Do any of you remember when you got your first Windows 95 computer, I sure do it was my first PC, I also remember the games that came with it, those games quickly became my favorites and also made me who I am today. Not action, fighting or racing games but instead real time strategy games. Games like Dark Reign, Red Alert, Homeworld, MechCommander Gold and my personal childhood nostalgia memory Battlezone, not the arcade version mind you the 98’s PC version made by Activision.
Unfortunately I learned the hard way that nothing lasts forever, not even game CDs and soon as I’ve grown up one by one my games would either be damaged or broken, my MechCommander Gold and Battlezone CD were broken in an accident, while others like my Red Alert CD would just be too scratched to the point of being unplayable.
As time passed by, I bought other games such as Worms Armageddon and Commandos which were good games I even got a second chance to get a second Homeworld CD in a store nearby, however I couldn’t forget about my old games and how I would love to play them again. I thought that would never happen until I got Internet, in my young years I never had Internet in my computer, but now that I’m older I can start exploring for a way to find copies of my old games.
I started searching for these old games and I found out there where actually community sites for them, like Battlezone1 and Darkreign.ws, most of these games were free now and soon I had most of my old games back although just being literally digital file images. Recently while I was searching in an old game archive for Red Alert, I noticed another familiar name… Microsoft Urban Assault.
Microsoft Urban Assault, I remember playing it too but not as much as Battlezone, the game had no interesting story and the difficulty curve was too much but once I mastered it I realized that the gameplay was truly the most important part of this game. Nevertheless, I was interested in downloading it when I remembered that I didn’t need to, I completely forgot that I still had the original CD with me. I decided to look for it and install it again and play it to see if I was still skillful at the game.
I also found out that Urban Assault had an expansion that was never released called Metropolis Dawn where you could play as other two different factions, sounded interesting so I downloaded it since I already had the original.
After I found it and dusted it off I decided to install it in my laptop, even though it was Windows 7 it still played those old games perfectly, why wouldn’t it play Urban Assault? There was no reason not to. I opened the CD case and took the disc out, it’s old age showing, very scratched on the back and it’s painting falling from the front, I wasted no time, I opened up the DVD drive and inserted the disc. It didn’t start automatically, I had to double click the icon and as soon as I did I was introduced to the installation screen along with the “You have control” speech, I clicked the button “Install Urban Assault on PC”. As I continued installing the game I noticed something, several buttons wouldn’t have any text in them, instead of “next” and “previous” there would be nothing, was it a glitch?
Fortunately since I have a good memory I was able to remember the correct buttons to proceed through the installation, interesting enough the setup would still show images, I know this because near the end of the setup you can select three types of installation, minimum which represents a small tank, typical which represents a big tank and complete which represents an artillery vehicle, I selected Complete installation, by doing this all the files in the CD would be copied to a folder, slowly going to the final setup installation screen I once again noticed there were no text or numbers but the images were still visible, one of the images actually showed the progression of the setup and once it was done I was greeted by a female voice saying that the setup was completed.
It was required to restart the computer before playing so I did, always safe than sorry… As my laptop restarted I decided to install the expansion next, it required me to install in the same folder as the original game so I did. After that I was ready to relive my childhood memories, the monitor finally showed my desktop and right there along with my old games there it was, the shortcut icon for Urban Assault and its expansions. I double clicked it and soon the intro sequence started, I decided to watch it… creepy intro, when I was a kid it would always put me on edge with the music and the imagery, it still does, well, not so much since I am a lot older and read creepypastas most of the time, but that intro would seriously give chills down my spine. However this wasn’t a bad thing for me, this was actually enjoyable, I felt like a kid again… soon the intro was over and I was at the menu screen ready for some action.
Before starting I went to Options and switch from software mode to hardware mode then I went back and selected single-player and was sent right into the world map screen, just like I remember only three levels are available, two training levels and one mission level, I was confident in my abilities in my FPS and RTS abilities since this game was a combination of both genres like Battlezone, so I selected the first mission Hyde Park.
The briefing screen appeared and all the enemies one by one were shown on the map, nothing out of the ordinary here, however when I was about to read the briefing screen on the side for some information or objectives about the mission, instead of the normal briefing this was written instead…
“There weren’t many who actually saw it coming. Of course, after the fact, everyone claims to have been sounding the alarms. But I no longer criticize the dead, which these days doesn’t leave many to point fingers at.”
I was both confused and curious about this, this particular text never ever showed up in game before in my previous playtroughs, even though I was curious I continued playing the game, I clicked the start button and sprinted through the level to see if something else was different, but there was nothing, the enemies were in their place as they were supposed to be and the enemy mothership was as easy to defeat as I remember. I cleaned up the map and headed towards the Beam Gate to finish the mission. After I completed the mission the map summary showed up on screen to show me the progress and the time I took to complete the mission, once again nothing out of the ordinary.
I returned to the world map screen seeing two more levels unlocked and so I selected the next one, Skull Alley. Once again the briefing screen showed up and the enemies were in their original places on the map, the text however was different, yes… I know the text is supposed to be different in each mission, but this text was just out of place like the previous one, this time it read…
“At my mom’s funeral the minister came up to me and said, ‘She’s in a better place.’ I said, ‘Duhh!’ That got me stuck in counseling for about two years. The remaining adults are scared about how many of us kids are deciding to off ourselves. And so we get sent to therapists, and these therapists are good, really good. For example, mine said, ‘You’ve got so much to live for.’ And she didn’t even laugh.”
Once I started the mission everything was okay and nothing seemed out of place, I cleared the mission in no time, and the summary screen was also normal displaying the score and time that took to complete the mission. That’s when I started thinking… that, maybe only the briefings were different, but the question was why? And how? The texts were certainly strange but that’s about it.
I decided to continue playing through the game, eventually the other briefing texts started showing somewhat cryptic and disturbing messages sometimes with the text lines separated by empty spaces between them. Texts like…
“Adults think I’m weird. Maybe they aren’t as dumb as they seem.”
“There are voices in my head. Only I am not crazy because the voices are really there. Maybe they were drivers who came before. But they frighten me. They threaten me. They sing to me.”
"Earth is very badly infected with humans. But we’re trying to take care of that."
Sometimes the messages would be downright strange and unreadable like this…
“._.. ._. / .. … / . _ _ _ _ _ ._. … _ / . …_ . ._.”
“15,8 / 20,8,5 / 23,5,9,18,! / 20,8,5 / 23,5,9,18,!”
“Th ldr shll rs. H f th lthr jckt.”
“G hd nd lgh t my frs. Bt s y lgh, thngs wll b hppnng.”
After all those strange happenings I finally got to the ending, as I selected the final level called Parasite City, the briefing screen lagged for a few seconds, that never happened before… This time the enemies wouldn’t appear on the map, I could still hear the sounds though. I went to check the briefing text on the side to see what was written…
“Im nt prnd. Thy r ftr m. Sn thy wll b ftr y, y. D y thnk y cn scp”My laptop suddenly turned off and I was surrounded by darkness, I turned the lights in my room on and looked at my clock, it was past 3:00 AM, it was really late I didn’t even noticed I’ve been playing for so long. Before I went to bed I decided to turn my laptop on to see if it was working properly, I scanned it with Avira and Malwarebytes and it was completely clean, my games were still all there in the desktop and everything was working just fine, must have overheated, I decided to take off the disc and turn my laptop off to get some rest. Next morning I decided to look for any clues about what happened yesterday while playing the game, I had to get some answers and what better place to look than the internet. I soon found out that like most of the old games I had that Urban Assault also had a site for a small fan community, the site was called metropolisdawn.com also known as Stoudson Corporation, there I started my investigation. I looked through all the categories before I finally found something, in the stories section there was a thread called Forbidden Readings, I found out that the Microsoft Urban Assault game actually had a hidden storyline inside its help files, I suppose that these were never used for some reason. The game was actually supposed to break the 4th wall and include the players in the plot of the game.
I continued scrolling down to search for those weird messages that I’ve seen in-game, and I’ve found them along with their translation…
As I read them I felt the room get strangely colder and got a little nervous…
“AIR IS WORST EVER”
“Oh the weir! The weir!”
“The loader shall rise he of the leather jacket.”
“Go ahead and laugh at my fears. But as you laugh, things will be happening.”
However the one I saw last that night was translated to this…
“I’m not paranoid. They are after me. Soon they will be after you too. Do you think you can escape”
This creeped me out… this was the final message that showed up before my laptop shut off, I still had the same questions, why? How? Was the disc so scratched and old that it had corrupted files? More investigation lead me to know that these texts were actually in one of the expansions, both the original and expansions have the same Language.dll file, they are however in different folders. I downloaded a program called Resource Hacker to check this and it was there, on the expansion Language.dll file, some of these texts were there, I didn’t find some of the others maybe because I didn’t look carefully… I tried opening the original Language.dll file from the original game and it gave me an error, it couldn’t open it.
Was it corrupted? Did the game knew that the original texts inside the Language.dll file were corrupted and replaced them? I don’t know and I’m afraid I will never find out. I tried installing the game again but nothing happens, the installation screen doesn’t show up, I open the CD and try to install from there but it doesn’t work and finally I tried copying the files directly from the CD to which my laptop replies that there’s no disc in the drive. I wonder if I just experienced something logical and explainable or maybe something else, however as time passed I completely forgot about it. I’ve downloaded the digital image of the Urban Assault game from the stoudson corporation site, the game plays as normal with the briefings and texts back in their original places and I’ve never had any problems ever again.
I still keep the original Microsoft Urban Assault CD along with other more recent games I bought, I would never get rid of it, although the things I experienced that night were creepy, it wouldn’t be enough to stand between me and my memories and to be honest, bad or good… I guess that is up to me to decide.
Note: Sorry for any grammatical errors, I am not English but I tried my best, any constructive criticism will be really appreciated, actually this was based on a true story also sorry if it’s not creepy.