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The 12 Best Games For Mac

Hey, look! A sleek computer with a piece of fruit embossed on it. Did you splurge for a Mac Pro of save money and get the totally capable iMac. Either way, good move, those thing just work. And contrary to popular belief, there’s loads of games to be played on Apple’s OS. The best twelve await you below.

Amnesia: The Dark Descent

Horror games tend to make players focus on retaliation, promising them the power to beat back the monsters and night-things that plague them. Frictional Games’ acclaimed adventure succeeds by continually making you feel underwhelmed and out-of-sorts while taking place in a world that so intriguing that you’ll still want to want to keep on playing.

A Good Match for: Cthulu lovers. With a protagonist driven mad by the evil he’s trying to fight ina remote location, Dark Descent‘s basic plot structure and mood shares DNA with the iconic work of H.P Lovecraft.

Not for Those Who Want: To sleep at night. The more time you spend in the dark in Amnesia, the more disorientation gets thrown at you. Our advice? Get a night light for when you finish the game.

Here’s how it looks in action.

Bejeweled

One of the most popular game franchises ever finds one of its best iterations on Apple’s mobile phone. The hook here is the Diamond Mine mode, which use the same match-three mechanic to dig through layers of dirt… to expose more gems… to dig though more layers of dirt. Get the point?

A Good Match for: Fireworks lovers. A good stretch of Diamond Mine offers up explosions of colour and sound that rival those of any Fourth of July celebration.

Not for Those Who Want: The standard, more placid Bejeweled experience. While it looks nearly the same, Diamond Mine Mode presents players with a nerve-racking twist on vanilla Bejeweled.

Here’s how it looks in action.

Braid

Four years ago, Braid came out and changed people’s perceptions of what video games–especially independently developed ones–could be. The time-manipulating platformer gave players an experience that channeled the ephemeral nature of selective memory and the sting of lost love. Braid became a bona fide hit on the Xbox 360, thanks to a substantive maturity that ESRB labels don’t necessarily speak to. Its success validated both indie games and digital distribution on consoles in one fell swoop, and it’s since landed on other platforms like the Mac.

A Good Match for: Therapists. Interacting with Braid did more than simply challenge players to figure out when to pause time on a particular level; it also made them think about turning points throughout their own personal histories and what they’d do differently if the chance were given.

Not for Those Who Want: To feel stymied. Braid offers nothing in the way of hints or clues. It’ll feel great when you figure out the solutions of its puzzles but you’ll be stumped for a while before you get there.

Here’s how it looks in action.

Galaxy on Fire 2 Full HD

Fishlabs’ sci-fi dogfighting title is an extremely uncommon species — a Florida bonneted bat, maybe? — of game development. The German dev studio originally developed the title for iOS, but then upscaled it for release on the Mac App store. Native Mac games that migrate within the Apple ecosystem are rare already, but for one to be so good is even rarer still.

A Good Match for: Hubble Space Telescope fans. Not only does Galaxy on Fire take you to the imagined far reaches of the known universe, it also let you take pictures from any perspective with its Action Freeze 3D screenshot tool.

Not for Those Who Want: to play on Windows. You may be able to play Windows games on Mac computers with Boot Camp and some elbow grease but you can’t do the opposite. For once, PC gamers find themselves out of luck.

Here’s how it looks in action.

Limbo

One way to look at the cult hit by Danish dev studio PlayDead is to imagine it as a purgatory for video game characters. This indie game’s bleak Bauhaus palette, hollow-eyed central character and ghostly gameworld all speak to a stark single-mindedness that makes playing the game chillingly addictive. You don’t get sold a story with Limbo, but the experience is so sharply crafted you don’t need anyone telling you why to care.

A Good Match for: Sadists who want to see what really happens when you miss a jump. In Mario or Sonic games, you get a cute little fail animation when you flub a leap. When you miscalculate a hurdle in Limbo, the character’s legs snap painfully, an arm can go flying or his head can roll gently down a slight hill. These little deaths are alternately sad, shocking and hilarious and you’ll find yourself anticipating them even as they frustrate you.

Not for Those Who Want: Replayability. Limbo clocks in at about 8-10 hours and that’s being generous. Once you’re done with it, you’ll never forget it but — since nothing changes on subsequent playthroughs — you’ll also have no reason to go back to it.

Here’s how it looks in action.

Left 4 Dead

The unique symbiosis that multiplayer shooters generate amongst players gets forced on you in Valve’s hit zombie apocalypse shooter, where you play as one of four human survivors. You can’t heal yourself and need to rely on the kindness of strangers to make it through the levels. When you get revived from a near-death experience, the altruism’s enough to make you have faith in humanity again.

A Good Match for: Exhibitionists. Left 4 Dead‘s key innovation is in its complex ”Director” AI algorithm, which tracks how you and teammates are playing and ramps up the level of threat in response. It’s always watching you and shows its appreciation with zombies with lasso-like tongues.

Not for Those Who Want: Individual glory. You can play solo with AI partners manning the roles of Zoe, Louis, Francis or Bill, but it’s a far lesser experience. Play with others; it’s good for you.

Here’s how it looks in action.

Minecraft

The best way to explain Minecraft‘s success is to see it as tapping into humanity’s need to build huge outlandish structures. Indie designer Markus Persson’s hit title has let people recreate everything from the Death Star to retro video game levels, while also providing a survival adventure mechanic to keep things interesting.

A Good Match for: Frustrated urban planners. Aside from the dodging the game’s monstrous green Creepers, all you need to build your Tower of Babel is patience and time.

Not for Those Who Want: Hi-res graphics. Part of Minecraft‘s charm is in its blown-out pixellated aesthetics so, if you prefer a steady diet of Unreal Engine-powered content, pass up Mojang’s sandbox phenomenon.

Here’s how it looks in action.

NBA Jam

EA’s re-boot of the over-the-top b-ball franchise set old-school fans on fire with it hit in 2010 and gets a solid port to the Mac App Store

A Good Match for: Decomissioned arcade warriors. NBA Jam approached the level of national religion during its heyday and the involvement of series creator Mark Turmwell and original announcer Tim Kitzrow will have you singing hoops hosannas all over again.

Not for Those Who Want: Realism. Jam‘s caricatures are the antithesis of NBA 2K‘s devotion to history, so forget about stats or half-court strategies. Boom-shakalaka-boom is all that matters here.

Here’s how it looks in action.

Portal 2

Call it the Superman 2 or Empire Strikes Back of video games. Valve’s follow-up to their 2007 classic improves on the humour, characterization and puzzle-solving of its predecessor to deliver a tight, focused experience that preserves the series’ teleportational joys while scuffing up its minimalism and adding clever new game mechanics.

A Good Match for: Comedy lovers. The voicework alone — performed in stellar fashion by Stephen Merchant and Ellen McLain — will make you laugh out loud but the brain-teasing puzzles and embedded gags keep the chuckles coming even when everything else in the game goes quiet.

Not for Those Who Want: Mediocrity. People who argue with Portal 2‘s greatness are like folks complaining that diamonds came from dirt. Their argument is invalid.

Here’s how it looks in action.

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty

It’s one of very few video games that can be called a national obsession. Elite players of Blizzard’s real-time strategy sequel can out-earn corporate middlemen in China or Korea, but the sci-fi conflict simulator’s most significant currency is the devotion it gets from millions all over the world.

A Good Match for: Jugglers. Succeeding in StarCraft II means waging war on multiple fronts as you keep an eye on resources, deployment, defence and offence in skirmishes where you can be overrun in an instant.

Not for Those Who Want: Gentle introductions. New participants to the Starcraft multiplayer experience will get chewed up as they learn the strengths and weaknesses of the Zerg, Protoss and Terran factions.

Here’s how it looks in action.

Team Fortress 2

Valve’s cartoony multiplayer shooter was one of the surprises in their 2007 Orange Box compilation, debuting as a sort of user-powered story engine where the players’ actions — as one of nine classes — determine the drama. Since then, it’s been one of the most robustly supported releases on PC, growing organically like few other games.

A Good Match for: Management consultants. Success happens best in Team Fortress 2 when everyone on a squad focuses on their role and not on individual glories. So, when the Medic sticks to healing, the Engineer to turret placement and the Spy to subterfuge, everybody wins.

Not for Those Who Want: Loot. Or any other kind of micro-transactions, really. There’s no real have/have-not divide in TF2, but you’re a nobody if your Demoman’s not kitted out in cool duds. Grabbing gear is the main driver for much of the TF2 hardcore and you’ll be hard-pressed to resist its seductive pull.

Here’s how it looks in action.

Trine 2

The Trine franchise has gone from being a quirky, under-appreciated release in its first game to a 2011 title with high expectations. The puzzle/platformer hybrid meets all of them, letting players romp together through its gorgeously shimmery gameworld via oft-requested online co-op.

A Good Match for: Fans of dogs and cats sleeping together. Trine 2‘s cross-platform play means that Mac and Windows players can take turns as the Wizard, Thief and Warrior.

Not for Those Who Want: New game mechanics. Trine 2‘s triumph is in execution, not innovation. The levitation powers, grappling and combat of the three main characters all riff on things you’ve seen elsewhere.

Here’s how it looks in action.


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