Getting your frag on with a Mac has never been easy. The most popular action shooters, like most of the Quake games and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare have been ported, but as you move away from first-person shooters and mega-hits it becomes harder to find good titles.
There are, however, some games worth your time. In this article we’ll take a look at ten action games that every Mac gamer will want to play. Some are hits, some are obscure indie titles and some are games that you’ve probably heard of, but forgot to play.
Batman: Arkham Asylum
No one expected this game to be good. It’s a superhero franchise game, and most such titles usually do little more than cash in on the main character’s pre-existing fame. It’s also a third-person brawler – a genre that faded quickly as first person shooters became popular.
Yet, in spite of these potential issues, Batman: Arkham Asylum won numerous game of the year awards. Its smooth combat, excellent voice acting and varied gameplay makes it a title that is engaging from the first moment to the last boss fight. There’s even an experience system that provides access to new moves and abilities.
The Binding of Issac
This game is the latest effort of Team Meat, the two-man crew responsible for Super Meat Boy. You don’t have to play The Binding of Issac long to see the shared lineage. Both games have a cartoonish-yet-disturbing graphical style and focus on fast-paced gameplay that will tax your reaction times.
Don’t mistake this as a re-make of Super Meat Boy, however. This is instead a rogue-like, which means that you’ll be crawling numerous dungeons, fighting difficult enemies and dealing with perma-death. It’s a game designed for the hardcore, but it’s also a game that’s instantly pleasing. You can jump in to this title, enjoy 20 minutes of adrenaline and then go about your business.
At first glance, Borderlands looks like a straight shooter. Play it for fifteen minutes, however, and you’ll start to realize it’s more of a mix of Diablo and Quake than a straight frag-fest.
What do I mean like that? Well, you pick a class, each of which has slightly different abilities. You’ll also gain access to randomly generated loot – heisting a nice new gun is half the point of the game. Finally, fights are longer than your typical modern shooter.
Borderlands is also notable because of its art style. It borrows heavily from cartoons and comic books. There are other games which do this, of course, but the art style is particularly well executed in this title.
Borderlands: Game of the Year edition (which includes some DLC content) is available for $29.99 on Amazon and the Mac App Store.
Counter Strike: Source
What can I say about Counter-Strike? You’ve probably heard of it already and you very well may have played it on PC years ago.
It’s not just a PC title anymore, however. Ever since it made the leap to the Source engine it has been available for Mac. The gameplay is the same fast-paced frag-fest that put the mod on the map over a decade ago. Not everyone will enjoy it, but those with a thirst for hardcore shooter action will.
The shump (shoot-em-up) genre has been on life support for over a decade now, but there are occasional signs of life. Jamestown is the most recent, and it’s excellent ode to older arcade games like Gradius and Raiden.
Jamestown places you in the role of a fugitive who has made his way to Mars in the late 1600′s to try and escape the long arm of the law. Silly though it may sound, it provides the perfect excuse for the game’s creative graphics.
There’s nothing innovative about the gameplay mechanics, but the controls are tight and the level design excellent. Even beginners can cut their teeth on the lowest difficulty settings, but the hardest modes should provide a challenge for everyone. An enjoyable local co-op mode is available, though you’ll need some additional Mac compatible controllers to play it.
Star Wars: Jedi Knight Gold Pack
It’s hard to keep track of all the games based off the Star Wars franchise, but the truly great ones are few in number. One stand-out is the Jedi Knight series, which was continued by Jedi Academy and Jedi Outcast (the original game unfortunately is not available for Mac).
Neither game excels in any particular area but both provide an excellent blend of action, story and Star Wars goodness. They’re a complete package, offering awesome lightsaber play and fun single-player campaigns.
This is an older title, so don’t expect amazing graphics. You can buy the Gold Pack on Amazon for just $10. Some users have reported problems with OS X Lion, however. Versions compatible with Lion are available on the Mac App Store.
Left 4 Dead / Left 4 Dead 2
If you want a fun co-op multiplayer action game, look no further. Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 represent a definitive experience in this genre.
Both games pit a cast of survivors against the zombie apocalypse in a host of carefully tailored missions. Each mission lasts about thirty minutes to an hour depending on the pace of the players and provides its own mini-story with unique objectives.
Though there are some enhancements in Left 4 Dead 2, such as new zombie opponents, both titles are excellent and anyone who enjoys one game should pick up the other. But don’t forget that this title focuses on co-op. Players looking for a single-player campaign should skip this one.
Realm Of The Mad God
This relatively new game blends old-school shoot-em-up gameplay and 8-bit graphics with MMORPG mechanics and a rogue-like attitude. It’s an odd combo that produces a difficult but enjoyable game. You’ll probably have more fun here than in any other free-to-play MMO.
Loading up the game will quickly dump you into the role of a stereotypical wizard (other classes can be unlocked). There’s not much story – your goal is simply to kill, loot, pillage and advance. While death is permanent, your fame is cumulative, allowing for advancement over time.
Realm of the Mad God is free to play on Steam or on the developer’s website. It’s a multi-player game, so you can create adventuring parties with friends to fight of the game’s wide variety of monsters.
Tomb Raider: Anniversary
You forgot about this one, right? I don’t blame you. Tomb Raider’s early success was squandered on increasingly lame sequels that forced most gamers to write the series off entirely. This excellent addition to the franchise was largely ignored as a result.
In response, Tomb Raider: Anniversary decides to go back to the game’s roots. The levels are sometimes copied, sometimes inspired from the original game. This shifts the focus back to an action/platform puzzle mix rather than the gunplay focused gameplay found in Tomb Raider: Legend.
That might sound lame, but remember, Tomb Raider arrived over 15 years ago. Even if you did play the original you probably don’t remember it well – and the levels have been renovated to accommodate new gameplay mechanics and better graphics.
The titles here are a mix of action genres, from adventure-action (Tomb Raider) to old-school shoot-em-ups (Jamestown). Yet they all share a common bond. They’re fun, easy to understand and difficult to master.
Do you have a favorite action games for Mac that were missed here? Let us know in the comments!