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Playing with Fire: Patching the 'New' Falcon 4.0
Part I: Initial Install and Background

by Jennifer & Robert Mitchell

Article Type: How-To
Article Date: August 20, 2001

The Basics And A Little Background

With Patching all things are possible

Having flown Falcon 4.0 (F4) since February 1999, Bob and I know firsthand that playing F4 can be a satisfying, if frustrating experience. At full realism, or “Ace” settings, it’s not easy. (Remember the first time you opened the manual and tried deciphering Pete Bonani’s tutorial on the use of the radar?)

Patching F4 to get the latest and greatest “goodies” can be even less easy. But, done right, it will make your F4 flying time a much richer experience.

First off, you probably know how bug-ridden F4 was on its release in December 1998 so we won’t go into that. Thankfully it has evolved greatly since that time. After Microprose spent a year patching it, the development team was released and Hasbro dropped the project. They ended their F4 patching with version 1.08 US which is where we’ll begin.

The Basics

Falcon 4 installation setup screen

Starting with a fresh install of F4, I absolutely, totally, and unequivocally suggest that you defragment your hard drive before running the installer routine. This will ensure (I'm told) that all the F4 files are installed in a single, contiguous block on your hard disk. Whether that’s true or not I really don’t know. I DO know, however, that when I install without defragging F4 searches the hard drive a lot more often when I’m flying it. So, for that reason alone, I’d suggest defragging before installing. Not to mention the fact that I’m superstitious. (I won’t get into the live sacrifices, thankfully the latest patches have made that unnecessary—we’ll discuss installing the “LiveAnSac patch v. 1.3” later!)

You should choose the typical install

So, ok, you’ve got your hard drive defragged, now what? I suggest choosing the “Typical” install unless you absolutely cannot live without the movies installed to your hard drive. Choosing the “Typical” install will save you approximately 250MB of hard drive space, and more importantly, will get you actually into the sim after clicking on your icon. Choosing the “Minimum” install is a bad idea because you’ll be running some of the game off the CD-ROM rather than off your hard drive. Obviously that will hinder your performance. So, your best bet…go with the “typical” install.

F4 searches for DirectX 6 right after the installation, I’d think it a safe assumption that everyone’s well past having DX6 so if for some reason it tells you that you need to update DirectX files, and you’re ABSOLUTELY SURE that you have DX6 or higher, (I’d sure hope so, but if not that may explain problems you’ve encountered in other games!), don’t let it install them. I’ve never had this problem, nor have I heard of anyone that did, but just in case you’re the first, I stand by my advice. You don’t want DX6 files overwriting your DX8a (or whatever newer version you have) files.

You'll be asked if you want to install DX6 files...Don't do it unless you have DX5 or lower

Now that you’ve got a fresh install of F4, some folks have suggested rebooting and defragging again. I have done that and I didn’t really see any gain to it, but I’m not going to try and tell you that I’m a Jr. software engineer either. The theory that I have heard is that you’ll have “dirty memory” and rebooting, obviously, will clear your RAM, and that defragging will keep that contiguous block intact. I don’t know, but it can’t hurt, right? [Publisher's Note: Check out the free utility called Rambooster if you want to clean out your RAM without rebooting.]

Copy and save the file to a seperate location on your computer

But before you reboot go to your …\Falcon4 folder and copy the file in the …\Falcon4\Zips folder and save it to somewhere, anywhere, outside of you …\Falcon4 folder like C:\My Documents or whatever. has a lot of the files for the Tactical Reference section.

The key is to keep it away from the …\Falcon4\Zips folder BEFORE you run the 1.08 patch. The reason for this is because the 1.08 patch removes this and doesn’t replace it. It does however add a second copy of It doesn’t add this to your …\Falcon4\Zips folder, it puts it right in the …\Falcon4 folder.

It’s just an inexplicable bug in the 1.08 install routine. Needless to say you can safely delete the file in the …\Falcon4 folder. Just keep the one in your …\Falcon4\Zips folder.

Delete the standard version of msvcrt.dll that Falcon installed

I’d also strongly suggest deleting the MSVCRT.DLL file from your …\Falcon4 folder now. Microprose put an ancient version of this critical file in F4 and it has caused a lot of misery. So much so that Microprose themselves offered a newer version of MSVCRT.DLL for use with F4 back in the summer of ’99. Don’t worry about finding a copy of it to download. Delete the one in your folder now and F4 will just access the one in your C:\Windows\System folder, which in this bright and shiny year of 2001 is surely a newer version. (More on MSVCRT.DLL in Part 2.)

So, at this stage I take my F4108US.exe patch and put it in my …\Falcon4 folder. You can really run it from anywhere since it reads your installation from your registry, but as I said, I’m superstitious.

1.08 installation

When running the 1.08 patch some people have a problem with it locking up on the KoreanObj.LOD file. While this isn’t common, it’s not unheard of either. If it happens to you, and you haven’t already done so, delete the MSVCRT.DLL file in your …\Falcon4 folder, reboot, and try patching again. If you still have this problem take a look at your CD, it may be dirty, or less desirably, scratched and corrupted the KoreaObj.Lod file on your initial installation. If you’re lucky (and have a high-speed connection) your version of the 108us patch was corrupted at download so you can try downloading it again from a different server. Bear in mind that getting through the KoreaObj.Lod takes some time when running the patch so don’t panic when it doesn’t sail right through it. On my computer it takes usually 2-3 minutes to run the entire 1.08 patch, with the KoreaObj.Lod file taking the majority of that time.

Updating the KoreaObj.Lod file is the longest part of the 1.08 patch

You should have no problems installing to 1.08. After you get to that point you’ve got some choices to make. Which way do you want to go with your Falcon? You can stick to 1.08, or you can go in the “iFalcon” direction. So named because of iBeta’s involvement with F4 post-Dec. ’99. Or you can go the “eFalcon” route. Named from it’s team’s leader, eRazor.

Timeout—A Brief History

After Hasbro announced the end of Falcon and pink-slipped the development team, a few of the F4 engineers asked permission to continue work until the absolute end in January. Before leaving they gave us the 1.08i1 and 1.08i2 patches. These two patches (they were actually modified F4 .exe’s) fixed more bugs in single player and worked on the network code for multiplayer. iBeta, a privately owned software quality-assurance company that had been involved with F4 for some time, distributed the “i” patches and began the “Realism Patch Group” or RPG. The RPG goal was to hex-edit the data files, with Hasbro’s permission, to further develop realistic characteristics of weapons, vehicles, and AI in Falcon. They began shortly after Hasbro ended Falcon and the RPG still exists today.

Almost as if it were scripted by Hollywood, the actual source code for F4 (the 1.07 version) was mysteriously made available online, very briefly, in the spring of 2000. This is where eFalcon begins. The eteam, headed by eRazor, has modified F4 using this source code. They’ve added, among other things, DirectX support, 32-bit color, graphics filtering, and tons of other new features. For instance, if one chooses (and is brave enough) he or she can actually start the engine of their F-16 before takeoff in a mission now. This is just one of many new features that the eteam has added.

Back To Patching

You can’t really lose either way you go, I’ve personally played, and really enjoyed, both iFalcon and eFalcon installs on my computer. I recently updated from my good old Voodoo3 to a Geforce2 so I’m more partial to eFalcon now as it runs in DirectX much better (almost twice as fast a frame rate!) than iFalcon will. But, if you have a Voodoo based card, iFalcon, run in glide-mode, is probably for you because Falcon was built around the glide API originally. But, I’ve also heard excellent comments from people about running eFalcon on a Voodoo5 as well. Speaking from personal experience, if you have a Voodoo2 or 3, I’d recommend sticking to an iFalcon based install and running it in Glide. It all depends on what you want from your F4 experience however, and the choice is entirely up to you.

Which way should you go?

One alternative you do have if you don’t want to partake in anything more than 1.08 patching is just using the “i” patches. I’d suggest i2 as it has more fixes. The “i” patches are not really patches either, which makes their installation a breeze. They’re modified Falcon4.exe’s. Simply download, and place in your Falcon4 folder. Just make sure that you update your desktop shortcut to point to the i2.exe rather than the Falcon4.exe. That’s it…piece o’ cake.

You can get 1.08US here: Falcon 4.0-1.08US
You can get 108i2 here: Falcon4-108i2.exe

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