We continue our list of the best games for Mac. The next category is:
Sports and racing games
Blood Bowl 2
The original Blood Bowl didn't appear on the Mac (it appeared on iPad), but it took the monstrous races of the Warhammer games - ogres, orcs and other fantasy standards - and dropped them on to the field of an American football game. This sequel is really just more of the same, although it upgrades the game's graphics considerably - which might be a problem for owners of Macs that don't have a decent graphics card.
We don't understand English football, let alone the US version, but Blood Bowl 2 kicks off with a (not-so) friendly match that acts as an introduction to the game. Once you've got the hang of the basics you can continue the single-player game by taking charge of the Reikland Reavers in a series of matches against computer-controlled teams.
These matches play out rather like traditional turn-based strategy games, allowing you to click on individual players and then move them around the pitch. But, as it's a Warhammer game, you also have options such as the ability to 'blitz' an opponent, taking them out in the most violent manner possible.
This single-player mode is fun, and a good way to get to know the game, but the real attraction for many people will be the various multiplayer options, including the ability to set up your own online league, with teams that gain experience and power as they win matches.
Games such as the F1 series take a rather serious approach to racing, concentrating on realistic reproduction of racing tracks, terrain and weather, as well as the handling of your car in order to really test your driving skills.
The Dirt series, however, is a bit more like the Fast And Furious films - it's all about the high-speed action and the thrill of hurtling around corners and over hills with the pedal permanently pushed to the floor. Dirt Rally boasts that it lets you race on "the most dangerous tracks in the world", ranging from the rain-swept roads of Wales, to the rocky hills of Greece. You can even drive through Hell itself - which, apparently, is a well-known rallycross track in Norway.
There are three game modes to provide variety, as well as 40 different types of car that you can drive. The main Championship mode allows you to drive through a series of races in order to earn prize money so that you can upgrade your car. Alternatively, you can choose Rally mode, which challenges your speed in individual races on a variety of tracks and weather conditions. There's also a Hillclimb mode, which requires extra powerful cars in order to reach the top of challenging hill tracks, such as the famous Pike's Peak in Colorado.
The game's physics and mechanical systems are highly realistic, so you do need genuine driving skill to beat your opponents, but you can also indulge your inner speed-demon a bit, as the game includes a 'recovery' option that can step back in time when things go wrong, and get you back on the track again (albeit with a brief time penalty). The game is available on both the App Store and Steam but - as is so often the case - the Steam version of the game is cheaper, and also offers an online multiplayer mode that isn't available if you buy it from the App Store. The game's system requirements aren't as steep as some other racing games, so it should work with most recent Mac models - but it's definitely worth double-checking Feral's website before buying.
Company: Feral Interactive
Where to buy: Steam (£44.99/$59.99), Mac App Store (£48.99/$49.99)
System requirements: macOS 10.12.5 or later, 2GHz Intel Core i5, AMD Radeon R9 M290 (2GB), Intel Iris Pro 6200 (1.5GB)
Unfortunately, the 2018 and 2019 versions Codemaster's F1 series don't seem to have been released on the Mac yet, so the most recent version for Mac racers is still F1 2017.
The format of the game is similar to the 2016 edition although, of course, it's been updated with the 20 official circuits from the 2017 season. And while the format of the game remains essentially the same - with both a Career mode and Championship mode available to test your driving skills - the 2017 edition really goes to town and provides a wider, more varied range of teams, cars and tracks for you to choose from.
You can drive cars from the Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull, Renault and Williams teams, and the Career mode now stretches through 10 full years, allowing you to develop team skills as well your own individual racing skills, in order to improve performance in vital areas such as pit-stop times and repairs. There are also research and development skills - almost like a strategy game - that allow you to improve engine performance as well.
The main Career mode now takes you through a full 10 years of racing, with a Pro Career option that ramps up the difficulty level and also requires you to complete qualifying sessions as well. If you don't want to commit to 10 years of driving then the Championship mode offers a more straightforward challenge, with 20 races that duplicate the official 2017 season, with the option of choosing between modern and classic cars. And, for the occasional quick fix, there are Instant Race and Time Trial options as well.
If you buy the game from Steam - which is cheaper than the App Store in the UK anyway - then you can play online against Mac, PC and Linux users, but there's no multiplayer option available with the version of the game sold on the App Store. The game is also quite picky with its system requirements, so you should check Feral's web site to make sure your Mac can run the game properly - especially with that rather steep £45/$60 price tag.
Racing games on the Mac have rather faded away recently, but FlatOut 2 is an old-timer that's still a lot of fun.
There's no attempt to simulate real-world physics or recreate actual race tracks here - FlatOut 2 is an out-and-out arcade game in which you just drive like crazy and smash anything that gets in your way. The main Championship mode lets you choose from 34 different vehicles, and then progress through a series of increasingly difficult races set in locations such as the LA storm drains and Rocky Mountain forests. There's also an online multiplayer mode, as well as a series of mini-games and Destruction Derby Arenas where you can really let loose.
It's not been a good year for football - or any other sport for that matter - but footie fans can at least cheer themselves up as the year ends, with the release of the latest edition of Football Manager.
Mind you, the fact that Football Manager 2021 has modified its transfer system to reflect the impact of COVID-19 and its effect on club finances might come as a bit of a shock for those who just want a blast of pure escapism. Thankfully, though, the game does at least allow the fans back into the stands to watch games once more, and their presence will also give your bank account a boost, gradually allowing the club to get back on to its financial feet.
The way you interact with your team and journalists has been overhauled, with a system of 'quick chats' allowing you to take players aside for a bit of encouragement every now and then. There's also a new 'gestures' system that allows you to make your point more clearly in press conferences and meetings, perhaps greeting a player with open arms, or sulking and shaking your head like José Mourinho when the press ask tricky questions.
When it's time for kick-off, there are new pre-match tactical briefings that allow you to make last-minute changes, and the decision-making algorithms that control your players' actions on the pitch have been updated, making them faster and more responsive to changing circumstances. The graphics have been updated too, with smoother animations and improved lighting and camera controls to enhance the atmosphere. You can really go to town when celebrating, with celebrations on the podium and confetti flying all over the place. And the best news of all is that there's a free demo available on Steam as well.
Gravel is the four-wheel equivalent of cheesy WWE wrestling, and it's all about fun and excitement as you tear around a series of off-road race tracks, chewing up the scenery and generally defying the laws of physics.
The game starts pretty quickly - after a cheesy intro with moody drivers growling at the camera like a bunch of headbanging rockers - and throws you straight into your first race. This acts as a simple tutorial, explaining the basic controls as you go along, and success in this race unlocks additional tracks and racing modes. There are four different types of races - Cross Country consists of long races across huge open areas, and a variety of different landscapes. Wild Rush mode gives you a series of lap races, littered with natural obstacles, such as rocks and debris, while Speed Cross takes a more realistic approach, bases on actual race tracks in various locations around the world. Then, just for fun, there's the Stadium mode, where you charge around obstacle courses that are more like a destruction derby than a straightforward race.
That's not to say that Gravel is completely unrealistic. The game does allow you to fine tune technical features, such as the transmission, stabilization and car brakes. But it's pretty forgiving when you mistreat your car and collide with trees, boulders and other obstacles. In fact, at one point I thought I'd try taking a shortcut across a lake, and found myself skimming across the surface of the water like a jet-ski bike. And, if you do manage to wipe yourself out, you can just hit the 'rewind' button and watch yourself step back in time so that you can get back on track once more.
It's a big heap of racing fun - although the frequent plugs for the Gravel web-TV channel get a bit tedious at times - but the system requirements for the high-speed 3D graphics are pretty steep, so check the App Store for details before buying.
Company: Feral Interactive
Where to buy: Steam (£24.99/$39.99), Mac App Store (£34.99/$35.99)
System requirements: Mac with OS X v10.10.5, 1.8GHz Intel dual-core processor, discrete graphics card with 512MB VRAM
The previous games in the Grid series have been great fun, focusing on high-speed, pedal-to-the-metal racing action, rather than realistic physics and handling. Game modes such as Demolition Derby in Grid 2 were more about smashing into your rivals than actually crossing the finishing line, but in Grid Autosport you do need to concentrate a bit more on careful handling as you charge around the various tracks in the game's five main racing modes.
The main single-player Career mode throws you straight in as a pro driver representing your team in five different types of race events that take place on realistic reproductions of tracks ranging from Indianapolis Speedway to the streets of Barcelona. Touring events are perhaps the most realistic, dropping you into a crowded grid where you have to jostle with closely packed rival cars and carefully pick your way to the front of the pack. Open Wheel racing is the most demanding, though, with very light, rear-drive cars that require really careful handling. At the other extreme are the Tuner events, which are more like traditional Grid games, allowing you to entertain the crowds as you show off your drifting and other skills.
Outside the Career mode you can create customised time trials, and there's a fun split-screen mode for playing with a friend at home. There's an online multiplayer mode available as well, but that's currently only available if you buy the game from Steam, as the version sold on the Mac App Store has to wait for an update to add multiplayer mode. The game's a bit picky about the graphics cards that it needs too, so check the system requirements before buying.
Micro Machines World Series
The original Micro Machines games were very popular on various consoles way back when. This 2017 update is an attempt to recapture the retro charm of the original games, whilst also introducing more modern online, multiplayer elements.
It's a fun setup, putting you in charge of a variety of toy cars and trucks as you drive around race courses located within an ordinary home. Dashing across the worktop in a kitchen, or zooming around the front-room floor, all the while attempting to avoid obstacles, such as a stack of cassettes, or using a slice of toast as a bridge to leap past your opponent.
There are three main game modes, and it's probably best to start by playing on your own against the computer for a while, as you learn how to drive properly - it took me about 30 seconds to realise that keyboard controls are virtually useless, so you'll probably need a gamepad or controller - and also to control the various weapons and power-ups that you can use to knock-out your opponents. With a bit of practice you'll be ready for the Public Match mode, where you play against other people online, and there's also a 'local' option that lets you play with three friends at home.
That makes it a good game for a bit of post-pub fun with your friends, but Micro Machines will also be fun for younger players who can just enjoy the table-top racing action with their favourite toy cars, fire engines and other vehicles.
Company: Virtual Programming
Where to buy: Mac App Store
System requirements: macOS 10.13 or later, dual-core Intel i5, discrete GPU with 4GB memory
Most racing games focus on four-wheel racing, but MXGP3 lets you put on your leathers and gear up for some mud-splattered biking action in this game based on the official Motocross Championships. The game includes 18 different tracks taken from the 2016 Motocross (MXGP) championships, and allows you to ride bikes from both Motorcross (250cc and up) and MX2 (below 250cc) classes. You start with one of each type of bike, along with 1000 credits that you can spend on upgrades and unlocking new bikes. And, of course, you'll earn more credits as you progress and win races through the season.
The game takes a pretty serious approach to racing, particularly in the main Career mode, where you need to attract sponsors and deal with contracts and transfer windows. And if you're not familiar with the finer points of clutch control or scrubbing your jumps then you might struggle at first. You don't need to worry too much about your weight in four-wheel racing games, but leaning forward, backward or over to the side is a crucial part of controlling your bike in Motocross. There are 'tutorial' files to help out here, but they're simply pages of text that explain how these racing techniques work, and the game doesn't have a simple tutorial track to help you get the hang of things.
But, once the engine starts revving up, and the dust starts flying, the game does a great job of capturing the high-speed thrills of racing, as you tilt over and go screeching around a hairpin bend, and weaving through the field to grab the lead. Along with the Career mode, the game also allows you to represent your country in the Monster Energy mode, or you can create a custom series of races in Championship mode. Alternatively, for a quick fix of two-wheel action, you can tackle individual races in the Time Attack and Grand Prix modes.
The steep learning curve - and system requirements - for novice riders means that this isn't the best option for casual players who just want to indulge in some high-speed heroics, but if you're a fan of Motocross then MXGP3 is probably the best two-wheel race currently available on the Mac.
This is one for the kids. Developed by UK-based Roll7, OlliOlli2 is a skateboarding game that was originally released on the PlayStation and the handheld PS Vita, so you need to know the difference between your manuals, reverts and grinds if you're going to get anywhere. It'd also help if you have a gamepad to control your moves - you can play with a keyboard, but the complex jumps and flips that you have to master will work better with a proper gamepad.
OlliOlli2 doesn't have the slick 3D graphics of other skateboarding games, such as the never-ending Tony Hawk series, and its side-scrolling 2D graphics look pretty dated at first. In fact, the game looks a lot like an old-fashioned platform game, with lots of ledges, ramps and other obstacles that you have to get past in order to complete each level. And, of course, there's the added difficulty of mastering the various jumps, flips and skateboarding combos that you need in order to rack up a high score.
Fortunately, there's a handy tutorial for old-timers like us, which introduces a few basic jumps and tricks before throwing you in at the deep end. The single-player game includes 50 levels, divided into Amateur and Pro difficulties, along with a challenging Rad Mode that will really test your skateboard skills. You can also invite some friends around to play the split-screen Combo Rush mode, which lets up to four people play together on the same computer.