That’s right, Starforce killing an OS installation completely (at least until registry recovery). I want to know if it’s a first, since I can’t find any trace of anything like this happening (though I can find my share of computer slowdowns and other nasty side effects).
This happened to my friend. He called me (the computer techie of the group) because a game he just bought wouldn’t run on his PC (a laptop), rather it would make it reboot. So I went to see since he might be the best person around when it comes to other things, but I really couldn’t extract much information about what really happened with his PC on the phone.
I went to his place and, since I wanted to see how it went, tried uninstalling and reinstalling the game (1944: Battle of the Bulge). It installs fine, really. Smooth installation process until you get the choice of seeing the readme and the installer closes properly. But the first time you run the game you get a message that the copy protection is now installed and it prompts you to restart your computer. If you say ‘no’ the game won’t start. If you say ‘yes’ the computer starts rebooting, and…
Now for the bad part: windows xp boot up process goes on for a ~20 seconds, shows the logo, goes to blank screen… then a dreaded BSOD appears for a small fraction of second! Then the PC reboots again, giving you the choice of booting normally, in safe mode, or using the last known working configuration.
We didn’t manage to see what the error message said… :a we even started joking on how it would be stamped in our brains like a subliminal message and if we ever got hypno therapy we would start mumbling the hexadecimal numbers in it… anyway…
Best I could think of was that maybe we needed a patch from the game developer, so we went online to check. But of course there is none at their site, nor is there any mention of such a problem as being common. Since he has dial-up access I didn’t want this to take too long and we stopped there. I said I’d look for more info from my place and relay any useful information to him.
A lot of googling revealed that this game apparently uses Starforce. Nice, I thought. So it’s the dreaded copy protection scheme that installs components on your system at the driver level… which means these drivers somehow break my friend’s laptop.
Some petty info about this laptop: an HP-brand, Celeron 2.8 GHz, 256 MB RAM, ATI mobility radeon 9000 IGP, a NEC DVD+RW ND5100-A, OS is WinXP Home Edition with SP1.
I suppose I could tell him he’s lucky it’s not working because otherwise his computer would grow a will of its own… But, do you think there’s anything he could try?
…At least to manage to read the BSOD screen?
Before you ask, yes, all of this is happening with a legit copy of the game - but then again, even if it was pirated, it would be supposed to just prevent you from playing and not break your OS.