Sunday, August 29, 2010

How Avast! 5.0 Antivirus can be Temporarily Disabled

This is crazy but exactly two years ago and I mean EXACTLY two years ago, I wrote a guide on how to temporarily disable Avast! That handy guide showed a simple procedure to end several antivirus processes in the Windows Task Manager, freeing up memory and improving game performance for gaming PCs. While the procedure was easy, it still was unwieldy, forcing PC tweakers to locate eight or so antivirus processes on the Task Manager interface. Fast forward to the present and Alwil Software has greatly streamlined their freeware antivirus product, presenting a spiffy UI and enhanced tweakability.

Want to know how to temporarily disable Avast! 5.0's real-time shields to free up memory space? Click the link below:

NOTE: Disabling your anti-virus software is a risky affair. I'm only posting this for my personal reference. Do the procedure at your own risk. (It does however, free up your system resources while gaming and will greatly improve performance. I promptly undo the procedure everytime I finish gaming however. )

On the UI, under "Real-Time Shields", Avast! 5.0 now presents users nearly all the processes under a single list, doing away with the need to hunt down all seven from the Windows Task Manager:

You can then choose to stop each Real-Time Shield individually.

There's a quicker way to do this though. Right click on the Avast! 5.0 icon on your task bar. It will show you this pop-up screen:

Under Avast! Shields Control you can now choose to disable the Real-Time Shields. For gaming purposes, I suggest you pick "Disable until computer is restarted." This way after gaming, you can then restart your gaming PC, activating all the real-time shields.

The above process though leaves "AvastSVC.exe" and "AvastUI.exe" running, two process that gobble more than 25Mb of memory. These processes can't be found on the "Real-Time Shields" menu and can't be stopped just by clicking "End Process" on the Windows Task Manager.

In order for you to disable the two, go to "Settings" then click "Troubleshooting":

Once there, uncheck "Enable avast! Self-defense module." This will allow you to disable the two services. Go back now to the Windows Task Manager, choose the processes and click "End Process." Done!

Note: After gaming, I restart my PC, which will cause Avast! to run again. I then go back to Avast!'s Program Settings and uncheck "Disable Avast! self-defense module." I never forget to do this as it's dangerous to leave it checked. Also, I do not surf the Net if Avast! is in any way disabled.

>>>Click here to

Monday, August 23, 2010

Quake Wars Demo Gameplay Video

I spent most of yesterday getting some R&R after attending two birthday bashes. I got nostalgic and decided to try out the Enemy Territory: Quake Wars demo. Happy to see it still has a robust community.

Quake Wars still lives! I played in a server filled to the brim with REAL people and won a "Best in Light Weapons" award.

After the jump: the awesome behind-kicking vid filled with Lacerators, tanks, railguns, and kablooey!s that will drive Michael Bay go running off crying to his momma.

Click the line below to see the vid:

>>>Click here to

Thursday, August 19, 2010

About the Freeware Games on my Site

[UPDATE: Thanks to blogger Alexgophermix, I just learned that EA has revamped their Command & Conquer Classics page. Links to the free games now redirect to the Command & Conquer: Last Decade PC games package. This doesn't change a thing though. Command & Conquer, Command & Conquer: Red Alert, and Command & Conquer: Firestorm are still free games. Reputable sites like Gamespot still host the full versions of these PC freeware classics.]

Some visitor just complained about Firestorm not being free. His complaint reads:

"that link u said was free to download command and conquer game,, is not free man. it asked u to join gamespot or watever the site is and asks for a credit card number.. dont lie about that stuff"

First off, the link I provided in my "Free Full Version PC Strategy Games News: Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun and Firestorm Released as Freeware" article, directs you to the OFFICIAL EA Command and Conquer Classics site. Clicking on any one of those games redirects you to the official host of that game, which is Fileplanet, not Gamespot.

"Freeware downloads commander!" in all caps. In yellow font. On the header. On the OFFICIAL EA Command & Conquer Classics page.

Second, any gamer who has downloaded a fair share of patches, mods, and the occasional freeware knows that downloading files from Fileplanet and Gamespot requires you to register first and that the REGISTRATION PROCESS FOR BOTH SITES IS FREE.

There are two types of servers: the free public ones and the ones for the subscribers. Choose any one of the free ones (take note of the queue times).

Third, Fileplanet now also requires you to install COMRADE, their very own download manager that connects you to other players. It's a bit like Steam's auto-updater, the old Gamespy or Xfire. AGAIN, THE SERVICE IS FREE.


"As of February 12, 2010, Electronic Arts has made the game available to download for free in order to promote their latest game in Command & Conquer series.[2] This version of Tiberian Sun was extracted from The First Decade compilation by Electronic Arts, and has been found broken, as it fails to play the Nod introduction movie, among other newly introduced bugs with the EA's release of The First Decade."

This site does not condone piracy. All games reviewed here are freeware (unless otherwise noted like the retail games I've bought or the demos I've reviewed) --- they are legal to download. My December 20, 2008 article draws out my stance regarding piracy.

Please google and check the facts first before laying down accusations.

Thank you and happy gaming.

>>>Click here to

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Online PC Multiplayer Shooter Booster Trooper Review

Last weekend, Steam temporarily released Booster Trooper for free. I gave it a test run and while it reeks pretty much of Soldat, a freeware online PC multiplayer shooter, the sci-fi trappings, the physics effect, and the 2.5D look give this game a more polished feel.

My Booster Trooper user review after the jump. Unlike most multiplayer games today, Booster Trooper is not a class-based game. Nonetheless, it does offer players quite an impressive arsenal to tweak their pre-spawn loadouts with:

Main Weapons

Assault Rifle - Default weapon; high rate of fire; maximum range; low damage
Shotgun - Single-shot; standard shotgun mechanics: high damage output at close range but effectiveness ramps down steeply as the range between combatants widens
Chaingun - High rate of fire; maximum range; high damage; very slow startup time
Sniper Rifle - Self-explanatory
Rocket Launcher - single shot; very low reload speed; massive damage

Secondary Weapons

Pistol - Didn't get to use this one
Handcutter - close-range melee weapon; high damage

>>>Don't want to bother with Steam? Click HERE for free (legal to download) PC multiplayer shooters


Grenade - Self-explanatory
Shredder - Sticky grenades that act as mines with short fuses; they detonate after three or so seconds if no enemy comes near them

In addition there are several special weapons that spawn regularly in specific locations in each map.

What surprised me with this one---given the technology it uses---is that beyond the jetpacks (which let players fly around for short bursts before needing to recharge) and the mix of 2.5D side-scrolling action with modern graphics and physics effects, Booster Trooper is a no-frills CTF/fragmatch multiplayer game in the spirit of Soldat and Quake. Why they didn't introduce innovative tweaks like a Tribes-like ski effect (with maps riddled with slopes), deployable turrets, and classes ala Team Fortress or Alien Swarm is something that seems such a waste.

I also do not like the way the soldiers cry out when they get hit. The cries are anemic and somewhat annoying (and disturbing) to hear. This aside, the other audio aspects of Booster Trooper are awesome: weapons are very satisfying to shoot, jetpacks sound as they should, explosions reverberate, and there's something really addictive in hearing a rocket being chambered.

Booster Trooper is not something that I would play for more than two hours each day but I think this is how the designers wanted it to be. A
solid, impressive PC multiplayer shooter that's a perfect escape if you want a quick 20-minute gaming fix. Wham! Bang! Thank you ma'am!

I just lopped off and cauterized one side of your torso with the mother of all lightsabers.

>>>Click here to

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Half-Life 2 (Unofficial) Movie Trailers

Scrounged up some fan-made videos. These are top-notch and can almost fool you into thinking they were made by some major studio.

The Half-Life 2 fan-made movie trailers after the jump.

Beyond Black Mesa:

Things I found amusing/meritorious:

- Adrian Shephard is the main character of a Half-Life expansion
- A strider! In a low-budget trailer!
- They have it down pat:

  • The grenades' trademark red glow
  • The resistance armband
  • The "caste" graffiti in the final frames of the trailer

>>>Click HERE to see Half-Life 2 console command CVar tweaks that I use

Escape From City 17 Part One:

Things I found amusing/meritorious:

- Like in the game, there are structures/objects in the film that have highly-saturated hues. Kudos to the art director/cinematographer.

They have it down pat:
- The firearms and CGIs are perfect, including the PA system
- Like in the game, Combine soldiers emit this high-pitched sound when they die

>>>Interested in free (legal) first-person shooter single- and multi-player games? Click.

>>>Click here to

Half-Life 2 CVar Console Command Tweaks

When Half-Life 2 was launched, it was plagued with performance and stutter problems. Five years later, console commands and patches have fixed these --- I've bought a copy of The Orange Box, and my experience has so far been flawless(except that to my chagrin Gordon Freeman still feels more "glidey" than other FPS protagonists, albeit less so compared to how he moved in the first Half-Life; nausea-inducing, that one).

Being the tweak monkey that I am however, I still scrounged around for Half-Life 2 console commands and PC performance tweaks and found hundreds of CVars on the web. I picked several, applied them, and when I fired up my newest first-person shooter game, well, the changes are nothing to write home about but hey, anything to elevate a flawless experience into a cathartic romp stomping Xen transdimensional beings and Combine soldiers right?

The Half-Life 2 console commands that I use---and how to apply them to the Half-Life 2 exe---after the jump.

No one "owns" these commands as they are common knowledge. However, Koroush Ghazi of has compiled many of the most useful Half-Life 2 CVars and provided parameters and explanations in his Half-Life 2 tweak guide. For a more thorough rundown, I would advise you to visit the above page as the list below is just my personal "quick scan" reference (read: these are settings for my PC; these are not for ultra-low-end systems), just in case my hard drive suddenly goes postal:


+mem_max_heapsize 1024 - memory-related performance tweak; see the HL2 tweak guide

+cl_forcepreload 1 – Forces the game to preload everything during loadup times, eliminating stutter but lengthening the loading process.

+ai_expression_optimization 1 – Forces the game not to render NPC expression that you can’t see. (Much like that Doom 3 cull command)

+ r_threaded_particles 1 – Multi-thread-related tweak; see the HL2 tweak guide

+ r_threaded_renderables 1 - Multi-thread-related tweak; see the HL2 tweak guide

+ mat_queue_mode 2 - Multi-core-related tweak; see the HL2 tweak guide

>>>Interested in free (legal) first-person shooter single- and multi-player games? Click.


+ snd_mix_async 1 – Audio tweak; see the HL2 tweak guide

+ dsp_enhance_stereo 1 – audio improvement tweak

Graphics Improvement

+ mat_picmip -1 (I checked the console and the “highest”---lowest on the number line---Half-Life 2 setting for this tweak is “-1.”)

+ mat_parallaxmap 1 – Graphics tweak; see the HL2 tweak guide for a thorough explanation


-novid – eliminates the intro Valve movie, speeding up startup load time

+sv_autosave 0 – eliminates those annoying autosaves that shatter immersion

I linked all these into:

-novid +mem_max_heapsize 1024 +sv_autosave 0 +cl_forcepreload 1 +ai_expression_optimization 1 +r_threaded_particles 1 +r_threaded_renderables 1 +snd_mix_async 1 +mat_queue_mode 2 +mat_picmip -1 +mat_parallaxmap 1 +dsp_enhance_stereo 1

I then inserted the line into Half-Life 2's "Launch Options" (accessible by right-clicking the game's title and navigating to Properties > General > Set Launch Options) in Steam:

>>>Click here to

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Freeware PC Multiplayer Game Alien Swarm Gameplay Videos

[UPDATED: All seven gameplay videos of the Alien Swarm campaign "Jacob's Rest" are now up.]

Alien Swarm gameplay videos of a "Jacob's Rest" campaign run with three other players. The freeware multiplayer game is a top-down PC shooter powered by the Source engine.

Here's the first one:

>>>Want to see the specs of the budget gaming PC used to run this free to play squad-based multiplayer game?

The rest of the gameplay videos after the jump (I'll upload the last two Alien Swarm gameplay videos later).

Part 2:

>>>Shooting alien filth not your thing? See free PC RPG games HERE

Part 3:

Part 4:

>>>This game not tactical enough for you? See free PC strategy games HERE

Part 5:

Part 6 (of 7):

Part 7:

>>>Still can't get enough? See more free PC FPS games HERE

>>>Click here to