If you’ve ever felt that old Rockstar games perform poorly on PC, you’re not alone. Many fans have long complained of performance issues, but it had largely been put down to their age, and the fact that they’re having to run on operating systems that didn’t exist when they were released. That, however, might not be the reason at all.
Fans online have found evidence of what appears to be cracked game files in the official releases of Max Payne 2, Midnight Club 2, and Manhunt. According to dataminers, this means that the game contains files from a pirated version of the game, cracked by third parties trying to get around anti-piracy measures. However, because these files exist in the game, this might be triggering Rockstar’s own anti-piracy features, even though it’s a legitimately purchased copy of the game.
According to Twitter user, game developer and modder Silent, this all stems from files found in the code. In the example below, they show a file found in Midnight Club 2 reading “Razor 1911” – the name of a software cracking group. Presumably, this means that the Steam port isn’t based on the legitimate release of the game, but rather a pirated version available online. This may be due to Rockstar losing the necessary files to release it officially.
The same issue is apparently present in Manhunt, as documented towards the end of a video from YouTuber Vadim M. Here, it becomes clear that there are a lot of similarities between the Steam release of Manhunt and a pirated version from Razor 1911 released in 2004. Issues are nearly identical, including the fact that they didn’t work on Vista – which was released after the cracked version. This wasn’t an issue with the physical release, leading many to believe that Rockstar based this on the illegal copy instead.
That isn’t the worst of it though. As Steam’s DRM kicks in, it will consider it to be an illegitimate version of the game. This has caused issues like doors not opening and significant performance issues, making the game impossible to play for many. This has previously been blamed on the age of the game, but the video makes the case that it’s because it’s based on the cracked version.
As also explained in the video, a signature from the crack group Myth was found in the Max Payne 2 executable. We’ve known about this for some time, as it made headlines and resulted in Rockstar updating the game to remove it. Our news editor James Troughton was able to verify that it’s actually still in the game, just renamed and unused.
This is all very odd, to say the least. But a possible explanation is lost source code, meaning Rockstar had to rely on piracy to re-release these titles. This would put the company in an uncomfortable position, since no gaming studio is keen on piracy. For fans, it also means they were paying for a version of the game available for free – and with the anti-piracy measures intentionally causing bugs that make the game impossible to complete.
Rockstar is yet to respond to the recent revival of interest in this matter, nor has it updated all of the affected games.
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