Edit: We have an even more up to date Mac Games feature here: The 47 best Mac games

The Mac games scene has been pretty quiet over the last couple of years – ironically due to the success of the iPhone and iPod touch, which has led many game developers to focus on Apple’s mobile devices rather than the Mac itself. 

However, things are starting to look up again, following the launch of Steam by Valve Software. Steam has been described as ‘the iTunes Store for games’, and although most of the games available on Steam are still PC games, Valve has got the ball rolling by releasing Mac versions of several of its own top titles for the first time. At long last we can play games such as Half-Life 2, Team Fortress 2 and Portal, and it looks like a number of other game developers have plans to make new Mac games available on Steam. Throw in the long-awaited release of StarCraft II and the forthcoming Diablo III and Mac gamers will have plenty to look forward to in the next few months.

Top 6 Strategy Games

1) StarCraft II

Company: Blizzard
URL: www.blizzard.co.uk
System Requirements: Mac with OS X v10.3.9, 1.2GHz G4, G5 or Intel processor, 64Mb VRAM
Price: £39.95

It’s only just been released so we’ve barely had time to tear off the wrapper, but there’s no doubt that StarCraft II is one of the biggest game releases of the year for both Macs and PCs. This sequel to the classic StarCraft follows the continuing conflict between humanity and the alien Protoss and Zerg, but it provides improved 3D graphics, larger armies and bigger battles. StarCraft II casts you as a human hero called Jim Raynor, but Blizzard has also announced that this will be the first part of a trilogy of games with two planned expansion packs focusing on the alien Protoss and Zerg. And, of course, you can connect to Blizzard’s Battle.Net network for endless multiplayer games too.

2) Age Of Empires III

Company: MacSoft
URL: store.apple.com/uk
System Requirements: Mac with OS X v10.3.9, 1.2GHz G4, G5 or Intel processor, 64Mb VRAM
Price: £39.95

First released back in 2006, Age Of Empires III still looks really good and continues to be a strong seller year after year. The game allows you to control one of eight European nations, such as Britain, France, Germany or Spain, as you venture forth to conquer the newly discovered Americas. The primary campaign focuses on the exploits of an adventurer named Morgan Black and his descendants during the colonial era, but there’s also a ‘skirmish’ mode that allows you to just dip in and play quick battles when you feel like it. There are also two good expansion packs – War Chiefs and Asian Dynasties – though it’s a shame they haven’t been bundled into a ‘Gold Edition’ compilation as it’s a bit pricey buying them separately. 

3) Civilization IV: Gold Edition

Company: Aspyr
URL: www.aspyr.com
System Requirements: Mac with OS X v.10.3.9, 1.8GHz G4, G5 or Intel processor, 64Mb VRAM 
Price: £39.95

While Age of Empires and Rome Total War provide crowd-pleasing graphics and battle scenes, the ‘Civ’ games tend to focus more on the in-depth detail involved in building and developing a nation. Diplomacy, negotiation, and keeping your people happy are just as important as simply charging off to war at the first opportunity. This Gold Pack includes the original Civilization IV, as well as the Warlords expansion pack, which introduces historical figures such as Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan. There are two further expansion packs available as well – Colonization and Beyond The Sword – which should keep you busy for months. The games are a bit picky about graphics cards, though, and won’t work with the Intel GMA graphics used by older Mac Mini and MacBook models.

4) Warcraft III

Company: Blizzard
URL: eu.blizzard.com
System Requirements: Mac with OS X v.10.3.9, 400MHz G3, G4, G5 or Intel processor
Price: £10

The game that gave birth to the mighty World Of Warcraft is actually a relatively straightforward strategy game, but it’s immensely enjoyable and still enjoys a strong following eight years after its original release. The storyline revolves around the conflicts and alliances between four separate factions – humans, elves, orcs and undead – and you get to play all four during the course of the game so there’s plenty of variety to keep things interesting. There’s also an excellent expansion pack, called The Frozen Throne. The good news is that Warcraft III has been around for so long that it will run on any recent Mac, and you can now pick up the main game and the expansion pack for about a tenner each (though you may need to check online for the latest updates).

5) Rome Total War: Gold Edition

Company: Feral Interactive 
URL: www.feralinteractive.com
System Requirements: Mac with OS X v.10.5.8, 1.6GHz Intel processor, 128Mb VRAM
Price: £20

It took a few years for this historical strategy game to come to the Mac, and the 3D graphics do look a little dated, but Rome Total War still manages to create a sense of epic scope in its battles as thousands of soldiers clash to decide the fate of the Roman Empire. The modest graphics also mean that the game runs well even on older, less powerful Mac models.  

You start off as the head of a roman family, scheming and plotting to gain power in the senate, eventually taking control of the entire Roman Empire and then – in the Barbarians expansion pack that’s also included in this ‘Gold Edition’ – facing the threat of the barbarian hordes led by warriors such as Attila The Hun.

6) Black And White 2

Company: Feral 
URL: www.feralinteractive.com
System Requirements: Intel Mac
Price: £35

The Black And White games are a bit offbeat, and not to everyone’s taste. However, they’re so imaginative and experimental that it’s well worth taking a look at if you’re a fan of strategy games (there’s a trial on the Feral web site). You actually play the part of a god, depicted on screen by a disembodied hand that you use to manipulate the world around you. Your aim is to get the people of this world to worship you, either by treating them nicely or by threatening them with your godly powers. You also get to control a ‘creature’ – such as a giant gorilla or lion – which you can train and which will fight for you against invading armies.