Scams are not something that we often associate with game modding - nobody pays for a mod, there's surely no revenue stream in it. However, upon trying to find some mods for the newly re-mastered Bioshock (there is none, trust me) , I learned differently...
My journey begins, like all bad things that happen on the internet, on Google. I've been very much enjoying the re-mastered version of Bioshock lately, despite a bit of a rocky start pre-patch, when the game failed to autosave for over an hour, then crashed when moving into a new area, causing me to loose the progress of an entire level.
It seemed like a good idea, then, to see if I could find some mods for this newly re-mastered peice of legendary video-game history. Surely the original Bioshock had a load of mods for it - it was Game of the Year, afterall, and many of these would be compatible with the new version. Surprisingly, apart from the odd trainer and a single ENB that makes the entire game look like a bad Instagram filter, there's literally nothing out there for this game.
Bioshock is unloved by the modding world. You could argue that it's simply a testament to the fact that the game was so good to begin with. Maybe it's a testament to the fact that the Unreal engine is arse to work with. Either way, Bioshock still sees no love.
What I did stumble across, however, was one, singular YouTube channel, with a video just shy of 170 views, claiming to have a new SweetFX mod for Bioshock Remastered. Curious, I thought, that this isn't on any of the bigger sites like ModDB, NexusMods or GameFr..... Ahem.
Upon reading the title of the mod, though, alarm bells started ringing.
Yes my friends, this is Mod Fantastic, Very Nice - the greatest mod to ever bestow Bioshock Re-mastered, but only by virtue of the fact that it's the only one on the entire damn internet I can find.
Okay, I thought - the title is a little odd - but random capitalisation and broken English aside, what was the mod actually like? I figured it was worth playing the video to see what we were dealing with - sometimes good things do come in odd packages.
The first thing that strikes me as a little odd here is how bad the before shots look, as opposed to how clean the after ones do. At best I'm seeing a little tweak in contrast in the after shots, but the before shots look almost like they've been doctored intentionally to try and make the game look worse than it is - thus selling the mod for more than what it is. Combined with the rather shocking frame rate - a surprise given the rather low system requirements for Bioshock - I started to wonder what was going on here.
Right, there's only one way to find out for sure what's happening here - download the mod and do my own comparisons - lets see what this really is.
This is where my problems began - firstly, this guy has plastered AdFly links all over the place linking to the mod page - infact, the only links I can find on the entire internet linking to the mod's one and only download page are the author's own AdFly links. Still, trying to make a quick buck off a mod is nothing new - look at, what is in my opinion, the recent farce that is GTA V Redux, for example.
Weirder still is the mod's download page itself. It's a free Blogspot page - and a badly written one at that - but that doesn't stop the mod author from putting PayPal donation links front and centre to help him cover his costs. More interesting still is the type of content the blog page has - it's mostly cheat tools and trainers, and other things that will gain high hit rates - hardly the first place I'd consider uploading my super new graphics mod - especially over ModDB or NexusMods.
My favourite part though, is the download button.
After "donloading" the mod - which, by the way, was only available via more AdFly links - I decided to install it and...
..wait, what is this?
Well, this certainly isn't the mod that I was trying to download. As much as "Media Player Pro" looks like a fine and legitimate product, I decided to opt out of their kind offer to install this no-doubt excellent software, and instead attempt to move on to the mod itself.
At this point, things were becoming more hassle than it was worth - had I not been a technically savvy user and had plenty of malware blocking tools installed - I'd probably already be negotiating the terms of unlocking my own hard drive with a nice gentlemen from Russia, who, for tax reasons, only does business in Bitcoins.
I was super suspicious of the mod at this point - so much so that, while looking a bit like a zip file, I decided to double check for my own sanity - and low and behold...
SweetFX Mod Graphics Bioshock Remastered.exe
Yes my friends, it's an EXE file. I'm very much concerned about proceeding any further at this stage, knowing that there's a 95% chance that double clicking this exe file is going to absolutely piss all over my day. A cautious approach was now required, I felt, so I decided to upload the file to VirusTotal, a nice website that will scan an uploaded file with every antivirus program out there - if this thing is a known quantity - VirusTotal will hopefully tell us.
Suffice to say, my planned comparison video to see if Mod Fantastic Very Nice was actually making the graphical improvements it claimed have been put on hold at this point.
It's curious how obvious and poor this attempt at trying to fool someone into downloading malware or ransomware is, yet I got much further along down this path than I really should, and I consider myself pretty savvy. Had a casual gamer stumbled upon this little gem, well, the consequences are not good. Be careful out there my friends, and remember, if it looks dodgy, it probably is dodgy.
And the worst part? I still haven't found any Bioshock Re-mastered mods.
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