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Armada is a real-time strategy game in which you build fleets of starships, explore weapon systems, for four different parties, but without a complicated economy, such as in Stronghold Crusader. In particular the special weapons offer a rich strategic moment. Basically, it's all about overpowering the enemy with good attack tactics and a good selection of special weapons. In multiplayer, however, you quickly notice that macro management also contributes a lot to who wins and who doesn't.
The storyline starts after the Dominon War and covers the four races Borg, Federation, Klingons and Romulans. While the first tries to assimilate the Alpha Quadrant (and take possession of the Omega particle), the Federation fights against those very attempts. The Romulans also have an interest in the Omaga particle. The Klingons, on the other hand, are driven by Toral, who tries to install himself as ruler with the help of a fake sword of Kahles.
The game was released by Activision, but after some disputes with Paramount (represented by Viacom) they returned the license for Star Trek games in general. For this reason, Armada and the other Star Trek games from Activision will no longer be distributed. Therefore the game is not available at GOG or other retailers. Therefore, only the second-hand trade remains, e.g. via eBay or Amazon Market Place.
As always: Install, patch, if necessary copy crack over. Patch 1.3 should be applied after patch 1.2. The installer from the CD is unfortunately not the fastest and the game tends to have sound bugs on XP. On XP it runs in principle. Basically you should either install the game regularly or at least copy it. For the details, see below. For a fresh installation the patches should be applied. Depending on whether you use 1.2 or 1.3, the crack for the single player might be useful. 1.3 also allows widescreen resolutions and fixes a few bugs beyond the 1.2 patch. And last but not least, it removes the CD check, so you don't need a crack anymore. If you want to play 1.2 with crack, you should make a backup of the
armada.exe, because network games don't work with the cracked version. The English version has much better unit messages and cutscenes.
At least under Win 98 it is almost mandatory to install the game. On a fresh Win 98 Armada does not run from a copied folder. So install it regularly and apply the patches. Under Win 98 the 1.3 patch doesn't work. Therefore, keep a pre-installed version to be able to copy it over. The game comes with its own installer, which (especially on older computers) takes quite a long time to install the game, but that's normal. The game requires DirectX, but this is included. If you install the game, then the first major problem may already occur during the installation. Under Windows ME, I've found that the moment you click “Change Directory”, the installer freezes the entire system. In this case it is necessary to copy the game manually by simply copying all the files from the
setup directory of the installation CD to a directory named accordingly, with the exception of the data directory. The contents of
data must be in the same directory as the rest, but without the directory
data containing it. Only its contents. In this case the patch cannot be installed normally, because the information from the registry is missing. Then you have to get the corresponding files from someone else and copy them in manually (the patch installer looks in the registry for the path in which Armada should be installed, but it doesn't exist with manual “installation”). Therefore it is recommended to install the game completely at least once and to apply the patch 1.2. Then you can simply compress the game directory as it is and store the archive. On LAN the game might work without patch 1.2 if the other players play the same version. But patch 1.2 fixes some annoying problems of the game (e.g. units can now be handled better than before). It's definitely worth it. Only the AI is somehow totally overprivileged, in difficult mode, and medium mode (you'll quickly notice that when you switch to 1.2). It then cheats at the tech tree and the construction time/-cost.
Here you can install, patch and crack everything straight forward without any problems. I don't know if a pre-installed version is still running without an installation, if you use patch 1.3. The difficulties here are more with the sound problems. If you leave the DirectX settings as they are by default, the sound will stutter, or the sounds will be chopped or not played at all. This can be fixed by turning off the sound acceleration or setting it to the lowest level. You can do this with the tool
dxdiag, which you can start by
Run. However, it is advisable to set this back after playing, as otherwise the sound will be stuttering in other applications (e. g. VLC). If you want to get a Win-98 version 1.3, you can do the installation on XP & Co. and save the resulting directory. With that you can use the instructions above.
There are no more sound problems here (at least not with patch 1.3), but on some systems there are graphics problems in the main and campaign menu. Sometimes the textures from the previous menu are displayed, so that the buttons are no longer visible. The combination Win 7 x64 + Nvidia driver version 320.49 causes problems. But an update fixed that. Apart from that it works quite well.
The only requirement for playing: Run it with XP SP 2 or 3 compatibility mode and with administrator rights (or fall back on Runas Spc). After that, however, it runs pleasantly smoothly on current systems. With GameRanger you can even play Armada via internet under Win 7. The only problem are occasional crashes when the game has been running for a while (not only multiplayer is affected). However, there are more and more signs that this has something to do with the Windows updates in the background. Most problems with sudden crashes obviously occur when updates are searched for in the background or when the notifier reports that updates have been found. It is recommended to turn off the update service for testing purposes. Experience shows that crashes only occur after a while. 3 PC opponents on easy are no problem considering play time. An 8 player map with 7 PC opponents on medium or heavy takes sufficiently long to be confronted with the problem in general. In principle, a loss of progress (partly) can only be avoided by frequently saving (this also works for non-campaign rounds). How this works in multiplayer is still untested.
There's more to be done here:
It is possible that the game cannot be started via the starter (
slaunch.exe), but directly via the binary (
Armada.exe). In addition it can happen that Armada “takes a few rounds”, i. e. the screen turns black, then the splash screen appears again, until the actual game finally comes up.
The game is basically a bit sluggish when it comes to control. But you can compensate with lower resolutions, especially on slower systems. It doesn't look so great, but it's certainly more pleasant than dropped inputs and slow reactions. The 1.3 patch gives the game 16:9 and 16:10 resolutions in addition to the original 4:3 resolutions, if supported by the hardware. On current systems, however, one can enjoy the full range.
There's basically not much to explain. Most of it is like in other games:
Grafikmodus: Resolution and color depth.
Grafiktreiber: If you have multiple graphics cards or drivers installed, you can choose one here, but usually there's no choice anyway.
Andere Schriftart verwenden: With this, Armada uses graphic fonts, not standard fonts. Standard, of course, is displayed faster.
Video-Sequenzen: Should the current events be displayed as a video sequence in the lower right corner of the window or not? If not, the window content is simply overlayed with an icon. Reduces the load on the computer if the game jolts.
Grafikdetails: It should be clear what this is for. The higher, the better it looks, but the more system resources the game requires.
One small annoyance can be remedied if one is not completely satisfied with the standard overview. Armada starts by default zoomed in quite far, which in my opinion doesn't help the overview of the events at all. In principle, you can now adjust this zoom by holding down both mouse buttons at the same time. (It's a bit bumpy, but once you got the hang of it, it works. First the right button, then the left one, in between make sure that you don't move the mouse.) But you can also adjust this setting in the
RTS_CFG.h file. There you can find this line:
float OVERVIEW_INIT_HEIGHT = 1000.0;
That is the value of how far the game starts zoomed out when a match or campaign mission is loaded. I usually use the maximum value here because everything else is kind of silly. Who likes to limit themselves unnecessarily? You can set the maximum value in this line:
float OVERVIEW_MAX_HEIGHT = 1000.0;
1000.0 are deliberately chosen in this example. If you set more, parts of the map start to disappear. At least with the default settings. You can also increase the clipping area by adjusting the
ART_CFG.h file accordingly. The line with:
float FAR_CLIPPING_PLANE = 1400.0;
is the reason why you can't see anything on the map after a certain distance. You can set it generously to
20000.0. Then you can extend the
OVERVIEW_MAX_HEIGHT accordingly. Normally it is sufficient to be in the range of 5000. With this you can already see practically the whole map.
At this point, a warning needs to be given: According to the larger overview this of course requires more computations from the system, so that the CPU load will increase and the game may start to jolt. Especially if many fog and other elements have to be rendered, the game jolts even on current computers.
If one uses such zoom levels, one will notice very quickly that even at maximum scroll speed, the scroll is sufficiently slow. This can be changed by turning up the parameters
MAX_SCROLL_SPEED in the
RTS_CFG.h, e. g. to 20. This is not only useful when zoomed in, but also at higher resolutions, e.g. when playing on full HD. The scrolling always feels a bit slow then.
The sound settings are interesting, because Armada causes problems with WinXP and 2000. The unit messages and notifications sound choppy, in Armada 2, for example, the music even breaks off all the time. So if the following tricks don't work and the sound still sounds terrible, just set the speech volume to 0. It doesn't have to be, if it sounds crappy anyway.
This error can be partially overcome by turning off the sound acceleration. To do this, enter the command
dxdiag into the
Run field of Windows. This should open a window that offers settings for DirectX. On the tab
Sound you should see a slider bar with the description
hardware acceleration which you set to
No acceleration (far left) or
Minimum acceleration (second position from left). This often helps, or at least reduces the effects a bit. But there are also two other methods that do exactly the same.
Control Panel →
Sounds and Multimedia →
Audio tab →
Advanced Audio Properties →
Performance tab →
Hardware acceleration to second lowest value, two times
Control Panel →
Sounds and Audio Devices →
Volume tab →
Advanced in section
Speaker settings →
System performance tab →
Hardware acceleration to second lowest value, two times
If you rarely play Armada, you can reset the slider afterwards. It can happen that the sound will be quite awkward in other applications, such as media players. There is one last recommendation: The problem can be solved partly by installing new sound drivers. Just try new drivers for the sound card. Maybe you can solve it this way.
Musiklautstärke: Self-explanatory, I think.
Effektlautstärke: Turn down the gun noise if you want.
Sprachlautstärke: This allows you to adjust the volume of the units when they are clicked and commanded.
Soundkanäle: Controls how many sounds can be played simultaneously. On older computers this was good to reduce the CPU load if the game jolts too much. But it shouldn't be a problem today.
Stereo: Also self-explanatory
Einheitensprache: If the faulty sound gets on your nerves too much, you can turn off the speech output of the units completely.
Audioalarm: This allows you to set whether notifications such as finished productions or attacks are also reported acoustically (e.g. “We have a new ship for the fleet”).
Schwierigkeitsgrad: Clearly, that's the level of difficulty the AI poses in single-player missions.
Spielgeschwindigkeit: In both the single player and multiplayer modes, this determines how fast the game runs. By the way, there is no difference between the slowest and the second slowest setting (I don't know why, but I tried it…). If you change the speed while a multiplayer game is running, of course this will affect all other players. That is, no matter who makes the change, it will be done to everyone (it's logical, otherwise the games wouldn't be able to run synchronously).
Scrollgeschwindigkeit der Maus: Should be self-explanatory.
Scrollgeschwindigkeit der Tastatur: Also clear.
Maustasteneinstellung: This determines whether commands are given with the left or with the right mouse button, or whether units are selected. Personally I prefer the left setting (default is right).
Maus-Kamerasteuerung: This allows you to specify whether the map can also be zoomed with the mouse or rotated. If you click with the right and left mouse button simultaneously on a free area of the map and keep it pressed, you can zoom the map by dragging the mouse up and down, and rotate the map by moving the mouse left and right. If you press “H”, the settings are normal again, and you will end up at your starting position. The settings can also be done with the keyboard (more precisely the numeric keypad):
*for turning to the right
/for turning to the left
+to zoom in
-to zoom out
Director's Cut: When it's turned off, the ships stay in place, making selection easier. When the Director's Cut is on, the ships perform a dogfight during the battle.
A basic requirement for armada and multiplayer games: You need an uncracked Armada version to play Armada in multiplayer! Neither in the net, nor on LAN (even if all play the same cracked version) a game will be possible. You won't see a single open game otherwise. The 1.3 patch is better here. Then the game in singleplayer doesn't require the CD anymore, but still works on the network. So much for the warning. Since the WON network has been closed down, classic online gaming is no longer possible without tools. VPN is an adequate solution for this problem.
On the other hand you need the CD (also with 1.3 patch cracked to 1.2). You need at least one original CD, for five or more players even a second CD. But this can also be a CD image, because the copy protection doesn't deserve the name. It doesn't matter who inserted the CD. It doesn't have to be the creator of the game. But the CD must be inserted before loading the game. Otherwise Armada asks for it after clicking on
Join which sometimes ends in a nice graphic bug. Occasionally it turns out that a later insertion does not result in the desired result. But sometimes it's enough to just insert the CD after the first request, and it still works. Since this is ultimately all a dice roll, it is best to have a CD inserted right from the start. Ideally you arrange, who's inserting the CD. Instead, you should have inserted an image or a CD prophylactically.
As usual, firewalls don't necessarily make life easier here. Especially the Windows firewall doesn't show up at first because of the query. But in the background it certainly is there. So until you have confirmed at least once that the game is allowed to access the network, nothing works. For example, you see an open game, but you can't reach it. That applies equally to server and client.
Armada has a certain tendency to produce (allegedly) asynchronous games. So you play for a while and at some point you get the message that the game is asynchronous. Unfortunately this happens often enough, but not always. In principle, this means that the same thing doesn't happen to all players. While player 1 has ship X at position Y, player 2 has ship X at position Z. This can be mitigated by granting the game more data rate. To do this, edit the
net.ini in the root directory of Armada and increase the values for
MaxBandwidth. More than standard 4 kb/sec. should already be in there with today's DSL connections and especially via LAN.
To create a game in the LAN, you must follow the menu path
LAN (TCP/IP). In the menu
Multiplayer you should not forget to enter the username (at the top of the text field). It just sucks when the player “Player” plays on a map x times. Now you should see the multiplayer menu with the other players and possibly open games. With
Create game you can start your own game, with “Join” you can join an already open game. If you participate, the server creator has to take care of the settings. You can ask him via chat if he could do this or that setting. Since this is not very interesting, here is a little guide to the server: As soon as you click on
Create game, you will be asked for the name of the game. This should be chosen meaningful, especially if several games are open at the same time. The password is optional and only recommended if you want to play privately. Then everyone who wants to join must know the password. If you leave the field empty, no password will be requested.
Meanwhile, the game no longer works via the net with on-board resources, since the internet game ran via WON. Instead there is the possibility to play the game via GameRanger on the internet. To do this, a CD must be inserted per four players (also with Crack…) and GameRanger must be started from an admin account. If you try to start the game from a user account with admin rights (usually with password request), GameRanger seems to take too long and throws the following error message:
Anti-Virus or Firewall software is blocking/interfering with GameRanger. It has nothing to do with FW or AV, but the problem has to be solved by starting GR directly from an admin account. Admin rights alone are useless, but are also not necessary from the admin account. A test in combination with Runas Spc is still pending. In addition, port 16000 (UDP) must be forwarded by the router NAT, or the computer on which the game is to run must be in the DMZ. Apart from that, everything goes relatively smoothly.
This section is now 100% obsolete and is only here for historical reasons. So you probably should skip to the next section. On the net it was almost the same as on LAN, only that the menu way is different, and you can chat with the others who are not yet in a game. The menu path here was
Internet. You'll have to think up a username that nobody else has and assign a password for it. Of course you have to remember the password, because otherwise you won't be able to get into your own account anymore… I recommend to check the box Remember password, if not several people are playing Armada on your computer. After that it's the same as in the LAN game. Only the opponents are usually much better than the AI. By the way, the immediate match is nothing else than playing against the AI, as if it were humans (creating with server and so on).
In the players list you can see a column with
Teams. You can group people together in teams that you have defined in advance. These teams are binding until the game is over. The other variant is that you only define the teams in the course of the game by allying players. You have to press the
Alliances button and then there are no more teams, but alliances, which you can enter but also dissolve… If you want to go back, press the same button again, but now it's called
Teams. The advantages of alliance games are that you can play the game to the bitter end, because alliances do not automatically mean that after defeating the opposing faction the game is over. The remaining players can still regroup and play against each other. Especially for very good players it's popular to first eliminate the easy opponents and then take care of each other.
You can also set the color by clicking on one of the color blocks below the player list. The first player in the list can choose the color first. If, for example, green is already occupied by the host, you cannot select this color.
On the right side only game-related settings can be found:
Spieltyp: can be either normal or head to head. When head to head, only one player plays against the other.
Maximale Spieler: This is important if you want to limit the number, to not make the game too laggy. A game of 8 players is usually really slow and tends to be asynchronous.
Ping-Filter: You can use it to filter out people with high pings. So it has no influence on the LAN. This can only improve the game quality on the Internet.
geschlossen: When closed, the game is no longer accessible to others. Good whenever you're already complete and don't want any more new players.
Dilithium: Determines how much dilithium each player has at the beginning. I recommend to be generous, because then the game starts rolling faster. But if there is a lot of time on a LAN, it's not wrong to take less.
Crew: An essential factor in shipbuilding can be that you run out of crew. Borg in particular quickly have the problem that they have cubes ready for use, but if they use the holding beam too excessively, the crew quickly goes to zero and building new ships/equipping the old ones no longer works. If the value is very low, this can happen very quickly to the rest of the crew. It depends on whether you want more resource management, or more resource battle.
Max. Offiziere: This determines the maximum number of officers/centurions/energy nodes you have at the beginning. This limits the maximum number of ships and stations you can build. If you run out of officers, you either have to build new quarters in the starbases, or if you can't, you have to build a new starbase. There is no more than the set upper limit without new stations or quarters. Resource management again… 999, for example, makes less sense, because a game shouldn't even go that long, or it only becomes stupid when you have infinite moons and players dig themselves in.
Einheiten: Determines which units you have at the beginning.
Standardmeans two construction ships and one base
Karten-Einheitenmeans the units that have been defined for the map (so it depends)
Minimal Einheitenmeans exactly one construction ship
Super-Stellemenas a construction ship of every race. But then the AI has the strange habit that all AIs always start building at the same place, and so it is clear from the beginning which AIs will be finished (whoever finishes his base first usually destroys the other construction ships with it, because they build right next to it).
Techtree: Determines the order of building to build certain ships/stations/weapons.
Standard-Tech: All special weapons have to be researched before you use them, the high-value stations can only be built if you already own the lower ones.
Keine Superwaffen: The weapons of mass destruction of the Romulans and Klingons cannot be built, nor can the Transwarp Gate of the Borg or the Temporal Research Station of the Federation.
K. Science-Schiffe: The science ships Nebula (Federation), Shadow (Romulan), Fek'hir (Klingons), as well as Diamond (Borg) cannot be built ( these are the ones with 4 special weapons each).
K. Spezialwaffen: There's no such thing as special weapons. Personally, I just find that boring.
Spezial von John: You can build all ships, but apart from the science ships, all other ships have no special weapons (not to be researched either). The special weapons of the science ships have to be researched, and there is no research station for the normal ships.
Freie Technologie: You can build anything by techtree, but you don't need to research anything.
Supertechnikstelle: You need a base for the shipyard and the science station. Everything else as usual.
Einheiten geben: when engaged, allies may donate all ships to each other except the construction ships.
Unendl. Monde: If “on,” all dilithium moons are inexhaustible. But then most players tend to build indiscriminately, which is not tactical.
on, Ferengi ships will come and steal the ships without propulsion or crew. Can really get on your nerves when an almost fully functional ship disappears just because the propulsion has failed.
Minimap anzeigen: Sets whether you can see the map in advance or not.
Feste Platzierung: If you click on it, you can determine the starting positions of the players yourself, or they can do it too. The counterpart is then “random placement”, so the PC selects the starting position.
Alle anzeigen: This allows you to set who is displayed on the minimap. Normally they are all, but you can also switch to “allies” or “available”. Available ones are those with which you could form an alliance (unfortunately the AI never does).
Nebel an: Here you can set whether the “Fog of war” is there (= fog), and whether the map has to be explored before you can see the unexplored places (= camouflage).
It may seem trivial at first. You just go out of the game when you're not up for it anymore. But there are two different methods, which have completely different effects on the remaining players. When you give up, all your units are actually removed from the game and you're out. However, if you abort a mission, you will be out, but a medium AI will take your place.
It doesn't make a difference on LAN whether someone has hosted the game when they quit or not. If the server ends the game, someone else will step in. So the game creator has no reason to stay in if he doesn't feel like it anymore. Depending on the way he goes out, the game continues with or without AI replacement. Somebody else takes over the server function. Via GameRanger it turned out, however, that you have to give the game a moment until it has passed the torch on to someone else, before you click on “Quit to Windows” at the end of the score screen. If you're too fast here, the game also breaks away for the other players. So as a host you have to wait a few seconds before quitting the game. This may also depend on the data rate at which you are connected. Such a behavior hasn't shown up over LAN, yet.
There's not much to say about maps. There are a lot of them, and that's the first problem: Maps all have to be placed in the
addon directory of the Armada installation. However, if you have too many of them, Armada crashes every time you try to create a server. It doesn't matter whether it's Internet, instant use, or LAN. At least that's what happened to me. If a player doesn't have a map, Armada downloads it automatically from the host. And that goes even quite fast, especially since Armada maps are not excessively large. So don't panic if you have an exotic map where you're not sure if the other players have it. Just select, and you're good. The rest is done by Armada itself. In the meantime you're not hindered by the download. You can see the download status as well.
You create them with “CTRL” + “ALT” + “Z”. But it only works in the game, not in the menu. This means that you can't take screenshots from the final list (stats). However, for some it works that you switch the game with
Enter into the window-mode when you are still in the game, and then just make the screenshot with Windows. It's cumbersome, but you get a result. You just have to switch early enough, because
Enter doesn't work in menus.
Armada itself has quite an efficient control if you know how to use it. Almost everything in the game is accessible via shortcuts. All special weapons can be triggered via the F keys. Units can be combined with
<number key> to squads of maximum 8 units and then directly selected as a squad by pressing the corresponding number keys. Saves a lot of time, especially since you often lose the overview in the heat of the battle, because all ships of the same class are indistinguishable.
The game offers only the WON servers for the Internet game and in the LAN it searches automatically for open servers. Unfortunately it is not possible to enter an IP address. This requires LAN games, or games via VPN, or via GameRanger. The port forwarding for routers below make little sense, apart from GameRanger. Known ports that the game used at some point:
So it doesn't seem to be just the DirectPlay area that is used, but something more. The usual DP-Ports can be found here.
For GameRanger it is sufficient to forward port 16000 (UDP).