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Thursday, February 14, 2008

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Lara Croft Gives Mac Gamers A Valentine
6:59 PM | Cord Kruse | 5 comments

Feral Interactive has released a demo of Tomb Raider Anniversary as a Valentine's Day gift to Mac gamers eagerly awaiting Lara Croft's latest adventure. The demo precedes tomorrows worldwide release of the full game.

Lara is back on the Mac in her best adventure to date!

Tomb Raider Anniversary is bursting into stores worldwide on February 15th, with all the precision and force of a well-oiled T-Rex.

But just in case Lara is not already the object of your affections, we're releasing the demo on February 14th - Valentine's Day! Did you get us a card?
The demo weighs in at 273 MB and is available from the link below.

MGF: Tomb Raider Anniversary 1.0 Demo
Feral Interactive
Tomb Raider Anniversary
Buy Tomb Raider Anniversary

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Inside Mac Games Reviews Domination
1:41 PM | Tuncer Deniz | Comment on this story

Inside Mac Games has posted a review of Virtual Programming's Domination. Here's a clip from the review:

In Domination, two international alliances vie for control of countries, continents, and planets. Ostensibly a sequel and upgrade to VP’s Massive Assault, as the game begins the righteous and upstanding Free Nations Union, whose color is predominantly light blue, has all but won the war against the sinister and fanatical Phantom League, depicted in khaki brown. Any comparisons to the GDI and Brotherhood of Nod are perhaps too obvious to mention, so I won’t bother elaborating on it.
To check out the full review, please follow the link below.

Inside Mac Games Review: Domination
Virtual Programming
Buy Domination

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Jeopardy! Deluxe Released
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story and Encore Software have announced the release of Jeopardy! Deluxe as a digital download on its website. The game was previously available in a boxed format only.

Get ready to test your knowledge with America's Favorite Quiz Show. Play alone or pit yourself against the computer with up to two other contestants. Just like the show, if you respond correctly you lead the game, but if youąre wrong, your competitors control the board and you have to use your wits to jump back in command or you might find yourself in JEOPARDY!

• Over 3,000 clues written by the TV show writers
• Sharpen you skills on three different levels of difficulty
• Daily Clue - a Jeopardy! clue every day of the year

• Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later
• PowerPC G4/G5 or Intel Mac
• 256 MB RAM
• 50 MB of free hard disk space
• 800x600 color display with thousands of colors
Jeopardy! Deluxe is available for $19.95 through A free Universal Binary demo version of the game is available for download on the web page.

Buy Jeopardy! Deluxe

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Wright & Bradshaw Discuss Spore
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Mac|Life has published an interview with Will Wright and Lucy Bradshaw about the upcoming release of Spore. The Q&A covers a variety of topics including specifics about gameplay and the reasons for bringing the game to Mac users.

The new god sim will allow players to build single celled organisms and take them from the primordial ooze to the lofty reaches of outer space. At each stage of evolution the game will open up new options for play, eventually leading from simple survival to city building and galaxy conquering.

Why make a Mac version of it? Is it a romantic decision or a business decision or somehow both?
Lucy Bradshaw: ... First of all, games that Will had made befor--SimCity--originated on the Mac, had a strong following on the Mac, and I think launching first on the Mac was part of the reason for its success, because journalists were on them… [With Spore,] there’s sort of this energy with [the Mac] audience.

Will Wright: We want to see what weird, unexpected things people will do with these tools. And I think the Mac group will be over-represented and the people that surprise us with the weird stuff they do with tools.

Lucy Bradshaw: We’re kind of excited to take it to that platform and see what happens with it.

Why use TransGaming and a Cider port versus a native Mac translation?
Lucy Bradshaw: … When you talk about just the economies in terms of the Mac gaming audience as opposed to the amount of time and effort it takes to port something going native, with as much work as we’ve got, we can move it to the Mac audience a lot faster by using this approach. While I think there may be some advantages to going native, I think this gets you probably the best of both worlds. You get that game on the Mac where as a lot of games don’t move over there. And you’re really tapping into… Spore at the same time. So often it’s like six to nine months later.
We’ve partnered with Aspyr [on other games]. They’re really great. They did native versions before… like Sims 2. It took them, almost--I think Sims 2 Mac launched about nine months after the original. And every single expansion pack, it’s like six months after the original.

Will Wright: And that’s actually pretty fast.

Lucy Bradshaw: I think there’s a lot of benefit to doing a simultaneous launch.

Head over to the link below to read the rest of the interview.

Mac|Life: An Interview With Spore's Designers
Electronic Arts
Buy Spore

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Eschalon: Book 1 Reviewed
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 4 comments

2404 has posted a new review of Eschalon: Book 1, Basilisk Games' debut RPG title. Inspired by classics of the RPG genre, Book I challenges players to uncover the mysterious past of their character while exploring dangerous outdoor environments and treacherous dungeon depths. Criticizing the game's "old school" design, 2404 gave E:B1 a score of 5 out of 10.

While the general story is adequate, the play is disappointing. Combat is a bump-fest, bump into the monster to take a swing, hitting for damage based on weapon and skills; alternatively, you can use spells, at least until the mana runs out. After a few fights, your character requires rest. As you rest, you regain health and mana, but there’s a random, but likely, chance that a swarm of monsters will pop up next to you. They’re almost always too much to fight, especially if you’re weak (you’re resting, after all), so you’ve no choice but to run to the next zone (yep, old school zones give you a way to escape hordes), where you can rest… but another wandering monster encounter might send you scurrying to the next zone, and so on. Once you finally get to recover, you’ll have to fight through those hordes to get back to what you were doing in the first place.

The game makes much of light, and combat in dungeons or at night is usually frustrating, as enemies are “partially hidden by darkness,” making it difficult to land a blow. Your character has little choice but to keep at least one hand free to hold a torch; granted, slimes and such might battle in pitch darkness, but it’s rather odd that human enemies don’t seem to care about needing light. Torches are plentiful, at least, though players wishing to use a shield or two-handed weapon will find the preoccupation with light to be most annoying. Merely exploring in darkness is unpleasant as well; turning up the brightness on your monitor will be more rewarding than lighting a torch.

Despite the many warts, Eschalon is not without charm, as this game would have been an award-winning achievement in 1986 or so. Everything is done well, for that era, but, much like steam locomotives, I’m just not convinced this style really works nowadays. Players with that certain hunger for this sort of game will be satisfied, although mainstream gamers will probably find their gaming dollar better spent elsewhere.
The full review is available at the website linked below.

2404: Eschalon Book 1 Review
Basilisk Games
Eschalon: Book I
Buy Eschalon: Book I

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A Q&A With Epic's Mike Capps
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 3 comments

A new interview with Epic's Mike Capps is now available from Wired. In the Q&A Capps discusses the online gaming press, the importance of efficiency in game design, and the prevalence of first person shooters in the marketplace.

One of the main themes I'm seeing at this DICE is the idea that it's in a company's best interests to keep the suits, the corporate owners, away from the talent, the development teams. What do you think about that?
I think it's crazy. Because talent without focus on business is a really, really dangerous thing. Blizzard is a great example. I don't know how they've been so successful and as huge as they have. But to throw away a game three times. That's not necessarily something to be proud of in perhaps your methodology so much as that somebody somewhere up high has the willingness to say, "You know, it's not working." That's very different from saying you're producing efficiently. Does that make sense?

And you're talking specifically about?
Like Starcraft, I guess they threw away three engines, or something. I think they could've gotten it done quicker and faster through an iterative process that wasn't quite so... "Work forever, throw it away." And I think that's the thing that the CFO serves such a great purpose, there's somebody who's putting a control on the other side. At our office, it used to be me, and now it's Rod [Fergusson], who fights with Cliff[y B].

And it's a purposeful tension, because Cliff wants more, badder, cooler, stuff, and Rod says, this is all you can have and if you want cake, you're going to have to not eat pizza for dinner. And that tension is really important, and if you get into the "design is law," you lose your tension and then God knows what you end up with or how long it takes to get there.

Check out the full interview at the website linked below.

Wired: Talent Without Business Is Dangerous
Epic Games

Mac Games News for Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Penumbra: Black Plague Reviewed6:00 AM
Spore Coming In September6:00 AM
Wrath Of The Lich King Screenshots6:00 AM
Yahtzee For iPod Released6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Wednesday, February 13, 2008 on one page

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