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Thursday, November 29, 2001

Westlake Project Updates
9:06 AM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

Westlake Interactive have posted a couple of interesting updates with news that Civilization III has hit beta while Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone has reached the first playable stage.

Civilization III, released on the PC platform last month, is currently scheduled to ship in February and will be published by MacSoft. Westlake programmer Brad Oliver had this to say about Civilization III:

The beta period for Civ3 is very nearly over - we've finished most of our testing at this point. We've integrated Quartz text rendering for OS X users, so most all of the text in Civ3 is very easy to read, particularly on iBooks and LCD displays.

At this point, we're waiting for the final patch code from Firaxis for the first Civ3 PC patch so that we can integrate that into the initial Mac release. We've also added in a few bug fixes as well that have been passed back to the Firaxis guys.

We'll soon be starting work on the Civ3 editor. No timeline yet on when it'll be done, but it probably won't ship in the box. The editor will run under OS X and most likely OS 8/9 as well.

Westlake also posted an update on the recently announced game, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, which will be published by Aspyr Media:
The Mac version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is at First Playable status, and it's running great under both OS 8/9 and OS X. Most parts of the game are working, including flying broomsticks and Quidditch matches. The only major code that needs to be cleaned up is a new sound library that can handle the large amount of voice and music in the game.
For more on Harry Potter, be sure to check out our first-look preview, and be on the look out for a full preview of Civilization III soon on IMG.

Aspyr Media
Harry Potter Preview
Westlake Interactive Updates

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IMG Reviews Aliens vs Predator
11:58 AM | IMG News | Comment on this story

After a long and many-staged journey, a game that first saw light on the venerable Atari Jaguar has finally made its way to the Mac. Aliens vs Predator: Gold Edition was recently released by MacPlay, and now IMG has published a review of this unique first-person shooter:

The atmosphere in this game is superb. The sound of a marine pulse rifle, the Alien screams, the Predator's rattle... these mix effortlessly with the spraying acidic blood and the infrared vision modes.

You want to know what it is like for an Alien to hang from the ceiling in a dark shadow, only to spot a human meal glowing bright blue in the darkness? Then play this game.

Curious what it feels like to be a technological warrior chasing after easy prey? What it's like to cloak your body as your heat vision pinpoints all your targets in a room? Play this game.

Wondering what it is to be a person as you are ripped apart limb from limb by a drooling, over-toothed space cockroach while your ineffective bullets tear holes in its carcass, only to allow it to drip its acidic blood directly onto your burning shins? Play this game.

For the rest of Michael Yanovich's review, and to play the game for yourself, follow the links below.

MacPlay: Aliens vs Predator
IMG Review: Aliens vs Predator
MGF: Download Aliens vs Predator Gold 1.0 Demo (59 MB)
Fox Interactive
Aliens vs. Predator: Gold

Ask Jason Jones
11:25 AM | Sean Smith | Comment on this story

Bungie's official Halo community web site, Truth and Reconciliation, is offering you the chance to ask Jason Jones the hard questions about Halo.

Is it true that Bungie added Genuine People Personality(TM) to the Xbox gamepad controller? When and where will development begin on the Mac version? And is Matt Soell's bewildering description of driving across town to a friend's house really an accurate model of the software development process at Bungie Studios?

Here's the invitation straight from Mr Soell himself:

Halo's project lead and Bungie co-founder Jason Jones is a legendary recluse. He works long hours in his shadowy lab, emerging only under cover of darkness to perform unholy sacrifices to the eldritch gods of coding. Usually these sacrifices involve an unlucky journalist who pressed too hard for an interview.

We've secured a special "stay of execution" from Jason himself and are pleased to offer YOU, the fans, the chance to interview Jason Jones.

Here's how it will work. Think up a question for Jason (no huge lists, please) and send it to We'll accept submissions for the rest of this week, then pick the best ones and hand them to Jason. We'll return with his answers next week.

So ask those hard questions today, and save this reporter from a fate worse than playing Halo on that confusticated gamepad.

IMG News: Halo Still Mac Bound
Bungie Studios: Halo Halo - Truth and Reconciliation
Bungie Studios
Halo: Combat Evolved

GameSpot Reviews Return to Castle Wolfenstein
10:16 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Though the Mac version of Return to Castle Wolfenstein is still a little ways away, the PC version has been out for a few days now, which was more than enough time for GameSpot to try it out and post a review of their impressions of it. The review is quite informative and highlights many details of which Mac gamers, still experimenting with the multiplayer test, may not be aware.

Players who like to go solo may be disappointed to hear that RtCW's single-player game doesn't quite reach the heights of glory that its multiplayer aspect does. GameSpot describes the story as weak and without surprises, even going so far as to call it "rather sterile and passionless." Compounding this are what sound like some bad design decisions, including poor visual feedback when shooting enemies, and Nazis that speak in German-accented English rather than in German.

Not to say that the single-player mode is completely poor. The general movement and behavior of various in-game characters is described as being quite smooth and detailed. Idle guards will light cigarettes, smoke for a while, then crush the remains under their heels. Zombies lurch toward players with disjointed shuffling movements. When engaged in combat, soldiers will duck for cover and stay there, forcing the player to flush them out, and may even kick back grenades thrown by the player.

Regardless of what they may think of the single-player game, GameSpot affirms that the multiplayer aspect of RtCW is worth the price of the game alone. Following the trend made popular by titles like Counter Strike and borrowing a few pages from Unreal Tournament's Assault mode, RtCW eschews the traditional deathmatch and capture-the-flag games for mission-based games that depend heavily on coordinated teamwork. The goals generally involve one team on attack and one on defense, though one map, called Depot, has targets for both teams, which forces both sides to play simultaneous offense and defense.

The various classes, which include Soldiers, Engineers, Medics, and Lieutenants, have successfully made the transition from the multiplayer test to the final version. Each class can make itself indispensable: anyone who thinks the Medic class is useless should bear in mind that every Medic on his or her side gives every team member ten extra starting health points.

Map lovers may be disappointed to hear that only eight multiplayer maps come with the full version of RtCW. However, given the current state of the mod community, it's pretty easy to hazard a safe guess that more will be available in the future. GameSpot also describes the maps as being large and complex, which gives them a bit of a learning curve.

Here are their final thoughts on the overall quality of RtCW:

In a weird inversion of the typical shooter model, Return to Castle Wolfenstein features an amazing multiplayer component coupled with a good if somewhat underwhelming single-player game. Then again, fans of id Software's previous 3D shooters should be familiar with this model. But honestly, Return to Castle Wolfenstein is well worth buying for the multiplayer game alone, so the fact that you get a solid single-player game in the box can only be considered a bonus.
The Mac version of RtCW has been promised sometime before Christmas. It is to be hoped it'll be sooner rather than later. In the meantime, gamers wanting more info can check out GameSpot's review, which includes a bevy of screenshots showing off RtCW's graphical prowess.

MGF: Download Wolfenstein MP Test 2 for OS X (64.7 MB)
Activision: Return to Castle Wolfenstein
GameSpot: Return to Castle Wolfenstein Review
Buy Return to Castle Wolfenstein

Disney Trivia Challenge Announced
9:35 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Disney fans, take note. MacCentral has noted the recent release of a new title from Disney Interactive in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Walt Disney. Titled Disney Trivia Challenge, this game is designed to test the knowledge of even the most diehard Disney fans.

The title has up to four players competing on a game board, answering various Disney-related trivia questions along the way. The categories include Film, Music, Animation, and Mousellaneous. Correctly answering questions will win tokens, medallions, and the ultimate prize: becoming a Disney Trivia Champion.

For the diehard fan, Disney Interactive is also offering a limited Collector's Edition. The details:

The Collector's Edition includes a numbered certificate of authenticity, 200 extra questions, a Disney Trivia Challenge pin and a lithograph of Walt Disney drawing "Steamboat Willy." The game also includes a special voice-over recorded by Roy E. Disney, Walt's nephew. Production of the Collector's Edition is limited to 5,000 units and is available exclusively by phone order at 800.275.0514. The Collector's Edition costs $49.95 plus shipping and handling.
The regular edition should be available at local retail stores, and is available on a hybrid Mac/PC CD-ROM for $19.95.

Disney Interactive
MacCentral: Disney Trivia Challenge Released

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Tamte Bullish on Mac Gaming
9:25 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Regular IMG readers may remember past articles about recently-formed publishing house Destineer, which itself houses the Mac label Bold. Both are the children of Peter Tamte, who was recently interviewed by Macuarium. Though the interview is short, Tamte reaffirms Bold's full support of the Mac market as well as Mac support in an upcoming project by Destineer.

Bold is currently committed to porting Microsoft games to the Mac platform. Far from being bound to Microsoft, however, Tamte notes that Bold may port content from other companies in the future if they find a title they believe "needs to be on the Mac."

As for Destineer, it sounds like they may have something special up their sleeves:

Destineer is creating a completely new game that will be available for Macs, PCs, and video game consoles. We have started from scratch to create this game. All of the technology, artwork, and gameplay concepts are completely original.

Please be assured that we plan to release all of our original games simultaneously on the Mac. In fact, Macs play an important part of our development process.

On a side note, Tamte, a former Bungie employee, also makes an interesting statement regarding Bungie's new studios within Microsoft:
I've been to Bungie's new studios inside Microsoft. They're filled with Macs. And, they're also filled with people who love the Macintosh. Please be assured that Microsoft and Bungie plan to bring Halo to the Macintosh. They love the Mac just as much today as they did before being acquired by Microsoft.
For more information on Bold and Destineer, be sure to check out their respective web sites. Also be sure to read the rest of the Macuarium interview for more of Tamte's thoughts on the Mac gaming market.

Destineer Studios
Macuarium: Peter Tamte Interview
Destineer Studios

Jake Simpson: Heretic II Postmortem
9:04 AM | Brian Rumsey | Comment on this story

Jake Simpson, Assistant Lead Programmer for the game Heretic II, has a postmortem for the game posted on his own web site, Jake World. Heretic II, developed by Raven Software, is not a new release, and this postmortem has in fact been posted for quite some time. However, with Heretic II finally coming to the Mac, this article has become more relevant to the Mac gaming community.

Heretic II was designed as a third person action game from the word go. It had actually been proposed a while back here at Raven but at the time the technology to do it convincingly just wasnít there, so it was shelved until it could be done right. After seeing what Core had done with Tomb Raider, it was decided to take that proposal from the shelf, dust it off, and see what we could do with the latest Id Quake II engine. The emphasis was always to be an action game, rather than an exploring style ala the good Lara, or even Hexen II; we wanted cool worlds, cool monsters, violence, exciting ways to hand out death, and lots of it.
Heretic II will soon be published for the Mac by MacPlay. Check out this article to learn some interesting things about this game which is now a classic on the Windows side.

MacPlay: Heretic II
IMG News: MacPlay to Port Heretic II, Hexen II, Zork
Heretic II Postmortem

'G4' Gaming TV Network Announced
9:01 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

A very interesting new television channel completely dedicated to gaming - and oddly called G4 - has been announced as coming to a cable system near you. The specialized network will feature completely original programming and has execs from such backgrounds as MTV, E!, and a number of online gaming sources. While its parent company, Comcast, claims that seven million subscribers will be able to see the channel on their cable or satellite system next spring, there is also a form request you can send to your TV provider. Here's a quote from the press release:

G4ís all-original programming will include 13 weekly series and specials that will focus on the latest information about electronic games, including "whatís hot" previews, "making of" documentaries, competitions, news, events, game tips, reviews, etc. G4ís core demographic is men 18-34 and teens 12-17, plus general appeal to anyone interested in electronic games.

"It is time to bring more original programming to the channel lineup," said Green. "There is a huge young audience that plays video games and there is no television network that responds to their interests. By creating G4, a fresh, new original programming service about all things related to video games, G4 strives to be the television destination for todayís young adults."

Head over and give their site a look after reading through the press release. Send off a request if you'd like to have the channel added to your TV system. And with a name like G4, you can be sure we'll push to see some Mac gaming coverage on there as well.

Get G4 Channel
G4 Media Press Release

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Deus Ex Co-Op Mod Released
8:58 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

A beta of a new mod has been released for Deus Ex called the Co-Op Project. Its aim is to allow players to play through the game cooperatively, sharing both the enemies and the power-ups. Co-op is a rare feature for a retail title because of the complexity involved in making sure two or more players can get through a title in a fashion similar to a lone gamer. With a complex title like Deus Ex, you can imagine how much more of a balancing act that is compared to a standard shooter.

While the development team isn't complete, this first beta shows that they are certainly making progress. IMG recently got in touch with the lead on the project, who assured us they were already working with Mac fans to get the mod up and running with the Mac version of Deus Ex as well. When asked about any PC-specific code, he responded:

So far, all the code is in UScript, which Epic claim is portable across all platforms the Unreal engine supports. I'm optimistic that coop Deus Ex will run on the Mac sooner or later :)
We'll keep you posted as more information on the modification is released.

Aspyr: Deus Ex
Deus Ex Co-Op Project
IMG Review: Deus Ex
Ion Storm
Westlake Interactive
Aspyr Media
Deus Ex

Mac Games News for Wednesday, November 28, 2001

State of the Game: iPod, Redesign, & More1:48 PM
Modsquad Reviews Marathon Resurrection11:58 AM
IMG Reviews Saitek X45 HOTAS11:30 AM
Sierra Releases Even More Contraptions10:28 AM
Atlas: Gift of Aramai Updated10:11 AM
Giants: Missing Features with GeForce310:06 AM
Stupid Giants Giveaway Contest9:51 AM
More on Wolfenstein for the Mac9:37 AM
Vet Emergency Released9:27 AM
Testers Needed for Cave Dig 39:22 AM
Age of Empires II, Rogue Spear Updated9:13 AM
Red Faction Shipping Today9:05 AM
Attack of the 50-Foot Otto Matic6:00 AM
Halo Interview6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Wednesday, November 28, 2001 on one page

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Tuesday, November 27, 2001
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