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Must Have Mac OS X Games
December 20, 2001 | Kit Pierce

Apple's NeXT generation operating system has been available for about 9 months now, and the trickle of viable Mac OS X applications have finally broken forth into a babbling brook of viable applications. Soon, as Uncle Steve promised, Mac OS X will have a raging river of applications available for us to run, making it the slickest, most lickable, and most productive work environment around. But what about those of us who still like to squeeze off a few digital rounds or solve a couple of puzzles at the end of the day to help us unwind? Sure, John Carmack showed off the Doom 3 engine running exclusively on Mac OS X at Macworld Tokyo a year ago. Yes, Halo has been promised to come to our beloved platform, but such things are merely promises of some really kickin' vaporware. What about the big-ticket titles that have blipped onto the screen for Mac OS X, or even the smaller titles that made their way under the radar? Yes, they're out there, and they're just waiting to be played. Many are promised, but many are available now. Without further ado, let's take a scan of some of those games available for Mac OS X.

First Person Shooter
Take your pick, because we have both of the two juggernauts available to us: Quake 3 Arena, and Unreal Tournament. Graeme Devine has made some tremendous strides in getting Q3 running under OS X, and in some cases its speed under OS X equals and even exceeds its PC counterparts. Besides, how are you ever going to get accurate benchmarks for your system without Quake 3? Next, thanks to the double efforts of Mark Adams at Westlake interactive, Unreal Tournament has made its way not once, but twice, to the Mac OS: First, ported to the classic Mac OS, and second, running under OS X with a basically stable preview application. Both Quake and Unreal have a thriving mod community, extending the life of each game considerably. For my money, I'll take Unreal Tournament -- It has Marathon Resurrection and Rampancy to fulfill all of my old-school FPS longings in high-tech style (Sorry, Aleph team). What more do you need?

The Sims was a classic from the start. Putting the user in control of the basic needs of a microcosm of their own device provides hours and hours of wonderful fun. To add a little spice to the your various sims’ lives, a vibrant skinning community is constantly coming up with new characters and furniture to interact with. With the Livin' Large and House Party expansion packs, the Sims should remain an engrossing experience for some time to come.

We don't have many titles out for Mac OS X that fall into the strategy category. Yes, we have promises, but few shipping titles. Now that Blizzard has released an OS X executable, Starcraft is finally available to us, but while Starcraft is fun to relive the past with, Age of Empires II is a strategy game that requires more than resource management to get the job done. Sporting 13 Civilizations (plus 5 more from the built-in Age of Conquerors expansion pack), 5 story driven, historically accurate single-player campaigns (plus 4 more from the built-in Age of Conquerors expansion pack), intense multiplayer action, dozens of units, lush battlefields complete with hills, oceans, rivers & lakes, a complex technology tree, amazing wonders such as the Hagia Sophia at Constantinople and full Mac OS X support, this game will keep players occupied for hours on end.

A few titles share the arcade spot; with more and more good arcade style games hitting Mac OS X it was hard to be satisfied with only two. Happily, they’re all shareware and when priced together they still cost about as much as a brand-new shrink-wrapped retail game. First, we have the fine contribution by the brothers Fothergill, Airburst. Priced at the amazing price of $5, this two-brother team has created one of the most inventive revisions of an arcade classic ever delivered to the Mac OS. Packed with numerous game types and several secrets to uncover, Airburst's furious pace can satisfy any arcade twitch for hours. Rumor has it that network support is in the works, but that's no reason to delay registration. Airburst is an excellent return on your gaming investment and a small price to pay.

Second, Freeverse software gives us Wingnuts, a classic arcade clone with a twist, dripping with the singular Freeverse sense of style. You are the lone Wingnut, trying to thwart the evil Baron von Schtopwatch's attempt to hop from time period to time period amassing aircraft to aid him in a bid for world domination. In the process, you get to blow a bunch of stuff up. It's great fun. The Baron taunts you along the way, and your wisecracking navigator, the beautiful and lovely Freeverse spokesperson, Jen, aids you on your way while getting in some good jabs of her own. The graphics are sharp and run on OpenGL. This makes the smoke smokier and the explosions all the more explosive. This sense of style is the Freeverse way, and it's nothing short of spectacular. At only $24.95, Wingnuts is a steal.

Finally, Ambrosia Software's Deimos Rising is available for those who crave the pure unadulterated rush of arcade twitch action. With a slick soundtrack, even slicker graphics and flawless OS X support, the simple, straightforward game play of Deimos Rising is a fine call back to the days of the venerable Xevious and worth taking for a spin.


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