Hands up all those who have played Grand Theft Auto? I suspect many of you reading this would have played at least one of the many games which make up the critically acclaimed series, but I am pretty sure not as many of you reading this are aware that an Amiga version of sorts exists, or much less have had the opportunity to play it. Whilst the Amiga wasn’t lucky enough to get an official conversion, in stepped Apex Designs who in 2001, inspired by Grand Theft Auto and seeking to improve upon it released to the Amiga community it’s take on the series with the rather excellent Payback.
The Amiga version was so good in fact that it was ported across to other formats such as the Mac, Game Boy Advance and even I-Phone so that non-Amiga users could get in on the fun. The original game required at least an AGA machine and a 68020 processor so A1200 and A4000 owners were the main beneficiaries, however this game also could run under a RTG (Re-Targetable Graphics) card so the good news is that Amiga Next Generation machines like the Sam 460/Amigaone 500, Amigaone X1000 and X5000 machines could run this game also, although it is a little difficult to set up at first.
What I will aim to show in today’s post is how to get the game up and running on my X5000 and certainly the instructions are also applicable for anyone who would like to attempt this in AmigaOS 4.1.
I am lucky enough to own an original copy of the game and it is here that I should give a little bit of a warning. The game requires a keyfile which comes in the CD cover without it you will not be able to play the game. Sadly this game is no longer in stock and I haven’t seen it on sale at Amigakit, whom i purchased this from at a Play Expo event they attended with a stall a few years back. Sadly this game is also not in stock with other Amiga retailers, so I am guessing eBay and their inflated prices may be your best bet here. If you do pick up a copy second-hand, please make sure the keyfile page on the back of the inside cover is on there.
First things first time to run the installer program from the CD. Like any other installation I would always recommend going with expert mode, however when you get to the screen below:
It is really important that you do not install the movie into as if you do you will find a few issues when starting the game and your machine will crash.
Next when it asks you if you want to update lowlevel.library and add CD32 pad support, make sure you also say NO as if you say yes, it will install a much older version of lowlevel.library than the one which comes with OS4.1 Final Edition.
You will finally be asked if you want to set up the screen mode which again you are best advised to say NO, the reason for this is that when starting the game you then have the option to configure this which you will see as we read on.
Next up is a trip to the Apex Designs website where we will need to download an update. The update can be downloaded here and it will be a case of unpacking this and then running the install. Just make sure that when you are asked for where Payback is installed, that you click on the Payback folder.
Once the update is installed, you will be presented with a screen which looks like this and you will notice there is a Payback icon along with a PPC specific WarpOS version. Now you may think that we can run the PPC version, but sadly when testing this out, I am unable to get this to run properly and you will in fact need to run the 68K original version, but in the setup mode, please ensure that you select the software rendering mode.
The good news is that in software rendering mode it will support a 1024×768 screen-mode.
You will also ensure that the hardware rendering mode is set to “disabled”. This I am led to believe is because Payback’s hardware rendering using Warp3D does not work properly on modern graphics cards such as the Radeon HD 7750 which is installed in my X5000 machine.
Joystick support is the next thing we will need to configure, so it is time to check out Amiga Input and configure lowlevel.library
As you can see from the above screenshot, I have selected my joy pad as unit 0 and once you press assign it is just a case of mapping the buttons as appropriate on the joy pad or joystick that you decide to use for this game.
Now it is time to start the game and here you will ned to make sure that you have ejected the Playback CD from your CD-Rom drive as if you forget to do this, it will start to play the game intro and sadly the machine will crash.
Once the main Payback menu appears as shown above, you should be ok to place the CD back in drive.
The next step is to then configure the audio to ensure that the in-game music runs from the CD. Now I have tried this on both my Amigaone500/Sam 460 set up and also the X5000 and sadly despite all manner of different combinations I am unable to get this to run the music from the CD directly.
You see in theory as my CD-Rom drive is connected to a Sii3112 2 port Sata controller, i should only have to put the device name as sii3112ide.device and the unit number as 0 and this should work, or at least the game disc should start spinning, but for some reason this doesn’t seem to work under my set up. If anyone has managed to get this working on their X5000 or even Sam 460 set ups can you please let me know as I would love to have this playing from my CD directly.
However fear ye not, as I am now going to describe a work around that you can do in order for you to benefit from the fantastic in-game music that comes with this game which is full or original tracks ranging from country rock, to rap to electronica which really add an atmosphere to the game.
Hidden in the game folder, if you right-click and show all files, you should find that when you installed the game, it copied across the game music into a folder called James Daniels-Payback (2001). Contained within this folder are all the game tracks which are in MP3 format. Arrange all the songs by name and select all. Then open up Tunenet and drag these MP3 files into the playlist.
Then save your playlist back into your game folder and you can start playing the music from this playlist and on to the game.
Now we should have everything more or less configured. You can go inside the game and adjust some other settings relating to keyboard and joystick controls or the level of the sound effects.
The purpose of the game is to respond to the requests of the local kingpin for whom you will be working in various cities with a number of different missions that you will need to undertake. On the first level your first task is to respond to the ringing payphone where your mission instructions for that level will be set out.
The controls either via keyboard or via joy pad do take some getting used to at first, only because the direction is more or less in a circular motion as you move especially with a joy pad. You quickly need to figure out which button is the one that will help you hijack a vehicle, which is then also the same button to leave the same vehicle you have just commandeered. One of the other buttons will act as your shotgun or dropping a few grenades. Two of the buttons will then act as accelerate or decelerate and this will apply the same regardless of if you are driving a car or if you are walking along the street.
The missions themselves involve all manner of tasks from stealing cars to drive to other places on the city map, and engaging in shootouts or letting off explosives and grenades in order to achieve the mission targets for that level. On some levels you may be asked to meet required points targets which can be accrued through your actions such as stealing cars and ultimately crashing them or by hijacking other vehicles and taking them to various other locations within the city. If you can complete certain missions in record time you get extra bonus points and at various stages of the game, the kingpin will let you know his feedback either good or bad as to how you are doing, and he won’t exactly be shy either in his choice of language too if you are doing a bad job. The directional arrow gives a good indication of where you need to go on each level, so this should save you from getting totally lost, but the real fun in the game comes from doing all sorts of random madness all in the pursuit of total carnage.
I am really glad I have managed to get this to run natively on the X5000 without the need for E-UAE emulation. As you can see from the screenshots within the game the 1024×768 resolution looks really nice and the game as far as the Amiga is concerned at least is still an original concept as there really isn’t anything else similar on our platform. It is certainly the nearest we are going to get to Grand Theft Auto on the Amiga. If you manage to find yourself a copy on eBay then do snap this up, it’s a real Amiga Classic that deserves to be played.
Until next time have fun with your Amigas!