card. New DirectX features like fullscreen antialiasing (or multisample antialiasing) are supported to improve visual quality.
* Various lagout bugs in network games should be drastically reduced
* Further support for Windows Vista/7 -- should fully support being installed to paths with unicode, has high-resolution icon for Windows Explorer
* Music from the BZ2 CD is now distributed with this patch, in ogg vorbis format, allowing for better performance. You can also set up a random playlist of music to be played ingame, if you copy in .ogg files to the right place and the right name. (Note: other music needs to be user-supplied.)

Some of the features of Public Beta 4/4a are:

• More features, including weapon linking, thumpers, and variable gravity DM maps
• Increased vista compatability, audio works in WINE
• Many more modder features, such as 60-char ODF names, inheritance, tons of new tuning values, etc
• Performance optimizations - Streaming SIMD Extensions (SSE) are used to take more efficient use of your CPU
• Fewer resyncs, units (human & AI) should warp less online
• Ability to replace CD music w/ OGG files
• Easier to host games w/ automatic UPNP, Windows Firewall support(*)

*: requires router w/ UPNP support, and Windows Firewall as your primary firewall; other firewall software/hardware will still need some manual attention
For now, this patch will be pretty much English-only. If you have a foreign (French or German) version of BZ2, this patch will replace a lot (but not all) of the files used to display text ingame with English. Voiceovers and other sound effects will remain in the installed language. A translated version of these text items may happen at a later time.
A special note: one of the bugs fixed is the infinite flying bug present in BZ2 1.0 - 1.2. This was removed because it is considered to be a bug by those of us who worked on BZ2 from the beginning. It is not due to complaints from "newbies" or the like. Certain people certainly feel strongly about this. Fine. Please realize that feelings are not an argument. Whining about this will not change anything-- we've heard such complaints for years, and your comments will only serve to harden our resolve in this.

Compatability w/ previous BZ2 versions

Some notes on compatability w/ previous versions:
• Like all other BZ2 patches, the 1.3 patch is not network compatible with any other version-- all players in the game must be running the exact same version (1.3pb4)
• Maps & DLLs for BZ2 1.2 should load fine. However, any map/dll that depends on certain behavior in the AI, etc for scripting may need tweaking.
• Progress in Singleplayer missions, preferences should be read fine; where more options than 1.2 exist (especially the sound setup), users may need to adjust those new options if they don't like the defaults. 1.3 uses a new file format for pilots/prefs, and upgrades 1.2's files on reading them. Those new preferences files can not be read by 1.2.
• Mid-mission savegames from BZ2 1.0, 1.1, 1.2 or 1.3pb1-pb3 can not be read, as the file formats changed too much. But, as noted above, progress in SP missions is left untouched.
• Missions created with the editor in 1.3 will not be readable in previous versions, same with savegames, etc.
• Many MODs for BZ2 will be uninstalled as part of the install of 1.3. Some broken MODs that installed themselves into the Data folder (which should *never* have happened, but some people refused to do things right and install to addon) may have to be manually deleted.
• MODs that replaced out large chunks of the BZ2 shell (aka Forgotten Enemies) may need extensive tweaks before they can work with 1.3. There are various works in progress to make such MODs work, and they may be complete by the time you read this.

Requirements for this patch:
HD Space:
The 1.3 patch is currently about a 47MB download, with the bulk of that coming from additional maps, as well as updates to all the textures. The 1.3 download is designed to upgrade any previous version of BZ2 (1.0-1.2) to 1.3. Approximately 100MB free HD space is required to install this patch over and above the disk usage of your existing BZ2 install. So, at least 170MB free HD space is required to install, 250-300MB of free space really recommended.

If you're under 200MB free HD space, it is highly recommended that you get another HD. BZ2, like all Windows apps, uses your HD as swap (pagefile) space if your physical RAM is exhausted. You should have at least 100MB free (250MB recommended) on your HD before starting BZ2. The 1.3 installer can be deleted (or moved to another system, drive, CD backup, etc) before running 1.3 to get a bit more space.

CPU:
Battlezone II v1.3pb4a now requires Streaming SIMD Extensions (SSE), which were introduced with the Pentium III. AMD's Athlon XP (and newer) CPUs also support SSE. SSE provides some framerate boosts, and is now required.

Graphics Card:
Battlezone II v1.3 requires a graphics card (or integrated video) that has DirectX/Direct3D 8.0 (or higher) drivers.

RAM:
Battlezone II's original box specs noted that it required 64MB RAM. However, Windows 2000/XP/Vista and the like require more memory than that as their base specs. You should add at least 64MB RAM to what the requirements for your version of Windows are (see Microsoft's website for exact details). Thus, 192MB is a practical minimum amount of RAM for Win2000/XP, though Windows itself will crawl on such a system -- 384-512MB will be better.

Audio:
BZ2 also requires a audio output device (sound card, motherboard audio, etc) that supports DirectX 8.x. 3D positional audio is supported, but not required.

Operating System, DirectX:
Windows 98 and up should work, though for best results, Windows 2000/XP/Vista are recommended. DirectX 8.0 or higher is also required.

Note: I don't believe any testing has been done with Windows95, and as MS has long-since discontinued support for it, it may not be the best choice of OSs anymore. If 1.3 works on Win95, great. If not, you may be out of luck. Windows 98/ME are also out of official Microsoft support -- see http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx/gp/lifean18? . Some limited testing has been done with 1.3 on Win98/ME machines, but with no more critical updates released for them, you'll be at risk. BZ2 has now watched three MS operating systems get obsoleted, so you should consider upgrading Windows if you're not going to change your gameplay.

System Recommendations for this patch
Most testing and development of 1.3 has taken place on machines with at least a 500Mhz processor, 256MB ram, and a GeForce or better video card. This may be a good baseline; 1.5Ghz, 512MB ram, and a GeForce 2/Radeon 7200 or better might work even better. At least Windows 2000 is also recommended.

What uninstalling 1.3?
Sorry, there is no uninstaller for 1.3 specifically. For this reason, it is recommended that you reinstall BZ2 into a separate directory specifically for 1.3, and apply the 1.3 patch to that directory. There is no need to install any other patches (e.g. 1.2) before installing 1.3 -- there is only a cumulative patch able to upgrade any 1.x release of BZ2 to 1.3.

A sepatate 1.3 directory is the preferred method of installing 1.3, as it helps get rid of any debris left over from broken MODs that installed themselves into the data directory, doesn't have any compatability issues with MODs not yet updated for 1.3, and gives you a clean slate to begin with.

If you take this route, probably 500-600MB of free HD space before starting the separate install is required.
Will I get a bajillion FPS with 1.3 like I do with game XYZ
Almost certainly not. The way BZ2 was programmed, it handles most of the Transformation & Lighting (commonly abbreviated 'T&L') code on the CPU. Shortly after BZ2 came out, graphics cards progressed well enough that they could handle the T&L on them. However, rewriting BZ2's graphics code would be a massive undertaking, not least of which doing an extensive round of compatability testing with all of the various combinations of graphics cards and drivers. Thus, 1.3 will still use the same basic graphics code, mainly on your CPU. 1.3 has a few speed optimizations in place, most of them not in the graphics code-- AI overbuild (which should be fixed) can cripple your FPS, but isn't graphics code related.

1.3pb4a has an additional requirement of a CPU that supports Streaming SIMD Extensions (SSE), which was introduced with Intel's Pentium III family, and AMD's Athlon XP family. (And, later CPUs from them supported SSE as well.) Testers have noted that this produces a noticeable framerate boost -- not to stratospheric framerates, but definitely better than before SSE.

What about my overclocked system?
As noted above BZ2 puts much more work on your CPU than some other games. That amount of stress may expose faults in your overclocked setup far earlier than other games may do. If you are experiencing problems, then please try temporarily undoing your overclocking, and rerun BZ2. If the problem goes away, then the problem has been isolated to the overclocking, and not BZ2. No two applications use the same parts of the CPU, memory, etc, and "stability" in one application does not guarantee it being in all applications.


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