We continue our list of the best games for Mac. The next category is:
Shooting & action games
Alien: Isolation - The Collection
Most of the games based on the Alien films have been pretty awful - in fact, Alien: Colonial Marines even prompted a lawsuit back in 2013 from disgruntled customers who felt they'd been misled by the advertising for the game. Fortunately, as our friends over at GameAgent recently remarked, Alien: Isolation is one of the 'good Alien games'.
Originally released for the PC in 2015, Alien: Isolation has arrived on the Mac and does a great job of capturing the tension and atmosphere of that very first Alien film. The game is set 15 years after Alien, following the discovery of the black-box flight-recorder from Ellen Ripley's ship, The Nostromo. Ripley, of course, is still missing, so her daughter Amanda heads off to recover the black-box from the space station that found it.
No prizes for guessing what Amanda and her team discover when they arrive at the space station: a toothy xenomorph on the loose, and gradually working its way through the terrified crew. Your task as Amanda is not to go in with all guns blazing, but simply to avoid the alien and stay alive - hiding inside a locker, or creating a distraction that will draw the alien away for a few crucial seconds.
The game creates a real sense of tension, and the computer-controlled alien is smart enough to provide a really formidable foe. This 'collection' also includes a number of bonus missions, including Crew Expendable, which re-enacts events from the original Alien film. However, the game's system requirements are pretty high, so you should check that your Mac is up to it before buying the game (see GameAgent for more information).
Assassin's Creed 2
Where to buy: Mac App Store
Requirements: Mac OS X 10.5.8, Intel processor, graphics card with 256MB VRAM
The Assassin's Creed games are a kind of medieval version of Batman. The second game in this popular series casts you as Ezio Auditore da Firenze, a nobleman in 15th-century Italy, who turns assassin in order to avenge his murdered family. You get to sneak around in the shadows and swoop across the rooftops, cutting down your enemies with a variety of weapons and gadgets. Alternatively, you can use stealth skills to blend in with the crowd and evade pursuit. You can chase around on horseback or ride a gondola, and you even get to fly in a medieval helicopter designed by Leonardo Da Vinci.
If you like this then there's another game in the series, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, that's also available on the Mac.
Batman: Arkham City
The previous Batman game (still worth a play - see above) was set in the claustrophobic confines of Gotham City's infamous Arkham Asylum, but this time around the action expands onto a much larger canvas, as a section of Gotham City has been walled off and turned into a vast open-air prison ruled over by a selection of Batman's greatest foes. Taking the game outdoors was a smart move, allowing the game's designers to create an impressive and atmospheric Gotham City, full of gothic landmarks and narrow, grimy alleyways. It also provides a wider range of combat options, allowing you to bat-glide over the rooftops or to go sneaking around the dark streets in search of clues.
The atmospheric design of Gotham City and the parade of Batman's greatest foes makes Batman: Arkham City a real must-have item for any fans of action and adventure games.
Batman fans will be pleased to hear, incidentally, that the next game, Arkham Knight, has been confirmed for the Mac.
The Binding of Isaac
Twisted, sacrilegious and utterly unforgiving: The Binding of Isaac's dungeons full of mutant babies and Bible satire isn't a game to show granny. At the same time, it's a brilliant remix of 'roguelike' roleplaying games (where death is as inevitable as loot), fusing monster-slaying with high-speed shoot 'em up values.
Read our full The Binding Of Isaac review.
In an age where shooting games dominate the entertainment industry but appear to only be interested in raising the spectacle, anything that adds intelligence to the wanton violence is to be welcomed. Fortunately BioShock does this in style (thanks to the incredible underwater city it's set in) and doesn't shirk on the action. Literate, evocative, weird, menacing and packing one of the all-time great twists, it's one of the most important videogames of the 21st century.
Read our full BioShock review
Borderlands Game Of The Year Edition
Where to buy: Mac App Store
Requirements: Mac OS X 10.5.8, Intel Core 2 Duo, graphics card with 256MB VRAM
The futuristic world of Pandora is a wasteland populated by fortune hunters and mercenaries, and it's your job to fight your way through them all in order to locate The Vault - a treasure trove left behind aeons ago by an ancient alien race.
The game has a distinctive cartoon-style graphics - with exaggerated cartoon violence and humour to match - and allows you to play as one of four different characters, each with their own different combat skills. You can play solo, but there's also a four-play co-op mode that's great fun too, and this Game Of The Year Edition for the Mac also includes four extra add-on packs, such as The Zombie Island Of Dr Ned, to keep you going on those cold winter evenings.
[See also: Borderlands 2 for Mac review]
Borderlands - The Pre-Sequel
The Borderlands games are a lot of fun, thanks to their comic book graphics, and their equally comic book style of over-the-top action. This latest addition to the series is called a 'pre-sequel' as it takes place after the original Borderlands and just before the events of Borderlands 2.
The story traces the rise of Handsome Jack, the main villain from Borderlands 2, and it takes you up to the moon of the planet Pandora where the previous games took place. That makes for a nice change of scene, but it also allows you to explore new game mechanics, such as low-gravity jumps that let you soar through the air, and new vehicles to go charging across the lunar landscape.
Like all the Borderlands games, you can play the Pre-Sequel as a straightforward shooter if you want, but there are also role-playing elements with different character classes and skills that you can explore. The Pre-Sequel introduces four new character classes, including the cyborg Enforcer and the Gladiator, who can use a shield like Captain America in the Avengers.
There are a couple of things to watch out for, though. The game is pretty picky about its system requirements, so check out the info on Aspyr's web site before buying (www.gameagent.com). You should also buy it from Steam, rather than the Mac App Store. The Steam version is cheaper, and its multiplayer mode lets you play with people who have the PC version too, so you'll have a lot more people to play with online.
Call Of Duty: Black Ops
Black Ops is a thrilling - and also violent and foul-mouthed - action game that provides an exciting challenge in both its single and multiplayer modes. You play a covert agent named Alex Mason who has been sent on a mission to assassinate Fidel Castro. Under interrogation, you experience a series of flashbacks that conveniently allow you to indulge in some James Bond-esque globe-trotting as you shoot your way around the world, gathering ever more powerful weapons as you go.
Bear in mind, however, that Black Ops is unfortunately extremely particular about which Mac models it will run on. You really do need to check the system info on Aspyr's website before buying.
Castle Crashers is a ridiculous (in the best of ways) over-the-top four-player co-op action game. While it can be played alone, it is best in a group.
Featuring awesome hand-drawn visuals, this side-scrolling 2D arcade title sees you hacking, slashing and magic-ing your way across the land, attempting to save your princess, defend the kingdom and, of course, crashing some castles.
In standard fashion, you work your way through a variety of levels to face the big bad boss at the end. However the map is not purely linear, letting you choose which ways you want to go, and even letting you replay levels for experience and gold or taking on bonus side-missions.
The mechanics of the game are simple, yet there is a lot to enjoy here. You can level up your characters in various ways, making them unique. A huge variety of weapons and pets and items further add to the customisation. The action strikes a perfect balance between co-operative and competitive play. Want to actually go versus your friends? Check out the arenas to duke it out, or the All you can Quaff mini-game for a true exercise in button/key mashing and frenzied competition.
While we found the humour to be a little juvenile at times, the game is overall very funny and highly enjoyable. The playful and cartoony violence make this game suitable for everyone. Bring your friends!
Day Of Infamy
Some of the best games of recent years have started out as 'mods': modifications to earlier games, which then took on a life of their own. That's also the case with Day Of Infamy, which is based on the popular shooter Insurgency from 2014.
Day Of Infamy changes the scene, moving the action to World War II, with 10 battle-zone maps covering cities, forests and villages around South and West Europe.
You're not fighting on your own, though, as this online team-based game pits rival squads against each other, with either 24 or 32 players in each game. There are 70 different weapons available, depending on which army you join, and as well as simply shooting everything in sight, you can also specialise in different skills that may help you to turn the tide in battle. If you sign up for the British Army you can play a Radio Officer who is needed to call in air-strikes or reinforcements, a machine-gunner who lays down suppressing fire, or get into close-combat action with a flame-thrower.
Those large-scale battles can be a bit intimidating for newcomers, so the game also provides a simpler co-operative mode, which allows you to team up with seven other players in order to complete a task. There's also an offline practice mode, where you play on your own with computer-controlled enemies and allies.
It's a shame, however, that the game only provides some simple video tutorials, as a proper tutorial that guides you through the basics of all the different weapons and tactics would help beginners with this fast-paced and challenging action game.
Death Road To Canada
OK - we admit that the chunky, pixelated screenshots don't really do justice to the charm, or the sheer challenge, of this excellent indie retro game.
Death Road to Canada has a familiar setup. The zombie apocalypse has arrived, so - as in all good zombie apocalypse films and TV shows - you hop into a truck and head for the last remaining safe haven for humans, which in this case happens to be Ontario in Canada.
You start off in Florida with just one other character to help you. You can let the game randomly generate your characters, or design your own little pixelated characters based on your friends or your favourite fictional characters. Then you hit the road, stopping along the way to look for food and weapons and, of course, encountering countless zombies, creepy feral cats, and other scary monsters. During your adventures you'll also encounter new characters that you can recruit, such as the Wizard, who can zap zombies with his Wizard Stick, and you can even recruit a little doggie and put him in charge too.
Most of the game is randomly generated, so you can play it over and over without ever repeating yourself - which is just as well, since Death Road is a 'permadeath' game. There's no Save option, so if you die you just have to go back to the beginning and start again. That can be frustrating, so if the 'roguelike' genre of permadeath games doesn't suit you then you should probably try something a little more forgiving. However, the sheer fun and retro design of Death Road ensures that playing it over and over doesn't get boring, and the retro graphics mean that it runs well even on really old Macs (and there's an iOS version too).
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
It's five years since Deus Ex: Human Revolution was released on the Mac, and a year since the PC version of Mankind Divided, so it's good to finally see the latest in the Deus Ex series arriving on the Mac in time for Christmas.
The game is set in 2029, two years after the events of Human Revolution, which resulted in widespread distrust of people - like our hero, Adam Jensen - whose bodies have been enhanced by mechanical 'augs' (augmentations) that give them superhuman abilities. During a mission with Interpol, Jensen finds evidence of a conspiracy designed to drum up support for new laws that would segregate augmented humans from the rest of the population.
That's basically the plot of every X-Men film in the last 20 years, so Mankind Divided isn't exactly dripping in originality. But, as ever with the Deus Ex series, the fun lies in the execution, and the wonderfully open-ended gameplay that gives you freedom to complete your mission in whatever way you want. In many situations you can try and talk your way out of trouble, use stealth to sneak past enemies, or computer skills to hack through their defences. And, of course, there's always the brute-force option, going in with all guns blazing and using your augs to overpower your enemies.
The gameplay is also enhanced by the depiction of Prague - one of the main locations within the game - as a kind of Blade Runner cyberpunk dystopia, dripping with tech-noir atmosphere. The graphics need a pretty beefy Mac, though, so check on the game's system requirements before buying.
There's a lot going on with Diluvion, as this challenging undersea game combines elements of strategy, RPG, combat and exploration. Diluvion is set in the distant future, when a vast flood - apparently caused by nuclear war - has covered the surface of the Earth, forcing mankind to live below the waves. There's the inevitable ancient prophecy that tells of a Gift, a great treasure hidden in the deepest depths of the ocean that will change the future of humanity. And you are just one of many submarine commanders who sets off in search of the Gift - and, of course, any other treasure and loot that you can pick up along the way.
There's a real mixture of game elements on offer in Diluvion. You start by selecting a ship, which you can upgrade for extra speed, weapons or armour, that you will need in the spectacular underwater combat sequences. However, you also need to recruit and train your crew, and to manage ship's resources such as food and oxygen. And, as well as following the central quest for the Gift, you have a fair amount of freedom to just wander and explore the underwater world, scavenging for treasure and equipment, and occasionally bumping into pirates and assorted sea beasties.
There's a lot to deal with, and it did take us a while to get into the game - the three-dimensional underwater navigation is tricky right from the start, especially when you're trying to line up your torpedoes in the middle of a battle. However, the underwater visuals are a delight, and the atmospheric soundtrack really helps to draw you in as you explore the mysteries of the deep in this distinctive and challenging game.
Don't Starve Together
The original Don't Starve got great reviews when it was first launched for the Mac and PC back in 2014, and the Pocket Edition for iOS looks like being a big hit too. (It features in our video of the top 10 iOS games, in fact.)
The basic premise of the game is simple. You're dropped off on your own in the middle of a hostile wilderness, and you're left to explore and try to survive for as long as you can. Throw in some cute - but deadly - monsters, all rendered in Tim Burton-esque gothic cartoon style, and a permadeath system that will quickly have you pulling your hair out, and you've got one of the most maddeningly addictive games we've seen in ages.
The Shipwrecked expansion pack added some new content, but the game was still very much a single-player adventure. However, the developers have now released this multiplayer version, called Don't Starve Together, that is available as a separate game on its own.
The basic explore-and-survive challenge is still the same, but you can now create a private game where you explore with a group of your own friends, or venture out onto the internet and play with other people online. There's also some content that has been brought in from previous expansion packs, such as a summer heatwave that shrivels all the plants and threatens you with starvation. And, as the focus is on multiplayer action, the £10.99 price tag includes two copies of the game so that you can invite a friend to join you in your wilderness adventures.
At first glance, Drifting Lands looks like a fairly standard sideways-scrolling shoot 'em up, putting you in charge of a battleship that faces the usual endless waves of baddies. However, the game updates the old-school format by adding a number of roleplaying elements that allow you to customise your ship and experiment with different builds that suit your personal playing style.
The game is set in a typical post-apocalypse world, in which the earth been ripped apart by some mysterious catastrophe. You are one of the few survivors, living on a ship called The Ark, and scouting through the shattered remnants of the earth - the Drifting Lands of the title - competing for scarce resources in a series of missions.
You start by choosing from three basic types of ships, which are similar to the classes you find in role-playing games. The Interceptor is the 'rogue' class - fast, and capable of inflicting great damage, but lightly armoured and more vulnerable in battle. The Sentinel is a flying 'tank' - slower, but tough enough to take a lot more punishment, while the Marauder is a jack-of-all-trades that sits between those two extremes.
As you complete various missions you earn credits that you can spend to customise your ship and develop 'skills' that can help you in combat. The Repair skill is a good place to start, making it easier to patch up your ship when the going gets tough, while Dash provides a sudden burst of speed for escaping tougher enemies. You can also learn combat skills, such as using the protective Shield, or firing out mines to do damage over a wide area. The range of skills available gives you plenty of scope for customising your ship and honing your own style of play, and means that Drifting Lands has a lot more variety to offer than conventional shoot 'em ups.
You'll probably need a gamepad to control your ship, though, and this isn't really a game that works well with keyboard and mouse controls. Fortunately, there's a free demo available on Steam, so you can check the game out and get the hang of the basics before paying for the full version.
Company: Epic Games
Where to buy: Epic Games
Requirements: Mac with OS X v10.12.6, 2.4GHz dual-core Intel processor, Intel HD 4000 GPU or above
Price: free - with in-app purchases
One of the biggest games of 2017 has undoubtedly been PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (aka PUBG), which drops you into a 'battle royale' scenario where 100 players compete to survive on a remote island. Unfortunately, PUBG isn't currently available on the Mac, but there is a Mac version of Fortnite, which is perhaps the closest rival to PUBG at the moment.
Fortnite actually started out as something completely different - an 'action building game' that had more of a PvE monster-shooting emphasis. This (temporarily) paid-for version of the game costs £34.99 and is now referred to as Fortnite's 'Save The World' mode. The pitch is straightforward enough, dropping you into a world - with rather more cartoony graphics than the gritty realism of PUBG - that has been over-run by zombie-like creatures known as 'husks'. You can choose a variety of character classes and weapons as you fight the husks, but the game also puts a lot of emphasis on crafting and building, allowing you to build your own bases and weapons that will give you an edge in battle.
But, after the success of PUBG, the developers of Fortnite released a free 'Battle Royale' mode for the game that closely follows the fight-to-the-death format of PUBG. The Battle Royale mode now acts as a kind of free introduction to the game, with the original Save The World mode being sold as an optional add-on. It's an odd way to develop a game, but it does mean that Mac gamers can get in on some free Battle Royale action along with their PC gaming buddies - and without having to spend the £26.99 required to buy PUBG.
Grand Theft Auto Trilogy
Company: Rockstar Games
Where to buy: Mac App Store
Requirements: Mac OS X 10.5.8, Intel Core 2 Duo processor, graphics card with 256MB VRAM
Price: £7.99 each
After years of waiting, three GTA games have arrived on the Mac in one go - GTA III, GTA Vice City and GTA San Andreas. And they are all seriously politically incorrect: you steal cars, drive like crazy, and slap people around in order to take control of whichever city the game happens to be set in.
In many ways it's those cities that are the real stars, as they provide you with huge, sprawling playgrounds where you can explore and do pretty much whatever you want. The boxed trilogy costs £35, but you can pick up each game individually for £10.49 on the Mac App Store.
Buy the Grand Theft Auto trilogy now: GTA III | GTA Vice City | GTA San Andreas. Sadly, Grand Theft Auto 4 and Grand Theft Auto 5 have yet to launch on the Mac, but we round up the rumours of a GTAV for Mac launch here.
Hotline Miami is unlike anything you've ever seen before. A top-down, twitch-based, ultraviolent synth-infused twisted indie trip of weirdness. The barebones story has you playing some kind of hitman as strange animal-mask wearing men call your phone and give you "cleaning" jobs. Mayhem and copious slaughter ensues.
Expect to die. A lot. Hotline's snap-reflexes gameplay and instant lethality takes some getting used to. Everyone - including you - can die in one hit from a weapon making combat intense and fast-paced. Every death resets you to the beginning of a level (or major section) but no mission lasts that long so it never feels tedious. More importantly the game is never unfair; every death is your own fault and there is always a way forward.
At the beginning you are likely to die repeatedly to the first few guards. But soon enough you will smoothly be working your way through missions like a modern-day terminator, meting out justice (or just your job) with knives, guns, pipes, doors and even your own fists. Each mission is scored based on kill variety and creativity, although this ultimately has no impact on gameplay.
You can also optionally wear a variety of masks to make each mission easier or harder for yourself. One mask might make your punches one-hit kills or start you out with a gun. Others will make it harder to see or prevent you from picking up any weapons.
The excellent electronic score compliments the gameplay perfectly and is good enough to put in iTunes for other listening. Don't miss this crazy ride.
Read our colleagues' full review of Hotline Miami for the PC
Lego Marvel's Avengers
Company: Feral Interactive
Where to buy: Steam | Mac App Store
Requirements: Mac with OS X v10.10.5, 2.0GHz dual-core Intel processor, 256MB video memory
Price: £24.99 (on Steam), £29.99 (on Mac App Store)
It's a little late arriving on the Mac, but the Lego formula still lets you have fun with many of Marvel's mightiest heroes.
The Lego format will be familiar by now, with a team-up system that puts you in control of two characters on each level of the game, If you're playing solo you can simply switch between characters as required, or two people can play together and control one character each. The trick, though, is to learn how to use the different powers and skills of each character so that they can work together in order to solve puzzles and complete each stage of the game.
That format works well here, as it allows you to have fun with a wide range of Marvel characters and their different powers. You start with Hawkeye and Black Widow in the opening scenes of the second Avengers film (Age Of Ultron), with Hawkeye tackling the bad guys while Widow uses her super-spy skills to penetrate their security systems. And, of course, other characters get to do their thing, with Captain America bouncing his shield around, Thor hurling his hammer, and Hulk stomping everything in sight.
The game focuses on Age Of Ultron, so it includes all the new characters that were introduced in that film. However, it also manages to chuck in elements from a number of other films, so you still get to meet Loki and Phil Coulson from the first Avengers film, and there's an assortment of guest appearances from other Marvel films to keep the fans happy.
Company: Feral Interactive
Where to buy: Steam | Mac App Store
Requirements: Mac with OS X v10.10, 1.8GHz dual-core Intel processor, discrete graphics card with 512MB VRAM
Price: £24.99 (on Steam), £25.99 (on Mac App Store)
To be honest, I wasn't holding out much hope for this latest addition to the Lego games series. I hated the film, and the running-jumping-puzzle-solving format of this seemingly endless series has been wearing a bit thin in recent games. But, somewhat unexpectedly, The Force Awakens turns out to be a return to form for the Lego franchise.
In fact, one of the things we liked was that the game actually steps back in time and begins with the battle on Endor, from Return Of The Jedi in the original Star Wars trilogy. This lets you jump straight into the action with Han Solo, Princess Leia and Chewbacca, rather than having to wait ages for them to be introduced in The Force Awakens.
The basic format does remain the same, allowing you to switch between multiple characters in order to defeat your enemies and solve puzzles that allow you to progress on to the next level. However, there are some new features that liven things up this time around. The action sequences now allow you to duck and take cover during shoot-outs, and to quickly pop your head up in order to take out your targets. That makes the combat seem a lot more exciting than simply mashing the Fire button as you tended to do in previous games. Even better is the fact that you get to fly the Millennium Falcon, adding some exciting dogfight action to the standard running-and-jumping capers.
Throw in plenty of visual gags - Ewoks with chainsaws, and Vader clone Kylo Ren having trouble firing up his lightsaber - and we reckon that Lego have done a better job of bringing Star Wars back to life than JJ Abrams himself.
Mafia II: The Director's Cut
Set in America during the 1940s and 1950s, Mafia II casts you in the role of Vito Scaletta, a small-time crook who rises through the ranks to become head of a Mafia family. In order to prove that you've got what it takes you need to demonstrate skill as a strong-arm enforcer, get-away driver and marksman, which means that the game combines hand-to-hand combat, driving skills and action-packed shootouts.
The game has an atmospheric soundtrack of original period music, and this Director's Cut is good value for money as it includes both the original game and the three expansion packs that followed it. The action's a bit grisly, though, so it's not suitable for younger players.
Max Payne 3
The main innovation of the original Max Payne was its 'bullet time' feature, which slows down the action and allows you pick off your targets in slow-motion. Max also picked up another move along the way, called shootdodge, which allows you to leap through the air in slow-motion in order to avoid enemy fire - while, of course, still firing off your own guns at the same time.
This sequel adds a number of new multiplayer modes that add to the fun, and while the graphic violence of Max Payne 3 won't be to everyone's taste, the game is stylishly presented and will definitely appeal to Tarantino admirers and fans of TV programs like The Sopranos.
Middle Earth: Shadow Of Mordor (GOTY Edition)
Shadow Of Mordor is one of the biggest games released for the Mac in quite a while - and in more ways than one. The game itself is a humungous 52GB download, and it requires a pretty powerful Mac running Yosemite 10.10.3 before you can even launch the game.
But if your Mac is up to it then Shadow Of Mordor is a great action game that will certainly appeal to Lord Of The Rings fans, as well as people who enjoy the hand-to-hand combat of games like Assassin's Creed or Batman: Arkham City.
You play as Talion, a ranger who was recently killed by an Uruk (a kind of mega-orc) called Black Hand. But, like all good superheroes, you manage to come back from the dead after being revived by a mysterious spirit known as The Wraith. Armed with your bow, sword and some spooky new Wraith powers you set off in search of Black Hand and your revenge. The storyline is straightforward enough, but the combat system works really well, with a variety of bow and sword skills that you can master, all rendered with some really impressive 3D graphics and animation.
As always, you can gain experience and skill by killing enemies and completing missions. But in this game your enemies can gain experience too, thanks to the 'Nemesis' system that promotes Uruk captains who manage to defeat you in combat. These captains can remember past encounters and gain special abilities of their own, which helps to make the combat seem more personal as you prepare for a rematch with the Uruk who kicked your butt last time around.
Rise of the Tomb Raider
Where to buy: Mac App Store
Requirements: Mac with OS X 10.13.4, 2.3GHz Core i5, 1.5GB video memory
The recent Tomb Raider film didn't exactly set the box office alight, but the video game series just seems to go from strength to strength. It's now 20 years since Lara Croft first appeared on our computer screens, and this Mac version of Rise Of The Tomb Raider - originally launched on PC back in 2016 - is a return to the game's roots, as we join a younger Lara on one of her first great adventures.
Following the death of her father, Lara sets off in search of the lost city of Kitezh where she hopes to discover the secret of immortality. It's a fairly routine quest story, but it's told with flair and style - and some spectacular 3D graphics - as Lara travels from the icy wastes of Siberia to the desert ruins of Syria.
The main storyline gets a bit more interesting when Lara comes into conflict with a secret organization called Trinity, and the game knows when to play to its strengths too, throwing in a number of tombs and dungeons for no other reason than to pack them full of hidden treasure and challenging puzzles.
Lara also gets to develop her skills in different areas - hunting, brawling and survival - allowing you to choose your own balance between combat and stealth as you work your way towards your ultimate goal.
In addition to the main game, this anniversary edition also includes a stack of DLC that was released for the PC version in the last couple of years, so there's enough action and adventure to keep you engrossed for hours on end. However, the game is very picky about its system requirements, so be sure to check out the requirements listed on Steam or the App Store before buying.
Shadwen isn't a well known-game at all, either on the PC or Mac, possibly because its rather thin story isn't as engaging as it could have been. However, it does bring some new ideas to the stealth-em-up genre that provide some interesting challenges.
You take on the role of the title character, Shadwen, a sneaky assassin on a quest to kill the local king (for reasons that are never explained very well). This means working your way through the streets of a typically medieval fantasy kingdom, and then penetrating the defences of the King's castle. But where other stealth games might allow you to choose between a full frontal assault or a more stealthy approach, Shadwen really puts its entire emphasis on the use of stealth.
There are many situations where being discovered effectively means 'game over', as you'll be killed by the guards and sent back to try again. And making things even more complicated is your companion, Lily, a young orphan that Shadwen finds on the streets and who then follows you on your quest. Even if you do have the chance to sneak up on a guard and do your ninja assassin thing, you risk traumatising poor Lily if she witnesses your crimes. This means that much of the time you have to find more indirect methods of disposing of your enemies, using your grappling rope to swing from the rooftops, or to drop objects on to unsuspecting guards. You also have the ability to create traps and decoys that can do your dirty work for you, and there's a fun replay feature that lets you turn back time when you get caught so that you can try and figure out an alternative approach to a particular situation.
Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition
Company: Feral Interactive
Where to buy: Mac App Store | Steam
Requirements: Mac with OS X v10.10.5, 2.0GHz Intel dual-core processor, discrete graphics card with 1GB VRAM
Price: £22.99 (Mac App Store), £19.99 (Steam)
The games scene on the Mac has picked up a lot in the last few years, but one area where the Mac still seems to miss out is the category of 'open world' games. Very few of the genre-defining Grand Theft Auto titles have made it on to the Mac, so the - completely unheralded - arrival of Sleeping Dogs will be a real treat for gamers who want to stir up some gangland mayhem on their Mac.
Although it initially seems like a bit of a GTA clone, Sleeping Dogs manages to tell an engrossing story that gives it a character all its own. Set in a realistic depiction of modern-day Hong Kong, Sleeping Dogs casts you as Wei Shen, an undercover cop going up against a triad gang known as The Sun On Yee. Like the GTA games, Sleeping Dogs gives you the freedom to explore the city at will, getting involved in car chases, shoot-outs, and some really brutal and bloody martial arts mayhem - which deservedly earns the game an 18+ rating.
You'll come across all sorts of missions and tasks as you delve deeper into the city's underworld, and one intriguing aspect of the game is that these missions allow you to gain different types of experience. Cop XP points are earned by being a good guy and helping out civilians (or at least, not killing them too often), while violent combat racks up Triad XP that improves your underworld reputation.
This means that you constantly have to tread a fine line between good and evil as you progress through the game, and adds a more thoughtful roleplaying element to the story that unfolds within the game.
Spec Ops: The Line
Spec Ops: The Line is a wholly unique third-person shooter. It differentiates itself in a number of ways. First: the setting. War-torn Dubai makes an impressive backdrop to the action and story. Don't think a desert city can look good? Think again. The developers have squeezed an amazing amount of colour and contrast into the game. Being on the Unreal Engine 3 doesn't hurt either. This game looks great.
But that isn't why you should play the game. The second unique factor is the story. You are in the Middle East, so you'll be shooting generic middle-eastern enemies, right? Wrong. You will, in fact, be shooting American soldiers gone rogue. Very few games delve into dealing with America in this way and this makes it extra-interesting.
The action in the game is solid. Cover-based shooting will take up a lot of your time, but tense close quarters combat and melee takedowns will keep your pulse pounding. The best part of this game and the major reason to experience it are the choices you are given as you play. Most games try to make you feel good for being a hero. This game tries to make you feel bad - and succeeds at making you feel the consequences of your actions.
Multiplayer is a bust, which no one plays, but you can hop on the short but incredibly fun co-operative missions with a friend. These can be replayed on harder difficulties as well.
The recent fad for retro games has thrown up plenty of old-fashioned arcade and platform games, but Strafe takes a different path back to the future and harks back to the early days of the FPS genre and pioneering games like ID Software's Quake and Doom.
In some ways, Strafe is a little bit too faithful to those old shoot-em-up games, as its blocky, pixellated graphics now seem quite crude, rather than cute, and a little bit of eye-candy might help the game to appeal to a less hardcore audience. And when I mention 'eye-candy', I'm not referring to the cleavage of the woman who guides you through the game's rather cheesy tutorial - which is probably meant to be a retro joke, but just comes across as a bit naff.
Still, Strafe does do a good job of capturing the feel of those early shoot-em-ups, casting you in the role of a space scavenger who beams on to a wrecked ship in order to search for old equipment that you can salvage and sell. Unfortunately, the ship has been over-run by various space-nasties, so you're thrown straight into the action, running and jumping along long, winding corridors and simply blasting the hell out of everything in sight.
Strafe is also a 'roguelike' game, which means that there's no Save Game option to help you out if you get killed. There's a limited supply of health boosts and weapon upgrades that you can pick up as you go along, but you'll still have to be prepared to die on a fairly regular basis to get anywhere.
So Strafe isn't a game for casual players, but it has enough of that old-school charm to appeal to hardened FPS fans who want to relive the gory, glory days of their misspent youth.
Company: Feral Interactive
Where to buy: Mac App Store, on sale for £4.49 from Origin at time of writing
Requirements: OS X 10.9.1 Mavericks or later; 4GB RAM; 512MB VRAM; 15GB available HD space
Tomb Raider has been around on the Mac for a while, but the latest game reboots the series in spectacular fashion. Taking control of a young Lara Croft on her first adventure is one of the most unique and thrilling 3rd-person experiences you will have in gaming. Whether it's learning to survive the harsh reality of the island, fighting for her life or exploring for lost treasures, Lara is a joy to control. Top-notch animations and voice acting bring the story to life as you solve the secrets of the island.
Unlike in previous games, the puzzles are directly related to progressing in the story rather than as if they had been put there by an ancient civilization to confound or kill explorers. None of these will tax your brain, but they feel organic and sensible.
The excellent music and gorgeous graphics don't hurt either. The island the game is set on will continue to dazzle you from start to finish. Rain, snow, storms and various visual effects make this one of the best-looking games on Mac ever. Feral Interactive has done a great job with the port and it runs well on a range of hardware.
The single-player story will take you around 20 hours to complete and if you want more there is also a multiplayer component to test your acrobatics and bow skills against other players. Tomb Raider could easily be the action-adventure game of the year and should not be missed by fans of the genre.
Read our full Tomb Raider for Mac review
There may also be a new Tom Clancy title headed to Mac, namely Ghost Recon Wildlands. We've taken a look at the Mac release rumours and the history of Tom Clancy Mac releases here: Ghost Recon Wildlands for Mac release date rumours.
Also, if you're into action games and also own a PS4, we'd recommend taking a look at Horizon Zero Dawn: an open-world action game in a world overrun by robot dinosaurs. What's not to like? Take a look at our sister site Tech Advisor's Horizon Zero Dawn review for more.
Ultra Space Battle Brawl
Who needs coffee when you can start the day with a quick session of Ultra Space Battle Brawl (or USBB, as the developers like to call it)? Originally developed for the Nintendo Switch, USBB is a candy-coloured sugar rush of ‘80s arcade action, complete with a soundtrack of Indonesian ‘funkot’ music – which sounds a bit like having two competing synthesizer keyboards jammed in each ear as they bombard your brain cells with 120bpm techno music.
The developers at Toge Productions describe USBB as Street Fighter Meets Pong, but on steroids. In single-player mode, USBB puts your character and a computer-controlled opponent on opposite sides of the screen, and behind each of you there’s a wall of health crystals that keep you alive. Your high-speed task is to intercept the ball and protect your own health crystals, while also trying to bounce the ball past your opponent in order to destroy their crystals and progress to the next round.
There’s a choice of different characters that you can play, each with their own ‘ultra’ power that can come in handy at crucial moments, such as Djarwani’s ‘power smash’, or Robin who can split herself into twin ‘doppelgangers’ to cover twice as much screen space.
There are also several multiplayer modes for playing with up to three friends (at home, not online). However, the developers don’t seem to have given much thought to adapting the game’s original console controls for Macs or PCs. The speed of the game means that using a keyboard and is almost impossible, so you’ll need a brace of USB game controllers in order to enjoy the multiplayer options.
World of Tanks Blitz
World Of Tanks has been around on various platforms since 2010, but there's never been a proper Mac version available (although it is possible for braver gamers to get the Windows version running on a Mac by using the CrossOver software from Codeweavers).
However, this mobile version called World Of Tank Blitz was released for iOS and Android in 2014 and has recently been converted for the Mac, so we can finally join in with the tank-busting fun as well.
The game itself is really quite simple. A brief tutorial lets you choose your first tank from a selection used by countries such as Britain, the US, Germany and Russia, and then guides you through the basics of steering your tank and firing weapons. You're then thrown into an online battle in which two teams of seven players compete to blow each other up first.
It's as simple and addictive as that, with games played on a variety of levels that range from the streets of Europe to rocky deserts and US industrial zones. Defeating enemies earns you experience points and bags of gold, which you can use to upgrade your tank and research new types of armour and weaponry. And, of course, as it's a free-to-play game, you also have the option of coughing up hard cash to pay for upgrades if you want. The combat can seem a bit simple and repetitive after a while, and Blitz definitely works best on mobile devices where you can dip in and out whenever you feel like it, but it's certainly addictive and it's good news that I can finally join in with my PC friends who have been bugging me about the game for ages.