Well, after a while of thinking that the whole thing might just become vaporware, Mektek did release the free Mechwarrior 4: Mercenaries game as promised yesterday, in conjunction with Microsoft.
Problem is that within about an hour or two the name-servers for their domain failed and while they came up a few hours ago, the Web-site itself is now looking deceased – which also essentially kills Mektek’s digital download system. If, however, you’ve got about 1.8GB of bandwidth free, you can still get the release and get it to work.
MTX, the digital delivery client, goes off and fetches a torrent. Specifically, it fetches this torrent. Fire up any BitTorrent client and roughly 1.8GB later you’ll have a file called mechwarrior4mercenaries.all.to.51.03.01.0017.mtx.
You can try loading that into the MTX software via the file-menu, but frankly, that doesn’t seem to work at all.
You can grab the MTX installer here (15.54MB). It hasn’t been tampered with, but don’t take my word for that. You should always do a scan for malware if you don’t know who you’re getting a file from. To make life easier you should install and run MTX at least once, just to let it set up a few key registry settings. If the Mektek Web-site is back up by the time you do, then you’ve also saved yourself a few steps.
Instead, rename the file to a zip file (mechwarrior4mercenaries.all.to.51.03.01.0017.zip) and unpack it wherever the heck you want it to go. You’ll need an additional 2GB of space for that.
Then go to the directory you installed to, and create a shortcut to MW4Mercs.exe (in the Base sub-folder). Why a shortcut rather than running it directly? I’ll get back to that in a second.
Run it, let it get to the start screen where you have the option to create a profile. Go click on the [X] in the top right corner to exit the application. It’s now stored the first-run status and created some registry entries. If it hangs during the next step, at least that part is out of the way.
Now run it again. When you click New Profile from the start screen, the application might hang. If it does, then kill the process, edit the shortcut and add /gosnovideo to the shortcut, and launch using that.
See? I told you I’d get to that. Then start the application again, and create your profile. You should be able to exit and run without the option after that, but you know what to do if it hangs the same way again.
And there you go. It’d be very nice to – you know – actually have a manual for the game, but the distribution doesn’t seem to include one. It might be on the Mektek Web-site, but that’s still down and there are some rumors circulating that suggest it may not come back.
Beyond all of this you might have some additional problems that I’m not having with the release. Good luck with those, because my ability to do long-distance tech-support is pretty limited, so I’m not the person to ask.
Should the Mektek Web-site actually come back online, well, hooray. Otherwise, you’ve done by hand what MTX is supposed to do automatically.
Why does it ask for a CD on my system?
You’ve got registry entries from an original Mechwarrior 4 installation (or perhaps from a demo installation of it). Pull open regedit, browse to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Microsoft Games and delete the registry keys for Mechwarrior 4 and Mechwarrior Mercenaries that you find there. That should sort it out. [addendum: There’s a single key down in there called CDPath, and removing that one should be enough to bypass the legacy bit of code]
As always, you should be extremely careful when registry editing so that you don’t break anything that you still want.