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MacSoft will officially announce today that it will publish Unreal Tournament 3 for Mac in early 2008. Available on PC and PlayStation 3, the well-received game will run on Mac-native code. The developer, Epic Games, is porting its Unreal Engine 3 to work on Macs. UT3 continues the Epic-MacSoft relationship that has created Mac releases of nearly every Unreal game.
Mark Rein, vice president of Epic Games explains, “We’ve always done our games on the Macintosh. We’d like to see gaming get revived on the Mac platform. The only way to do it is to have some great games.”
The PC version of Unreal Tournament 3 lives up to its exciting franchise. In a shoehorned-on plot, gamers compete in kill-or-be-killed matches against AI-controlled bots, often with team-based objectives. After learning the basics against the machines, the game shines in online competition, pairing players against human rivals. Amidst the fury of explosions and team strategies, UT3 shows off high-end graphics we’re looking forward to seeing on the Mac.
Behind the game, the Unreal Engine 3 creates the experience. This code defines the rules of the game world, from the mundane (a character falls if stepping off a ledge) to the vast possibilities of visual and audio effects. Epic licenses this engine to other developers who would rather work on story and game creation instead of this level of detail. Development teams can redefine nearly everything, so Unreal Engine games can take unique styles; the 3D engine governs the possibilities of the games, not the creation.
Because the engine runs on multiple systems (PC, Xbox 360, PS3, and now Mac OS X) those developers can reach a bigger audience with little additional work. Peter Tamte, president of MacSoft parent company, Destineer, says, “The Unreal Engine running on the Macintosh platform is critical because more big budget games use the Unreal engine than any other engine right now.”
Mac gamers and publishers like Tamte can now browse long lists of PC and console titles built from Unreal Engine 3, fantasizing about Mac versions. Just a few of those recent blockbusters include creepy shooter BioShock (PC, Xbox 360); space role-playing game Mass Effect (Xbox 360); tactical shooter Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Vegas (PC, PS3, Xbox 360); and John Woo-action ballet Stranglehold (PC, PS3, Xbox 360). Epic has already mentioned Mac plans for broad-shouldered shooter Gears of War (PC, Xbox 360), but hasn’t elaborated on specifics.
Mac system requirements for Unreal Tournament 3 are still undetermined. With Epic’s native Mac code, the game could perform similarly to the PC version, using a beefy computer but paying players back with stunning graphics. The Mac-specific engine should give better results than the emulation technology some recent Mac games use. Those titles automatically buffer and translate Windows code for OS X and the Mac hardware, instead of being rewritten by programmers. The difference is sometimes like comparing a language translation between Babelfish and a human interpreter.
Even though the engine won’t rely on emulation, MacSoft thinks UT3 might still require an Intel computer. Al Schilling, general manager of MacSoft says, “There’s nothing in the code itself that would prevent it running Power PC. However, we’re not sure that there will be a suitable number of Power PC Macs with a video card capable of running the game. As we get closer to final code, we’ll be able to assess that to determine if we want to build a Universal app.”
Unreal Tournament 3 will be $54.99. The PC version of the game includes editing and creation tools for players to create their own maps and games. MacSoft has no comment at this time about releasing those tools with the Mac version.