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VIA Grease Monkey Patch-Tracking Software Review
VIA Grease Monkey Patch-Tracking Software Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: PC gamers are often forced to acquire multiple patches for a single game over the few months that it is 'in play', and this activity can get tedious.
Filed under: Software Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: VIA Technologies Mar 11 2005   M. Dowler  
Home > Reviews > Software > VIA Technologies Grease Monkey

Unsupported Game Issues

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 card upgrades.

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 subscribers.

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 gamer.

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Contents of Article: VIA Technologies Grease Monkey
 Pg 1.  VIA Grease Monkey Patch-Tracking Software Review
 Pg 2.  Installation and Setup
 Pg 3.  Game Search Results
 Pg 4.  Available Downloads
 Pg 5.  Tracking Drivers and Direct X
 Pg 6.  Demo's and Expansions
 Pg 7.  — Unsupported Game Issues

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