Progress Report: Windows Vista Game Compatibility

With Vista around the corner, we decided to see how our older games worked with Microsoft's upcoming operating system.

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Microsoft's new operating system radically departs from Windows XP. The company scrapped numerous legacy systems and upgraded others with improvements in networking, security, the desktop, and the component that matters most to us - DirectX, the technology that lets games talk to the system hardware.

Windows Vista makes a clean break from DirectX 9 and earlier versions by including two versions of DirectX. Vista will come with DirectX 10 and DirectX 9.0L. Older games will function by using DirectX 9.0L, and should, in theory, work fine. Microsoft has stated that games made for Windows XP will function, but games from the days of Windows 98 and DOS probably don't have much of a chance.

Standard Beta Disclaimer

Vista is still in Beta 2, and at least seven months from retail launch, but we had to see how our XP and older, classic games worked on Vista. We tested games from GameRanking's top-ten lists from the years 2000 to 2005, and we also tossed in a few notable games that were released prior to 2000 as well as a handful of games released this year.

We started testing with the GeForce 7900 GTX but quickly switched over to the Radeon X1900 XT after all the crashing games revealed that Nvidia's Vista drivers weren't quite mature enough for live testing. Note that this isn't indicative of Nvidia's final Vista performance levels. The OS is still over a half year away from launch, which gives Nvidia plenty of time to polish up its drivers.

Overall, only twelve games failed out of the thirty-five we tested. Most games worked fine after we patched all of them up to date. A few games automatically disabled the 3D desktop in order to function, but most didn't require us to fiddle around with any Vista settings to work. We encountered severe issues in a few games that made them difficult to play, but the nature of the bugs and the fact that the games could run leads us to believe that the problems have more to do with the immature state of video card drivers for Vista.

Age of Mythology
Plays great!

Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn
We could boot up and play the game. However cursor ghosting issues, massive frame rate slowdowns, and extensive rendering problems ruined the playing experience.

Battlefield 2
The single player version works fine, but when we tried to get our online fix, PunkBuster kept kicking us out of servers. We're also not sure if the mic works or not.

Black & White
Plays great!

Civilization IV
Stuck in "Ancient" age. We kept encountering a disk not found error while trying to launch the game. Patching and troubleshooting didn't help.

Command & Conquer Red Alert 2
Plays great!

Counter-Strike: Source
Plays great!

Deus Ex
Plays great!

Diablo II
Plays great!

Fallout 2
Plays great!

F.E.A.R.
Plays great!
Grand Theft Auto III
Plays great!

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
Plays great!

Guild Wars
Plays great!

Half-Life 2: Episode One
Plays great!

Half-Life 2: Lost Coast
Plays great!

Half-Life 2
Almost! We could get past the splash screen to the loading screen, but then the game crashes back to the desktop. It shouldn't be impossible to fix since Lost Coast worked perfectly.

Homeworld: Cataclysm
Plays great!

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
We could launch the game, but it only loads up the taskbar and a black screen which stays there permanently until you open the task manager and kill the task.
Max Payne
The game loads up, shows the introductory video, but then crashes back to the desktop.

Neverwinter Nights
We experienced a few minor graphical glitches, but the game was still more than playable.

No One Lives Forever 2: A Spy in H.A.R.M.'s Way
Plays great!

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Plays great!

Prey
Prey fails to load, and displays the following error in the id software loader: "The current video card/driver combination does not support the necessary features."

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
Plays great!

Return to Castle Wolfenstein
The game fails to load, and displays the following error in the id software loader: "The current video card/driver combination does not support the necessary features."

Rise of Nations
The game loads up, shows the introductory video, but then crashes back to the desktop.

RollerCoaster Tycoon
Plays great!

Rome: Total War
Flat out broken, the game never loads up at all. Vista displays a window that says that "Rome: Total War has stopped working."

Sacrifice
Plays great!

SimCity 4
The game loads long enough to display the EA logo video. Then it crashes right back to the desktop.

The Sims
Plays great!

The Sims 2
Plays great!

Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos
Plays great!

World of Warcraft
Plays great!

Discussion

516 comments
cephiro01
cephiro01

I miss Star Wars Pod Racers T_T

silencers3
silencers3

anyone know if final fantasy 11 works please message me on my gamespot account please :( i cant seem to get it playing...........

blittle
blittle

Perhaps it is time to update this list?

LucienValentine
LucienValentine

World of Warcraft runs slower than on my old XP machine (lower frame rate despite being on a substantially more powerful machine) and also crashed from time to time (kicks me out of the game with a 'fatal exception' error). Not impressed!

Koinuyayhigh
Koinuyayhigh

I can't get oblivion to work when I click on it it says Nixadapterdesc::getdevicecaps()failed Can someone tell me how I can fix it? and it says that wow needs directx 9 but it isn't compatible with vista....-.-

Mavus1
Mavus1

does fable work?

zooz12
zooz12

tazmarie wrote: "I have doom 3 and it doesn't play in windows vista" Why not? for me it plays great!

tazmarie
tazmarie

I have doom 3 and it doesn't play in windows vista

crave4more
crave4more

has anyone tried system shock 2? i can get to the menu, change all the options and then go to start a new game and i get full loading screen then a black screen.... real annoying :(

LordSephiroth34
LordSephiroth34

I wonder how battle for middle-earth 2 (also the expansion) and the 2 empire at war games are played

lax007
lax007

Does anybody knows will battlefield 2142 work on vista ultimate 64bit

killerofzombies
killerofzombies

Does anyone know if halo 2 will come out for the xp as well, like another version?

KAHUNASEAL21
KAHUNASEAL21

does metal gear solid 2 substace works with vista?

Urban_Shark
Urban_Shark

Hi To get Battlefield 2 to work online right-click on BF2.exe and then click run administrator. This also works on Star Wars Galaxies. This also may work on other games.

pomerleau187
pomerleau187

cant get Battlestations: midway to work on vista yet , the game loads up but after 10 secs of playing the game it crashes anyone hav any ideas on how to fix it ? Running 2 gig ram 7900 gtx nvidia

midn8t
midn8t

battleifled 2142 dose not work, loads up then crashes flat out broken says game error is battlefield 2142 has stopped working please search for a fix.

franc0-shade
franc0-shade

I had the same issues with Half Life 2 also. Shame, I really wanted to get back into it!

woodz2222
woodz2222

H i all i have just been looking at the games that are vista compatible and i couldn't help notice that it says that RISE OF NATIONS is not compatible it says on here that the game loads up, shows the introductory video, but then crashes back to the desktop i have a NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTX XXX Edition 768MB gDDR3 graphics card installed so anyway i went and bought windows vista ultimate today and i installed it and i then installed RISE OF NATIONS and i ran the game and it worked fine the only problem is that the sound on the game is jumpy and i checked my sound card and it was all working correctly as i had music playing so the game oes work for me on windows vista ultimate and therefore must work with windows vista afterall i can pove what i am saying if you want evidence of the game working on windows vista

AdamK47
AdamK47

supergamer1289, look at the date the article was written. This compatibility test was from beta 2 of Vista. Game compatibility has gone way up with the official release of Vista.

supergamer1289
supergamer1289

Sigh, Gamespot did not do a very good job in testing these games out. I recommend this website: http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,1697,1969005,00.asp Here is how too fix battlefield two: The solution is simple enough: right-click the BF2 icon, choose Properties, and then in the Compatibility tab check the box that says "Run this program as an administrator." After doing this, we encountered no problems joining any server.

senjutsu
senjutsu

WHAT? I mean, at LEAST HL2 should work if they want me to install it, and prey too!!!!!! If they cannot make they work for the release nobody will install their crap...

Glordit
Glordit

well looks like Vista is ready, cept for some.... wiat HF2 wont work... it... can't be... NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Shadowfire14
Shadowfire14

i hope that bf:2142 works as well as halo and the ce version.

Leon243
Leon243

I hope halo 1 works in the windows vista

CaptainLam
CaptainLam

Vista still needs more work to be done to support the best games out there. Until there is proof that Vista can run current and recent games, it would be best to stick with XP. Vista wouldn't be much without our favorite games.

toamax2
toamax2

douse splinter cell 3 work

halofreak3487
halofreak3487

forget vista, i'm just waiting for directx 10 cards

Shadow230990
Shadow230990

The Doom³ engine IS functional, but has some really weird ass shadow errors and super-low quality textures. Halo 1, despite having a "known compatibility problems" dialog, works perfectly, even online! :)

lesner87
lesner87

they will need to come up with something before retail version of vista is released!

bigelf72
bigelf72

hmm....Alchohol 120% wont work....alright...im going back to win xp screw vista for now.

bigelf72
bigelf72

I'm on 32-bit Vista Rc-1....I'm having issues....some one tell me what to do to fix em. World of Warcraft gets these lag spikes every 15 er so seconds that i never got on xp and i dont get them on my laptop. Fear gets these lag spikes every 15 er so seconds that i never got on xp and i dont get them on my laptop Albatross18 doesn't work :( I have ff7 for pc...ill install it right now to see if it works...ill post back in a few

themacintrasher
themacintrasher

if anyone knows how to use halflife 2 on vista i'd love 2 know

Raventhorn
Raventhorn

I have Vista RC1 installed and am going through every game I have (which is large list) and reporting to MS what works and what does not...cannot speak for FF7 since I dont have it, but here is a list of games that I have seen work: Battlefield 2 (which failed for a while to even install in older betas). Everquest 2 ( although one of the expansions had graphic lockups but still installed ). Had problems updating the Launcher....MS knows and is fixing. Oblivion (runs smoother than a baby's rump). The Movies Guild Wars Games that failed: IGN's downloader....go figure. Company of Heroes Single Player Demo (looks for DX9 files!?). If you want to find out if a game is running, email my account and I will let you know if I have it and if it works with RC1. Remember it is RC1...and having been a Microsoft employee...I can bet they will have one more RC before launch and that they are HOT for fixing compatibility issues.

softcloud
softcloud

Will FF7 for PC be compatible with Vista???????? Somebody HAS to know!!!!

applehazelnut
applehazelnut

You have to turn off DEP (data execution prevention) in Vista in order of Act of War to work in Vista RC1

lt_nick
lt_nick

remember the power of emulation maby some smartass can make an 32 bit compatibility emulator so u can run all ur win32 compatible games (sorry for my bad english....reason: im dutch and 15

foxer_2005
foxer_2005

BTW I tried Act Of War - Direct Action on my Windows vista beta 2 -Build 5384 and it didn't work. But on my XP it works fine.

SciFiShooterGUY
SciFiShooterGUY

I hate beta OS's. I just don't trust them enough to use them. And to hear that it's just theory that all my current games will run on Vista, Pffft... Forget about it, I will wait a few months for firm proof of that. Ok, what I really want to know is where can I find a list of games that are going to be for the Vista OS, that will also run on XP? Like, for example Crysis and Hellgate, are rumored to be Windows Vista games. But wont they run on XP? Yeah I know there is much better graphics with Vista DirectX10. But I like the way DirectX9.0c looks just as well. I'm already impressed with directX 9.0c compatibility. I don't need to be impressed even more, just yet, for a while. Well, there is one solution I guess. Buy a seperate Hard Drive for Vista.

foxer_2005
foxer_2005

Most of them new games like Prey!

Prowler_88
Prowler_88

Haha kevinr100 It's INPUT, not IMPUT Put up with the l337 speak mate...We are on a gaming website after all.

The1stFishBone
The1stFishBone

battlefield 2 doesnt run period, that means nothing. id games are open gl. so dont expect them to run. surprised about hl2

kevinr100
kevinr100

Jeez - I just read all of the posts and the main thing that strikes me is that just below this imput is a SPELL CHECKER. Bad spelling & leet speak just helps to show your lack of education (to whom it may concern). ps. other nationalities excluded (non english speaking).

drakem
drakem

all the problems are the 64-bit drivers and hardware, not all of the 32-bit hardware will be useful for windows vista. Start to save some money to upgrade your computer.

jaflash
jaflash

i thought vista made gaems work 6 times faster according to microsoft my windows xp service pack 2 computer with intel celeron 2.6 ghz and 512 megs of ram and ati saphire x1600 pro card can work on vista but i think it would take hours to load even with all the fansy stuff off

_IRONBERG_
_IRONBERG_

hmmm... I got Half Life 2 to work on my vista beta.

recalcitrant1
recalcitrant1

Of course the visuals are going to look and run gash Drowninginjello. It's designed for directx10, which you don't have, and its designed for cards with directx10 drivers, which you also don't have. You're obviously too young to remember the uproar over switching from dos to 3.11, to win 95, to xp. It's called "progress".