Stay far away from Dark Messiah

I did something uncharacteristic and pre-ordered Ubisoft’s new Might and Magic game, Dark Messiah, after playing the demo. The demo ran fine on my system, I love this style of game, and I was looking forward to it. Its retail release is a pile of steaming crap, however, and this post is a warning to anyone considering buying it – don’t. Wait until they patch it such that it works as it was intended. Right now it appears it’s a crap shoot in terms of whether the game will run on your system, and I’m one of the folks who simply cannot get it to run without crashing after the start of the first level. In the last 3 days, I’ve:

* Reinstalled directx9.0c, october edition (and thanks so very much for abandoning version numbers for Directx, Microsoft. You suck)
* Reinstalled the video drivers for my video card. Anyone who’s been through this with an ATI card knows what a time consuming pain in the ass that is.
* Reinstalled the MS audio framework and audio drivers for my sound card.
* used Valve’s Steam interface to rebuild my installed game files, repeatedly.
* Tinkered endlessly with the video and audio settings inside the game in an effort to get it running. I do not exaggerate, I have launched the game at least 20-30 times.
* Tried every tweak and setting suggestion found in Valve and in Ubisoft’s forums.

Despite all this, at the conclusion of the in-game cinematic at the beginning of chapter 1, the game locks up, most of the time locking up my entire system, something which very rarely happens. Ubisoft and the developers should be ashamed of themselves for releasing a game in such a buggy state. I know this isn’t true but it feels at this point like I’ve done more testing on their damned game than they have. I’m also not alone with this problem – not everyone is having it, but a significant number of players are, as well as a host of additional issues.

I’ve asked Valve for a refund since I bought it on Steam and since from my perspective it reflects badly on Steam. I doubt I’ll get it though since their terms of service are that no refunds will be granted. This in itself seems unfair to me. If I bought it at retail, I understand why I can’t return it because once I’ve installed it on my computer the retailer has no idea whether I’ve removed it before returning the game. Valve absolutely knows because of how Steam works, and they should grant refunds for helplessly buggy games like this.

The greatest shame is that the game shows promise. The in-game cinematic that happens right before the crash is excellent. I can’t think of the last time I’ve had such a promising tease from a game I can’t actually play. I’m pissed.

Anyway you’ve been warned – stay away until Ubisoft addresses this with substantive patches.

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