Wednesday, 7 March 2007

What to do when there's no Mac TR?

You could always go outside and do the gardening, but what about games? If you're reading this then you're probably a fan of Tomb Raider on the Mac, but as there's been no Mac TR release for over 3 years, and no Mac TR game is readily available any more, new or used, how do you get your action-adventure fix? Apart from TRLE custom levels of course... So here are some games that I like, some on console, and some on Mac (don't forget, console games must match your video format, NTSC or PAL, so it's risky buying in from overseas!) Links are to the Wikipedia pages...

American McGee's Alice (Mac, PC) - this is a similar game to Tomb Raider, but with Alice's Adventures in Wonderland as a theme. You play as Alice, but in a future where she's comatose after a fire that claimed her family and sent her insane. She's institutionalised in an asylum and has nightmares that Wonderland has turned really evil. The object of the game is to visit the Wonderland worlds, right the wrongs, and restore Alice's sanity. Note that it's her sanity, not her life, that you're playing for - you're actually playing in a world within Alice's mind, a world in her nightmares, and restoring her sanity will also mean she will rejoin the real world. Fail and she will be consigned to the asylum for life. Alice is a very dark game, more in line with the underlying dark theme of the book, and a good game with some very atmospheric music and graphics. Alice was released on Mac and although it is now difficult to find it may be possible to pick it up at places like Amazon.com. Interestingly, Aspyr have just released a Universal patch for Alice so it's now playable on Intel Macs - go to Aspyr Support and look for the Alice 1.1.2 patch (Universal).

Beyond Good & Evil (PS2, Xbox, GC, PC) - this game was never released on Mac, but should have been! Dating from 2003 it's a bit of a 'sleeper', and is now considered to be one of the most under-rated games of its type and one of the games most worthy of a sequel. Like Tomb Raider, it's a 3rd person action adventure with a female lead, but the setting is an alien world - Hillys - inhabited by humans, human hybrids, and weird and wonderful creatures. Lots of them! You play as Jade, a freelance photo-journalist, and your goal is to use your camera to expose a conspiracy and save your world! Of course ;) The game isn't totally serious, and there are MANY other characters you're able to interact with if you wish, with sometimes quite funny results. Jade also has a couple of helpers at various points in the game. In fact the whole BG&E world is busy, something we've not seen in any TR, and moving around the city can be an eye-opening experience. It does include some fighting but Jade's only weapons are a staff which has 'powers' to increase its effectiveness, a disk projector which can damage some items or trigger switches at a distance, and a cannon on her hovercraft. Controlling Jade is somewhat easier than Lara as some of her moves (like jumps and vaults) are automatic and only require the player to move Jade in the desired direction. It has an unusual save function - Jade carries a savegame memory disk and you save by inserting it into one of the many readers scattered around Hillys. This game, although possibly difficult to find now, sometimes turns up in the used game bins in game stores. It is also plentiful at Amazon. I picked up a cheap used PS2 copy in near new condition from my local EB Games recently and it was so much fun that I'll be keeping it for future replays!

Dreamfall: The Longest Journey (Xbox, PC) - I've not played this game, but it has been getting some good press and when I get an Xbox 360 it's on my 'wanted' list. It's the second in the series, the first was The Longest Journey on PC only. It's an adventure game with, yet again, a female lead (Zoƫ Castillo), and was released on PC and Xbox (Aspyr published the Xbox version last year). It's played in a sci-fi setting, and has an engrossing story and wonderful graphics. It does contain some action but the action doesn't take over the game which remains primarily an adventure, and an adventure with one of the best stories ever in a video game. The Xbox version of the game is apparently compatible with the Xbox 360, but do your own checking on this. Dreamfall: The Longest Journey Xbox version should be easy to find at the usual places, but the Xbox game may be less available in some PAL countries.

MediEvil/MediEvil2 (PS, PSP) - these are old PlayStation games (yes, PlayStation, not PS2). There were two episodes on PS, with a third release (MediEvil Resurrection, a remake of the original) on PSP only. MediEvil is a 3rd person action adventure game where you play as a skeleton. You read me right, a skeleton! Always VERY tongue in cheek, this is a game that definitely doesn't take itself too seriously. You play as Sir Daniel Fortesque, or at least his remains, in the fantasy country of Gallowmere. Sir Daniel wasn't a very successful knight but hopefully under your control he'll be a little more successful at ridding his world of evil this time. One of the more under-rated PlayStation games, MediEvil is a lot of fun and even the starting video is hilarious! Probably very difficult to find now outside Amazon, but worth looking for if you have a PS or PS2 and should be very cheap so what do you have to lose!

Myst IV Revelation (Mac/PC hybrid, Xbox) - a pure adventure game, as are all the Myst games, and as for all the Myst games (except Uru) it's available for Mac. Myst is a puzzle game where you don't fight and can't die (it's fun to be in a world where it's completely safe) and Myst IV has the best environment and gameplay of all the Mysts! This has been achieved with a combination of pre-rendered backgrounds, realtime 3D foreground objects, and 360 degree node-based play. Which means that you 'point and click' to move from node to node, and have full 360 degree vision at every node, with a 'living' world around you, including, where appropriate, insects, birds, animals, breezes, water, trees, and even leaves falling. You are also able to interact with many items in the environment, with the appropriate reactions and audio feedback. For example there are some places where you can stick a finger in a tub of water, which results in ripples and a splashing sound. Or tap a saucepan hanging in the kitchen, which gives an appropriate hollow metal sound and starts the pan swinging. And many more, so don't be afraid to touch the environment! These are not gameplay elements, just diversions, but give the player a sense of really being there! You'll often come across creatures in the environment, many in realtime 3D. One of the creatures you come across (the Mangree in Haven) is one of the cutest I've ever seen in a video game, resembling a large Lemur but with bigger ears, and which sometimes comes up to you to have a look. Myst IV draws you into its world like no other Myst game, and few games at all for that matter, and is one of my all time favourites, but as with all the Myst games the puzzles can sometimes be almost incomprehensible so it's good to keep a walkthrough handy! If you play this be prepared to spend more time just looking around than you would have thought possible, it can be that immersive :)

Myst 10th Anniversary DVD Edition (Mac/PC hybrid) - if you like Myst IV Revelation then you may want to try the earlier games. If so then try to get hold of the Myst 10th Anniversary Edition with the first 3 games (Myst, Riven, Myst III Exile) on a single DVD each, as opposed to the original multiple CD sets for Riven and Myst III. None of them run in OS X (even Myst III, which is supposedly compatible, doesn't run properly in Panther due to audio problems), but in my experience they all ran fine in Panther Classic mode. This release includes the Myst Masterpiece Edition, which is the original Myst with upgraded graphics. Of course the puzzles you come across in the first 3 Mysts aren't easy, especially in Riven, so play with a walkthrough at hand (there are plenty of good walkthroughs on the web still). Myst Masterpiece and Riven don't have full 360 degree views, but you will occasionally see life in the environment around you. Myst III does have 360 degree views, with only a little more activity in the environment, but nothing like Revelation. Myst 10th Anniversary is probably still available at Amazon.

Tomb Raider Legend (PS2 etc. etc. but not Mac, yet...) - not really what I was intending to include. Check my Legend page for more information, but this game is perfectly suited to the PlayStation 2 controller, and looks remarkably good for a PS2 game, even on an old CRT TV that supports 60Hz mode (PAL only?) I've not tried it on Xbox 360, but it looks even better and should play just as well. Considering that a new PS2 can be picked up now for less than half the cost of a Wii, less even than an iPod Nano, and that the next TR, Anniversary, will also be released for PS2, then this is something to seriously consider if the Mac version doesn't appear soon!

1 comment:

Greg said...

Nice summeries Kerrie, and an interesting read. I have 2 Loves (at least as far as this goes...): Macintosh and TR. In a perfect (or halfways decent) world the 2 would be united in monogomy. In R/L however, 2 mistresses is better then none.

TR is the Only game I've played for a decade and plan to (must due to time limits, commitments etc,)keep it that way. On Mac or PS2 no longer matters to me. I sure won't replay Legend on Mac even if it came out.

Thanks for Everything Kerrie, and keep up the Great Work!

FireFox 2.0.0.3 now! ;)