On the December 1998 issue of PC Gamer, a game called RECOIL was bundled in the monthly demo disc. RECOIL is best described as a tank-based third-person strafe-shooter and it's one of my favorite games of the era. The campaign is short with only six missions, and it never really had much popularity in the golden era of PC gaming. With its alternate take on shooters and interesting array of weapons, however, the game feels timeless to me.
I revisited RECOIL a couple of years ago and actually put the time in to beat the (as common of the time) difficult campaign. However, I noticed when booting up the game there was a grayed-out option in the launcher for multiplayer. Younger me would have just been frustrated that maybe I didn't have some hardware that supported the multiplayer gameplay, but now as a full-time programmer and adult, this seemed like a really odd choice to me. Why gray it out? The copy of the game that I found from... somewhere... on the internet had all the files on the disc marked with the date January 1999, a couple months before the game's March release.
The game supposedly has an auto patching functionality as it implements a Westwood Online (RIP) client, but I can't find any separate patch out in the wild. I did some digging and noticed on the PCGamingWiki page a note:
OEM version bundled with the Diamond Monster sound card does not support multiplayer.
This all started to make a lot of sense. After doing more digging I found an old fan site for the game over at Tripod (classic!). One of the posts from April 1999 had a testimonial intrigued me:
I got in contact with a women at Westwood Studios who gave me the full retailed boxed version for my Diamond MX300 sound card bundled version of recoil. The bundled version of RECOIL was missing all the multi-player maps. ... I explained the whole thing over again to her and she said she would get a hold of marketing. The next day (today) she calls me and says that if I go down there I can exchange my copy for a nice boxed full retail version of Recoil (with a big manual)
Did they just remove multiplayer functionality and failed to mention that in the bundled version? Were they hoping it would drive more sales? Who knows. Either way I knew at one point we had purchased the full version of this game and started digging through old boxes after unsuccessfully scouring the internet for a full retail copy. I eventually did find my copy, although it was pretty badly scratched. After I popped it in and ran through the installation, sure enough there it was:
I also noticed the ProductVersion property of the .exe was also different and versioned as 22.214.171.124 compared to the version online of 126.96.36.199. This lends itself well to the idea that an earlier version of the game was shipped with no multiplayer as a bundle with the Diamond MX300 sound card.
If you have the 188.8.131.52 version of the game (either hover over the .exe or go to Right Click -> Properties -> Details) I have put up a BPS patch over at Archive.org. This patch will ignore the CD check and will slightly customize the menu item names and hides the Westwood Online option.
The game may work out of the box with Windows 10/11, but there are certainly some notes to make:
To solve 2-4 I decided to use dgVoodoo2, a Glide and DirectX API wrapper. To install:
.dllfiles from the ZIP's
MS\x86directory to the root of your RECOIL install location
dgVoodoo.conffiles to the root of your RECOIL install location
dgVoodooCPL.exeand change the following settings:
dgVoodoo DirectX Wrapper.
You should now be able to launch the game.
I first started down this journey to get this game working on modern systems because I wanted to play the game's multiplayer at a regular LAN party that I attend. We tend to play classic PC games from this era and as soon as I realized that the multiplayer was TCP/IP based, I had to try to get it working. Hopefully it turns out to be fun, but either way I'm glad there's options out there to keep this game running for the forseeable future.
PS: Hey EA, if you're not going to do anything with this IP, how about you let me buy the rights off you?