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IMG Holiday Buying Guide Part III
December 11, 2007 | Michael Phillips

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The following is Part III of our IMG Holiday Buying Guide 2007. Be sure to also check out Part I and Part II of our buying guide.

Sim Gaming: Wannabe' Paradise
So, some games take us to distant and magical lands, dystopian futures. They pit us against dragons or malevolent alien beings, toss us into post-nuclear Hell. Other games, however, try to recreate digitally real-life experiences. We play guitar, we race cars, we score spectacular touchdowns. We do all of these things safely ensconced in front of our Macs.

Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock
I've seen it and I don't get it; people crowded around a tv mashing Fisher-Price style buttons on a silly guitar-shaped plastic controller tethered to an XBox 360. For so many, the Guitar Hero series is wildly appealing. They focus intently on the game's 3D musicians, mimicking chords to all manner of classic rock songs. It looks ridiculous. It sounds ridiculous. People love it.

Now, people no longer require a tv to fulfill their wannabe rocker dreams. Now, people are able to gather around their Apple Cinema Displays and MacBook Pros, grinding their imaginary whammy-bars. Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock has come to Mac OS X.

The Guitar Hero series has heretofore only been a fixture of console gaming, but thanks to Aspyr Media, such is no longer the case. In Guitar Hero III, players don a guitar-shaped USB controller on which there are several buttons and a whammy bar. Each button corresponds to musical notes that fly down the screen as players attempt to mimic any number of rock songs note for note. Missing notes causes a drop in score, as well as nasty jeers from the ten thousand 3D rendered screaming fans. Speaking of songs, the game features a total of 71, many performed by their original artists. Players can rock out with bands ranging from The Rolling Stones to Tenacious D, there's a little something for everyone.

Guitar Hero III also boasts three game modes; a story-driven career mode, co-op career mode for two players and a competitive battle mode in which two players face off to play a song while earning various power-ups to use against one another.

Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock retails for $79.95 and comes bundled with an X-Plorer guitar controller. The Mac version is currently available for pre-order, but should ship before Santa sets out to slay with his rain gear on, carting bulging sacks in his big great arms. That is, so I've heard it said. Lastly, due to the game's intensive visual effects, Guitar Hero III requires an Intel-based Mac with a dedicated video card. This means no backstage passes for MacBooks and Mac Minis.

Need for Speed Carbon Collectors Edition
In EA Games' Need for Speed Carbon, players take on the role of outlaw street racer, back on the scene after some time away. Few racing games have made it to the Mac, but this one is a particular treat. Featuring 10 race types, an advanced physics system over 50 different cars to race and wreck, and lush visuals, Need for Speed Carbon delivers what it offers.

Race types include include standard sprint and checkpoint flavors, but more uniquely, much of Carbon's gameplay centers on canyon racing. Players race down sprawling canyon roads, drifting around turns, praying not to flip their ride ten times over. The game's cars are broken into three categories; Exotic, Muscle and Tuner. Exotics are fast, decadent, but often are rather unpredictable, whereas Tuners are balanced, steady, but can lack raw speed. Muscle cars, well, American trash. That could be just me.

Need for Speed Carbon requires a Mac Pro, MacBook Pro or iMac and retails for $39.95.


Archives  Features  IMG Holiday Buying Guide Part III