Although it hasn't officially shipped yet, Painkiller is apparently already giving some PC gamers a major headache.
While many gamers who received the DreamCatcher-published shooter early, either from overeager retailers or premature preorder shipments, have encountered no difficulties, some have reported serious technical problems. Specifically, purchasers said they encountered "application error #(0xcoooooo5)" while attempting to launch the game. According to posts on the DreamCatcher forums, the error made the game unplayable.
Since the error in question often occurs with illegal copies of games, many blame Painkiller's copyright protection for the instillation issues--and they're not happy. "It seems Painkiller is going to be the biggest game copy protection scandal in history," fumed one gamer in an e-mail to GameSpot.
Angry hyperbole aside, there is some evidence that DreamCatcher knew about Painkiler's problems before it found its way to retail. An April 5 moderator post on the official Painkiller forums warns that the game is not compatible with seven CD and DVD drives: the ASUS CD-S400, the Pan International CyberDrive 240, the Matshita CR-581-B, the Philips CDD2000, the LG GDR-8161B, the Toshiba HL-DT-STDVD-ROM GDR-8081N (Sep 2002 Laptop drive), and the LG HL-DT-STDVDRAM GMA-4020B Apr 2003 IDE (internal drive). Problems with the HL-ST-DVDRAM GSA-4081 and YAMAHA CRW-F1E were also reported.
However, Robert Stevenson, DreamCatcher's vice president of product development and the producer of Painkiller, says the problems have been exaggerated. "Currently just about everyone can play Painkiller without a hitch," he told GameSpot. Stevenson also explained that Painkiller uses Macrovision's SafeDisc, the same system used on Call of Duty, Prince of Persia, Syberia 2, and many other titles. "The game has been tested with hundreds of drives with no problems and most of the support calls and emails to date (bearing in mind that Painkiller has been available in several places in Europe all week) have been on disabling emulators and not CD/DVD drive hardware problems," he said.
Stevenson also answered the question on most potential Painkiller purchasers' minds--when will it be patched? "A Painkiller 1.1 update is in testing now should be ready late next week," he said. But he stressed that the update is no mere patch. "It will offer some more professional level multiplayer features as well as a new multiplayer map," he said. "Some known issues will, of course, be addressed in it as well."