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321StudiosGamesXCopy

Well…it’s 0130 in the morning again and here I am sitting in front of the computer inside the Monster Hardware Secret Underground Labs, lit only by the flickering light of my CRT (can’t see the roaches that way) amongst a virtual mountain of high tech stuff and half eaten take-out…gee guys, do ya think you can slip me something other than Chinese through the slot in the lab door? You see, I have been locked in the lab for two weeks now…my editor claims he’s lost the Barium Quantum Key...but I think it's his way of motivating me to finish this article :-) What? What article? Why, the one about 321 Studios Games X Copy software, see?

Games XCopy Box

You can get all the commercial schlub here. But I am here to put this software through the official MHW Grinder MWUAHAhaha! >cough< sorry bout that…haven’t been taking my meds again. This software claims to be able to back up your legally owned copy of … well … nearly anything! But most especially games. It is legal to create a backup copy of your legally owned software for the purposes of archiving and redundancy…just as it is legal for you to hack your .exe in order for you to play a game without the disk in the drive. That doesn’t mean that the Game Software industry wants you to do it, in fact they have many and various means to discourage you from doing this. Encryption, Disk Detection, Registry entries, etc. all serve to prevent you from using back ups. Why? Because some people can and will steal their software and use “work-arounds” to play the game. This is BAD for the industry and for you. If they can’t make a profit they will stop making cool games and you will be stuck with many different versions of Bubble-Bobble for the rest of your life!

NOTE: MHW does not condone in any way the theft of software or the abuse of software intended to assist our readers in backing up their legally owned software.

Now that we are over the legalese what are we going to use to challenge this software’s ability to duplicate your games? Nothing less than the infamous Postal 2 - Share The Pain, which has been banned in 17 different countries for its depiction of gratuitous violence, sexuality, political incorrectness and disregard for decency (heh heh). I have not been able to achieve a successful backup AT ALL with any duplication program I have tried…there is some Mondo Heavy security on the Postal 2 STP disk and Running With Scissors Kung-Fu is STRONG indeed to defeat Clone CD 4.3.2.2’s ability to back up darn near anything. First let’s prove I own the damn thing so I won’t be hearing from RWS lawyers (it is rumored that they know the location of our Secret Underground Lab!)

Postal Game

There! Nah Nah!

You can buy the software at your local geek store or choose to buy it online and download it from 321 Studio’s website. Their server was fast and the download was smooth. Installation is a snap and the required registration is about as painless as can be…done seamlessly online or you can activate it by telephone; 321 Studios has a very good Customer Support team on hand 24 hours a day.

Games Copy

This is the first screen you will see when running the software for the first time…You are offered a set of options: Expert – Novice and whether you want to copy the disk, create a virtual drive or erase a CD-RW for use. You are also required to choose the source/destination drive as well as if you wish to create a physical copy or an image, which we will get into later. I suggest you choose Novice as the Expert option has a confusing array of options…No need to worry, 321’s hallmark is “Easy To Use” and generally you are gonna be alright if you keep hitting the Big Green Buttons. When you hit the Big Green Button you are faced with a Nag screen and then the disk is examined for encryption and security schemes…this is the first stage in the copying process as seen here:

Games XCopy

As you can see the program is marking out the security counter-measures on the disk in order to circumvent them in the second stage of the duplication process. The initial scan can take some time depending upon the level of security detected on the source disk…be patient.

Games XCopy

During the write sequence you will observe a screen like the one above…generally this part of the process is much quicker than the first stage. Did it work? Yup. I was able to install and run Postal 2 STP with no problems whatsoever. Of course you cannot play the game with a back-up disk…P2-STP asks for the source disk to be inserted in order to play the game and if you try to use a CD-R / CD-RW the game will detect this and refuse to play. Of course, if you are savvy enough you can hack your executable but you run the risk of damaging the game software or not being able to play it at all, especially if you update the game. Generally .EXE hax are OK and they are legal to use as long as you own the software, but some games are simply unhackable. In addition MHW does not assume any liability if you blow your ‘ware trying to hack it!!!

So…what do you do? Well 321 Studios has the solution for you…GXC software has a feature that will allow you to copy your disk to your hard-drive as an Image and then mounts it to a virtual drive. This sounds more complicated than it is…return to the initial copy screen and check “Create Image” instead of “Copy to Recorder”

Copy To Recorder

You can see here in the picture above that I have selected “Create Image” … once you pass the nag screen and start the image process you will see this:

Create Image

It scans the disk just like before then will copy it to your hard drive…afterwards GXC will ask you if you want to add the image to your list of Virtually mounted games…check YES and you will notice that you now have a new CD-Rom loaded with the disk you just copied…this CD-Rom is not real, of course, but virtual. It will appear like this:

Virtual Drive

This is to circumvent the requirement for the original CD in order to play the game. You can have up to 5 different games per virtual CD and you can add as many virtual players as you like. This does take up rotsa space but most hard core gamers (the kind that will buy this software) have HD space to spare. Does it work? Yup. Seamless functionality~! See here:

Games XCopy Copy

I can now play the game whenever I want without the disk loaded and I have a backup copy of the original game that works. What can I say…321 Studios hits a Home Run with this software simply because it does what it claims to in an easy-to-use fashion.

Conclusion:

While this software is pricey (around $70 USD) it is worth it for people that game heavily and/or have a lot of expensive games… especially if you have teenagers about (it also helps to shop around for sales at Software Stores). It is easy to use and does not require a degree to operate…I would buy this software if they hadn’t given me a copy for review. Really. Additionally you get free support and updates for as long as you own the software. 321 Studios Kung-Fu is stronger than Runs With Scissors! What more could you ask for????

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Circumvents the “CD in your drive” requirement
  • Lifetime support & updates
  • Cracks the uncrackable

Cons:

  • Expensive but comparable with similar software that isn’t as capable
  • Initial scanning process can be s-l-o-www

Added: June 12th 2004
Reviewer: Outcast
Score: 9  
Hits: 11832
Language: english

  

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