We experienced some interesting issues with 'unsupported' games. On our
initial test run, there were a few games (including DOOM 3!) that Grease Monkey
labeled unsupported. This struck us as extremely odd. Besides Doom
3, the other popular problem games were Thief: The Dark Project and Deus Ex:
Invisible War. With the exception of Doom 3, these games were all 'bundle'
software included in some of the video cards that we've reviewed over the past
few months. These games are official, original versions of the software,
so we could not understand why they were not supported.
A quick email to VIA got us a slightly unsatisfactory answer.
Apparently Grease monkey is very sensitive to changes in the .EXE file of the
program, and will label games as unsupported if the file it detects is different
from the 'reference' pattern that the program is currently using. This
initially didn't make any sense to us. Why would the bundle games then not
be supported? The only thing we can think of is that the .EXE files are
changed somewhat to reflect the games being bundled with Gigabyte, ASUS, Abit or MSI video
cards... If so, this is a bit unfortunate since any hardcore PC gamer is
going to have several 'bundled' games in his or her collection from past video
As for DOOM 3, which was a retail purchase, not a 'bundled' game, it turned
out that someone had applied a no-CD patch previously, though we'd kept using
the CD. Grease Monkey detected the changed .EXE and labeled it
accordingly. When we manually updated our version to the latest 1.10
patch, eliminating the no-CD fix in the process, Grease Monkey detected the
change the next time we ran it and informed us that our DOOM3 version had
"changed from 'unsupported' to 1.10".
The odd thing is, Grease Monkey was still perfectly happy to list the
available patches for most of the unsupported games in the 'version management
console' mode as stated above; this means that while you cannot track additional
files and add-ons to these games, you can still automatically download the
latest patches. This makes Grease Monkey's 'filtering' of .EXE files seem
like more of an inconvenience than a real problem.
Final Thoughts on Grease Monkey
We're of two minds about the VIA Grease Monkey software. On the one hand,
we loved the dedicated server access to patches, the latest demos and
add-ons. It's like having a more personalized version of the most popular
gaming sites 'membership' services brought right to your desktop. We also
liked the patch and driver tracking services (when they worked correctly), and
found the user interface easy to use, attractive and informative. The
US$14.95 price is easy to swallow for a full year's subscription too.
On the other hand, we're not sold on the primary purpose of this
software. Who really has enough games to justify a dedicated
patch-tracking tool? This feature alone would not be enough to sell Grease
Monkey to us, and we were less than thrilled with the rather limited content
offered on the 'mods' and 'maps/expansion packs' sections of the download
tab. VIA needs to sort out issues with 'unsupported' legitimate game .EXE
files as well, since we're thinking this could lead to some unhappy
On the whole though, it's easy to recommend Grease Monkey for what it actually
is: A Swiss army knife application for all your gaming needs.
It can keep you up-to-date with the latest patches and amused with the
latest demos and add-ons, all delivered to you and installed at lightning fast
(for the Internet) speeds. At $14.95 for a full year's unlimited subscription,
we'd rank this as an good purchase for the (truely) hardcore
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