If you still have some Mac gamers you need to buy gifts for this holiday season, you’re in luck. This is a fabulous season for A-list Macintosh games of all stripes, for all kinds of players. Here’s a rundown of some of the highlights you can get from various Mac game publishers right now, for those gamers on your list.
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GraphSim Entertainment and Volition teamed up this season to bring the first-person shooter Red Faction to the Mac. The game has already taken Sony’s PlayStation 2 and the PC by storm for its use of Geo-Mod, a 3D graphics technology that introduces the concept of “deformable terrain:” Blast a rocket into a wall or plant an explosive pack and watch as you dig a crater. On top of that it’s fun both in single and multiplayer modes.
If a good game of Hearts, Spades, Euchre or Pitch is more your style, check this out: Aspyr Media and Freeverse Software teamed up for a package called iPuppet Presents: Colin’s Classic Cards. It’s a combo pack that combines those four card games under one title, and it can be played alone with computer-controlled players or over the Internet. And the best part is that you can customize the game with your own graphics and images, so people can really see your own beaming face instead of a cheesy avatar as you smack them down with your amazing card game skills. (Cheesy avatars are included if you prefer.)
Have an OS X gamer on your list? They may find MacPlay’s Giants: Citizen Kabuto appealing for its novelty as the first A-list Mac game conversion to be released exclusively for Mac OS X — that’s right, there’s no support for Mac OS 9 and lower. The game is a 3D action title with some real-time strategy elements thrown into the mix; you assume the role of one of three alien species (the Meccs, the Sea Reapers or the giant Kabuto) vying for control of an island world.
If there’s someone who loves Dungeons and Dragons or other role-playing games, MacSoft’s Vampire: The Masquerade — Redemption might be a good take. At its core, Vampire is a role-playing game — though it sports beautiful 3D graphics and some challenging battle sequences worthy of an action game. You can play as a single player and take the role of Christof, a medieval knight turned vampire who makes his way from the Middle Ages to the modern day. Best of all, though, if you find other Vampire players, you can play a real role-playing game as the Storyteller, creating your own scenarios and leading other players into action.
MacSoft also has some fun titles for fans of television game shows — new versions of titles based on the tremendously successful syndicated game shows Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy. Wheel of Fortune 2nd Edition and Jeopardy 2nd Edition take the same format as their TV show counterparts, with many new word puzzles and trivia answers to create a question out of. Each title features video footage of Vanna White and Alex Trebek respectively, too. And while it hadn’t shipped as we went to press with this guide, MacSoft is also anticipating the release this month of Survivor: The Interactive Game, a Mac version of the popular survival TV show.
Speaking of Dungeons and Dragons, there’s a recently released game that’s licensed from AD&D’s “Forgotten Realms” series — Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn. It’s published by MacPlay and it runs on both on “Classic” Mac OS versions and Mac OS X; you can play alone or over the Internet. It obeys Advanced Dungeons & Dragons rules and provides you with yet another epic adventure story set in a different part of the same land as seen in Baldur’s Gate.
If someone on your Christmas list is a big Diablo II fan, you might want to pick up Blizzard Entertainment’s Lord of Destruction add-on pack. Expanding an already addictive game, Lord of Destruction adds another scenario to the title, and adds two new character types: Druid and Assassin. That’s not all, either — hordes of new monsters, magic items and other goodies are waiting to be found, making it fun (although not necessary) to play the game over again from scratch.
Just in time for Christmas, Aspyr Media has announced the release of Otto Matic, a 3D action game made on the Macintosh, for the Macintosh. It’s the latest creation of Pangea Software — makers of Bugdom and Cro-Mag Rally, who have up until now published their own titles. Otto Matic is inspired by 50’s era sci-fi movies and has the fleshy-headed aliens with megalomaniacal desires to prove it. Help Otto save Earth as he keeps innocent humans from harm and battles the Giant Brain from Planet X and his evil minions.
Sometimes today’s games can be a bit much to handle, especially if you’re an old-school gamer. Freeverse Software answered those gamers’ prayers this holiday season with the release of WingNuts, a game clearly inspired by the 80’s arcade game classic Time Pilot. You fly a plane bristling with guns, bombs, guided missiles as you blast fleets of robot-controlled planes culled from the past (biplanes, dirigibles, bombers), the present (fighters, stealth bombers) and the future (if you survive that long). Featuring 2D (not 3D) graphics rendered using OpenGL, a movie-style soundtrack and dozens of levels of frantic gameplay, WingNuts shows that you don’t need to render polygons to make a fun, addictive game.
Do your own delusions of grandeur make you want to be ruler of your own kingdom? Check out Bold by Destineer’s freshman release, the long-hoped-for and finally available Age of Empires II: Gold Edition. A combination of Ensemble Studios’ Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings and The Conquerors Expansion, Age of Empires II: Gold Edition enables you to guide a kingdom from the Dark Ages after the fall of Rome through the Middle Ages. Combining elements of strategy with real-time combat, Age of Empires II doesn’t fall squarely in either the civilization-building or real-time strategy genres, but somewhere in between.
Budgets can be tight during the holidays, so if the $30 – $50 that most of these games cost is more than you want to spend, you might want to take a look at inexpensive shareware offerings that offer Mac gamers hours of fun for a small amount of money. Strange Flavour has a two fun releases that cost very little — their first title, a helicopter flying and rescue game called Bushfire, is only $4. Their most recent release, AirBurst, is a scant $5. Mac game shareware developer, Ambrosia Software has Mars Rising’s long-awaited 2D scrolling shooter Deimos Rising available for $20.
Mac game developers and publishers have been putting in long hours in recent weeks and months to make sure you’ve a great selection of top-notch Mac game titles to put underneath the Christmas tree this year, so please try to support those that you think are worthy of your attention. The best news is, as evidenced by this list, the games available for the Mac aren’t lumped into a single category or genre. There’s something for everyone, from folks who like card games to “old school” arcade gamers to “hardcore” first person shooter fans.
MacCentral’s holiday gift guide: Shopping at Apple