Games are an area where Windows fanboys love to gloat over the Mac. It’s true that Windows has a much bigger range of games available (although thanks to Boot Camp and the like this isn’t such an issue these days). However there are some pretty decent games for the Mac too, and many of them are even free!
Here are the top ten best free Mac games currently available – in my humble opinion. I hope you enjoy reading, and playing the games!
This racing game is an homage to the classic Super Mario Kart game. For those not familiar with the basic theme, you race a go-kart on a series of wacky tracks, picking up various specials along the way such as speedups, rockets to blast other karts, and so on. This game is at pretty early stage of development so graphics and levels are fairly basic, but it’s still great fun to play, and is a great game for kids!
If you’re old enough to remember the early 80′s movie Tron, you’re sure to remember the light cycles sequence. With Armagetron, you can ride your very own light cycle and do battle with other cycles, much like in the movie. The idea is that, as you ride around, you leave a coloured “wall” or trail behind you. Trap your opponents so that they end up hitting a “wall”, while avoiding getting trapped yourself. And no, there’s no way to stop! The graphics in the game are pretty much as good as the ones in the movie, and it’s great fun (if nerve-wracking) to play.
A somewhat surrealist affair, l1neum’s heritage lies in the ancient arcade game Qix. The basic idea is to fence off parts of the playing area, which contains enemies roaming around it. If you fence off 80 percent of the area, you beat the level. You can also score bonuses and get extra features by fencing off the enemies themselves, as well as coloured bricks within the area. The concept is simple enough, but l1neum gets pretty hard to play after the first couple of levels. It looks beautiful though, with glowing, spinning graphics aplenty, and the drum-and-bass soundtrack keeps the pace moving. The “gamescape” addition adds a further artistic element by letting you visualise other players’ games as 3-D “buildings”. It’s surreal all right, but pretty cool with it!
This 3-D first-person shooter (FPS) game was actually an entry in a game writing competition (it was one of the winners). The concept is simple: You’re a bodyguard protecting a VIP (in white) who walks around a randomly generated city. Meanwhile, various knife, gun and grenade-wielding assassins attempt to kill him. You have to kill or otherwise “incapacitate” them first. The graphics are ridiculously simple – blocks, basically – but the movement of the people in the game is uncannily realistic, and the game itself is maddeningly addictive. Check out the “psychic aim” mode too – deeply cool. This game is in a mould all of its own!
Another variant on the Super Mario theme, this is a side-scrolling run-and-jump platform game in the style of Super Mario Bros. Great graphics and funky music make it another kiddie favourite, though later levels are also challenging for adults (well, for me, anyway!). A built-in level editor, along with plenty of downloadable levels, helps with the replay value of this game.
This is an open-source space trading/arcade game, quite similar to Wing Commander: Privateer. The game is fairly complex – just learning how to control and navigate the ship takes the best part of a day – but it’s worth the learning curve. It’s constantly in development, so it’s sometimes a bit rough round the edges, but it’s a huge game with a vast universe to explore, tons of missions, lots of aliens to interact with and many different ships to try out. Gorgeous graphics and a passable soundtrack add to the fun.
This open-source flight simulator has been around for years. It finally made it to version 1.0 at the end of 2007, and it’s great to see a supported Mac version. It’s a fully fledged affair, comparable to Microsoft’s Flight Simulator X (though not quite as slick). Choose from hundreds of different aircraft (some of them, like the Ogel and Santa claus, are somewhat silly), strap yourself in, and take off. It’s hard to get the hang of to start with, unless you happen to be a trained pilot, but perseverance rewards you with some spectacular scenery and great flying moments. One for a lazy Sunday afternoon.
Ever played Civilization? Then you’ll be right at home with Freeciv, which is an open-source strategy game along very similar lines. If you haven’t played Civ, then you’re in for a learning curve to rival Vega Strike’s, but again, it’s well worth the effort. The online documentation does a pretty good job at explaining everything, though the info is sometimes hard to find. The object is to control an entire civilization from ancient times through to the space age, helping them learn and discover new technologies along the way. Your civilization will also need to do battle with other races in order to survive. This is a very absorbing game that you can play in lots of different ways.
If you were ever a fan of the classic space arcade/strategy trading game Elite, you will seriously enjoy Oolite. It’s pretty much a faithful clone of the original game, but with graphics and sound brought into the 21st century. However, with the addition of Oolite Expansion Packs (OXPs) you can take the game to a whole new level, with new ships, sounds, missions and planets. Highly addictive.
This fantasy strategy game is almost the poster child for quality, free open-source gaming. It’s an extremely well-written game; something that I’d pay good money for in the stores! Graphics and sound are of a high quality, and gameplay is excellent. I found some of the campaigns to be a bit too tough, but they’re constantly improving them to get the balance right. With lots of extra campaign scenarios to download, this is a game you can lose yourself in for days!
Well I hope you liked my top ten free Mac games. Do you have any others to add to the list? If so please add your comments!