November's Mac games
It’s that time of year, and chances are good that your next few weeks will be packed with spending time and money on gifts for loved ones. But while that’s all well and good, you should also gift yourself something to keep yourself entertained over the next few weeks: a new game to savor on your Mac.
November brought a nice variety of options, including the seriously slick racing simulation Dirt Rally, the newly free-to-play version of Blizzard’s brilliant StarCraft II, an expanded edition of Hitman, and plenty more. You’ll find 10 of the month’s most appealing picks in the slides ahead, and if you’re looking for further options, be sure to check out October’s slate as well.
Dirt Rally ($60)
Codemasters’ previous Dirt off-road racing games skirted the line between hardcore and accessible, presenting rally racing amidst other types of events and keeping the challenge fairly approachable. But Dirt Rally takes a more simulation-like approach to the sport, delivering arguably the most realistic rally racing game experience to date.
And now you can play it on Mac thanks to Feral Interactive’s new port of the 2015 PC original. You’ll race across more than 70 worldwide stages using 45+ licensed rally rides, with crisp graphics and cross-platform multiplayer that’ll match you up against Windows and Linux opponents. If you’re up for the challenge of realistic racing in rough conditions, Dirt Rally can provide it in spades.
StarCraft II (Free)
No, StarCraft II isn’t new—in fact, it’s seven years old. So why are we including Blizzard’s hugely popular real-time strategy game on our list? Because now it’s free, which it certainly hasn’t been before this month. Blizzard just rolled out the big change a couple weeks back, meaning anyone who hasn’t played the excellent strategy pick should jump on it right about now.
What’s free, exactly? Well, you can play the entire original Wings of Liberty campaign, along with the ranked multiplayer ladder featuring units from StarCraft II and its expansions. And if you want the game’s expansion campaigns, they’re still available for $15 apiece or $40 for the bundle. It’s a smart way for Blizzard to rejuvenate interest in the aging game and fill up the online servers.
Hitman: Game of the Year Edition ($59)
It was only a few months ago that IO Interactive’s episodic Hitman reboot series hit Mac all at once, offering the opportunity to command a master assassin in tense missions across the world. But now there’s a Game of the Year Edition, and whether you’re starting fresh or upgrading from the standard version, it brings some pretty significant additions to the mix.
Beyond the six main episodes, each of which provides a new locale with myriad missions, this edition adds a new Patient Zero mission arc, in which Agent 47 attempts to stop the start of a global pandemic. It also adds other new missions and disguises to wield, along with 40+ extra challenges. It’s $59 on Steam for the full, discounted bundle, but if you already bought Hitman, you can add the GOTY content for $20.
We’ve seen loads of World War II-themed games over the years, including the latest Call of Duty (sadly not on Mac yet), but World War I tends not to get quite as much attention. Verdun is the rare example of a really strong and thoughtful WWI shooter experience, as our sister site PCWorld detailed when it released in 2015, and now the same studio is back with Tannenberg.
Currently available in Steam Early Access, Tannenberg sticks to the same fundamentals as Verdun but amps up the experience, delivering 64-player battles across larger, open terrain. It’s still a squad-based first-person shooter experience, and still a multiplayer-centric affair, but it seems to build upon the previous game’s successes. Early Access means it’s unfinished and could be buggy, but it’s feature-complete and will be finalized by early 2018.
Hand of Fate 2 ($30)
The original Hand of Fate found a fair number of fans back in early 2015, and now Hand of Fate 2 is here to lightly expand upon the debut’s unique balance of deck-building and melee combat. As before, you’ll construct a deck of cards used in a battle against the mysterious dealer, but then you’re tossed right into dungeon-crawling, hack-and-slash action when cards are played.
Hand of Fate 2 brings the expected improvements, including glossier graphics and new kinds of cards, but it also shakes things up a bit by introducing fresh companion characters and some mini-games along the way. If the first Hand of Fate didn’t click with you, then the sequel probably won’t change your mind; but if you were a fan, you’ll probably find lots to love here too.
Football Manager 2018 ($50)
Sega’s long-running soccer simulation series returns with a fresh entry, only as the title suggests, you won’t be out there on the pitch showing off your flashy skills. Instead, you’re the guy on the sidelines with the clipboard, the vision, and the battle plan, helping your team rise from a pack of players to hopeful legends on the world stage.
Football Manager 2018 builds upon the fundamentals of previous entries, and is still primarily a menu-driven affair, letting you build your roster, manage your organization, make strategic calls during games (which are now rendered in 3D), and shoot for success without ever directly controlling the players. Critics are impressed with this latest rendition, although Steam user reviews are decidedly mixed.
Pako 2 ($10)
We’re fond of the original Pako, which started on iOS before making its way to Mac early this year, but Pako 2 marks a significant deviation from the original premise. While the first game found you driving through crowded parking lots and highways to evade the cops, using only your steering skills to stay alive, Pako 2 is all about unleashing firepower to remain on the lam.
You’re still a getaway driver here, but instead of just dodging obstacles and other cars, you’ll fire your gun in all directions to take out pursuing cops and clear pathways. It also brings in heist elements, as you pick up fellow crew members and try to escort them to safety. Still, it seems to keep the frantic fun and stylish look of the debut intact.
Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy ($15)
We’ve seen a surge of remastered games release on consoles and computers in recent years, as older 3D games are given a higher-resolution makeover to be more appealing for newer audiences. And while these are often already-popular, widely-beloved games, occasionally we see overlooked games given a second lease on life. Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy is definitely one of those games.
First released in 2003 for consoles, Sphinx is a cartoonish action-adventure game that bounces between action/platform sequences as the titular character and stealth/puzzle-solving missions as his mummy ally. It probably feels a bit dated at this point, as older 3D games tend to be, but Sphinx was well-reviewed back when—and Steam users are pretty high on the re-release so far.
Sky Gamblers - Infinite Jets ($5)
You’ll have to head over to the Mac App Store for this one: Atypical Games is back with Sky Gamblers – Infinite Jets, its latest dogfighting game that’s available for the same low price on both Mac and iOS. Unlike the World War II-set Storm Raiders, the last entry to make its way to Mac, this one’s all about modern super-planes soaring over major cities around the world.
Storm Raiders was a surprisingly strong experience on Mac given its cheap asking price, and Infinite Jets seems to continue in its footsteps, offering an action-packed single-player campaign and frantic online 7-on-7 multiplayer battles. It also looks pretty slick, although it ought to be pretty comparable between the Mac and iOS versions.
Space Pirates and Zombies 2 ($20)
Zombie games are done to death at this point, and science fiction games certainly aren’t in short supply—but zombies in space? Well, Space Pirates and Zombies 2 might be on to something new there, even if it is a sequel. This uncommon pairing of concepts comes through as a space shooter with role-playing and real-time strategy elements thrown in.
It actually takes place after the zombie threat is vanquished, with the galaxy in array and different factions popping up to try and amass power. You can create your own faction and battle against other A.I.-controlled captains in space, and the action looks really vibrant and appealing. You’re probably best off starting with the 2011 original if you missed it, although Steam reviews suggest the sequel has a different feel and flow to it.