Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Another Review of CrossOver Games for Mac have reviewed the Mac version of CrossOver Games (for Intel Macs only), and are very upbeat about it! In particular, they found that older games (2005 and earlier) using DirectX 8 are widely compatible, and many DirectX 9 games also run quite well. They also found that many older Win95/98 games that have issues with XP or Vista, may actually run better in CrossOver Games! It's largely with newer games and custom engines that more significant issues creep in.

As I mentioned before, many games aren't yet showing in the compatibility lists at the CrossOver Games site, but that doesn't mean they won't run. This review confirms that, and although CrossOver Games is still in its infancy it seems to be quite capable. With further development this could be turn out to be a real winner, and it doesn't even require a copy of Windows - just the purchase of CrossOver Games itself!

Although a purchase is required, this is still open source software based on Wine, covered by the GNU license, and still has plenty of development to go. It's up to the individual to decide whether they're prepared to pay for open source, and if so, whether this is the right choice for their gaming at this time. There is a free trial period, so you can at least give it a good evaluation. And bear in mind that financial support for open source developers does have benefits as it allows them to put more effort into the product (and donation based support is notoriously unreliable...)

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

iMac Range updated with new graphics!

Apple have announced updates to the iMac range. There are a variety of changes, including a faster processor for the top 24" model, but the most interesting change from a gamer's point of view is the option of an NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GS graphics processor with 512MB of GDDR3 memory to improve the graphics performance over the standard ATI Radeon HD 2600 PRO with 256MB memory. The GeForce 8800 GS is only available in the 24" models, and no benchmarks are yet available, but it's likely that this will be a significant and welcome improvement over the Radeon HD 2600 PRO for gaming!

The top end processor in the new 24" iMac is now a 3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, but according to Electronista this is not a new CPU, but an overclocked version of an existing CPU, so there is likely to be a further revision sometime in the future once Intel release their Centrino 2 technology later in the year.

I have to say that despite the disappointing performance of the Radeon 2600 Pro in the original aluminium iMac (which for gamers was effectively a downgrading from the previous white iMacs with the GeForce 7600 GT 256MB), I'm a little surprised that Apple have moved back to a GeForce option less than 9 months after the release of the aluminium iMac in August 2007 - I didn't expect this for maybe a year or more. Not only surprised, but encouraged that Apple may actually be listening to gamers. Well maybe that's a little too optimistic, but this is still a welcome upgrade, whatever Apple's motivation... Now I only need to win the lottery ;-)

Saturday, 19 April 2008

CrossOver Games Reviewed

Although a reader of my previous post had some success with CrossOver Games and its handling of the old Tomb Raider III demo, it appears that it has some way to go yet before it can be taken seriously. The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) has published a review of CrossOver Games, and although they had some success, it was limited and somewhat buggy. So be sure to check the CrossOver Games Game Compatibility page for the games you want to run, and take some time with the demo version to satisfy yourself that it is right for you! (At the time of writing, Tomb Raider II is now on the compatibility list - as the PC TRII is a lot easier to find in stores than the Mac game, then I suppose that's a good sign ;-)

However, as CrossOver Games is a new product I expect that it will see considerable improvement in the months to come, but I doubt it will ever rival Boot Camp. It's the old story - you gets what you pays for! Best is to wait for a Mac version of your favourite game (on the off-chance it might appear...); next is to play the Windows version in whatever way you find works for you; or do what I did and move to the far cheaper high definition consoles.

For the absolute game fanatic who demands the best a Mac isn't an option anyway, and for everyone else an Xbox 360 and/or a PlayStation 3 will give a very satisfying experience at a budget price, only rivalled by a carefully specced Mac Pro at a much higher cost, or a custom built PC for maybe a little less than the Mac Pro. I may be biased here as I have a long familiarity with console gaming, but the modern Tomb Raiders (since Legend) are perfectly suited to the PlayStation controller, and only slightly less suited to the X360 controller (I found the 360 left stick/D-pad a little awkward at first, but that could be due to my 8 years or so with PlayStation). The traditional TR keyboard controls are nice but less relevant with the far more complex modern games which demand the mouse as part of the controls - a good gamepad would probably be a better option these days with Mac gaming.