CrossOver Games 7.02 review

PC users often dismiss the Mac with the same old facile mantra; it doesn’t do games. True, we tend to get games later and second-hand. But we get the best games – the tried and tested, in demand games. Then, there’s the booming genre of MMPORGs, like City of Heroes and EVE online.

But if you’re still hankering for the PC gaming experience on your Mac, and your favourite game isn’t available, there’s always CrossOver Games. It’s effectively an emulation platform implementing a subset of Windows XP capability on your Mac. Here’s the unique selling point that makes it more tempting for gamers than VMware or Parallels: you don’t need to buy Windows to run it. CrossOver Games is built on Wine – an open-source Windows emulator that implements a translation layer between OS X and your hardware.

So far, so technical – but does it work? We’ve tested Wine in the past, and found it difficult to get any games running. Codeweavers, the developer behind CrossOver Games, claims to have level 70 World of Warcraft players among their customers, which is testimony to the long-term reliability of the tool. We were able to download and install Steam, the PC game delivery platform without any problems. Another hefty download later and we were playing Half Life 2. On a Mac.

Installing games isn’t quite the click and play experience you might have on a PC. The Wine-based platform creates ‘Bottles’ – individual emulation packages from the PC code. The installer runs under emulation too, and can be clunky and slow.

OUR VERDICT

Around 170 games have been reported to run on the platform, though not all have been tested and verified by Codeweavers. So – is it worth it? At just £25.99 – about the same price as a new game – we’d say yes. However, make sure your Mac’s up to the task. Emulation, rather than virtualisation, is CPU intensive, so you may be disappointed with the results on lower end machines.

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