Recently, my boss at my day job was considering getting a Mac and asked that fateful question: So, what about games?
A few years ago, any response to that question would have been met with an awkward silence and an embarrassed look and a rush to change the subject to the weather. Now a days, thankfully, the answer is: Not that bad, actually. The switch to Intel processors, along with TransGaming’s Cider, has allowed companies to port their games to OS X.
The bad news is, almost all the games on this list require a Mac with an Intel-based processor to run, and most of them either do not work on the old GMA 950 chip, or are severely limited.
Massively Multiplayer Online Games
I’ve got a weak spot for these enormous time sinks. They do come with a not-so-hidden cost of a monthly subscription fee and potential dirty looks from your spouse as you’re up until 3am trying go get “just one more level.”
Derived from the old Warhammer miniatures war games, we’ve covered this one previously. It’s still a good choice for someone who also likes bashing their fellow man in the face as well as computer-controlled monsters. You can download the endless trial, which will let you play a portion of the game for free, or you can also buy the retail Windows version for about $20 — you don’t need to install it, and the Mac version isn’t on the disc, but you can use the account key to create the account and then download the Mac client.
A space-themed MMO where you pilot your own ship is a nice distraction from the chicks-in-chainmail you find in fantasy games — really, that bikini has a high armor rating? Riiiiiight. While my experiences with Eve are limited, from what friends have told me, “once you get over the learning curve, it’s quite fun.” So, if you’re tired of burly elves and svelte dwarves (or is it the other way around?), Eve Online might be worth a look. As with Warhammer, you can either download it online or pick up a box set at a retailer.
World of Warcraft
It’s hard to mention a gaming roundup without talking about the 800 pound gorilla of the gaming market. Recently celebrating its fifth anniversary and over 11 million subscribers, WoW shows no indication of slowing down this decade. Blizzard has always been a staunch supporter of the Mac, and the box you buy at the store will have the Mac installers on the disc. There’s even a handy iPhone app you can view your character and guild info with.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
In a break from the World War 2 theme of the earlier Call of Duty game, as you’d assume from the title, this one is set in the modern era. The single-player campaign is one of the best I’ve ever experienced — I’ve got a fairly low finish rate on games, and this once was interesting all the way to the end. You’ll play the part of two soldiers in different areas of the world (A British SAS trooper and an American marine) working on two plot lines. I found the level design varied and well-paced — each level felt bereft of the usual “padding” developers add to the game to make it longer. At around 12 hours long, the campaign is relatively short, but, frankly, I’d rather most games be this short and well done than inflated.
Yeah, I know, like Call of Duty 4, it came out a few years ago for consoles and PCs. This Art Deco themed shooter answers the question: What would happen if Ayn Rand built an underwater complex based on her Objectivist theories? Naturally, something goes wrong and you get to unravel it. As with Call of Duty 4, Bioshock is one of the few games that compelled me to finish it, and is one of the few games so scary it caused the hair on my arms to stand up.
It’s hard to ignore the siren’s call of a game that lets you block off the bathroom and watch your Sims go mad. The Sims franchise is a guilty pleasure of mine. Apparently I’m not so busy micromanaging my own life, I need to micromanage a Sim’s virtual life, too. The Sims 3 has a few new features, like careers. Previously, when your Sim went to work, he or she disappeared into a black hole from which money spouted. Now, they can advance up a career path. I just wish they’d learn to use the bathroom at work.
Back in my PC gaming days, I was a huge fan of Microsoft’s Flight Simulator series. Unfortunately, Microsoft’s shuttering of that development group killed the program — not that we’d have seen a Mac version. X-Plane seems to be the Mac equivalent of it. I’ve yet to play it, and, sadly, any attempt at downloading the demo has failed. You can get it at the Apple store but the online store claims a 2-3 week shipping time.
The Civilization series has been a long staple in the strategy era, and Civ 4 is one of my favorites. Civ 4 adds a few new features over previous versions: religion is much more important, you can promote units, and now you can see your overall score. There is also a slimmed down iPhone version.
If there’s something more fun than a Lego adaptation of Star Wars or Indiana Jones, I don’t know what it is. I love how they are both true to the source material, yet light-hearted. These are fun for the whole family.
Part pinball, part blockout, part crazy, the idea behind Peggle is to eliminate the orange pegs. You are given 10 balls to complete this task. If the ball lands in the scoop at the bottom, you get a free ball. Most of my experience has been with the iPhone app, but I’ve been loving it.
Any sort of a roundup like this is heavily biased on the author’s tastes: in my case, it’s apparent I like MMOs, shooters, and strategy games. Now it’s your turn: What games would you like to give or receive this holiday season?