Not too long ago, the sight of games like Fieldrunners or Angry Birds on iOS was enough to make our jaws drop; only a few years later, some of the most beloved hits of the comparatively recent desktop and console gaming generations are making their way to Apple's touchscreen devices. The latest is BioShock, and you'll reportedly be able to play the acclaimed 2007 dystopian first-person shooter on your iPad sometime later this year.
Known simply as XCOM when it was first unveiled in 2010, The Bureau: XCOM Declassified is a strange creature. Now on Mac (following a late summer launch on other platforms), the 1960s-set adventure — loosely related to the more strategic XCOM: Enemy Unknown — is at once an attempt to do something new and interesting with the franchise and a bid to capture mainstream success with a focus on action. It doesn't quite succeed at either of these, but it tries hard, and patient players will find that battling an alien invasion during the height of the Cold War can be immensely fun. It just takes a while to get to that point.
Spec Ops: The Line thrives on colorful, deliberate level design; its self-conscious take on the shooter genre (by way of Apocalypse Now), and its reversal of traditional player incentives. Originally released in June 2012 on other platforms, Spec Ops' recent release on Mac captures every concept from the original for better and worse. It's as well-built a package as any modern AAA shooter — crisp, quick, and brutal — albeit saddled with some stop-and-pop repetition and decrepit multiplayer modes. However, for all the game does well, the Mac port unfortunately limps along with sluggish and inconsistent performance.
Running a clandestine agency devoted to fighting diabolical alien invaders is tough, but as XCOM: Enemy Unknown taught us, it gets a lot easier if you can steal things out of the enemy's playbook. And when those things include extreme genetic modifications and hulking robot exoskeletons — two of the biggest features introduced by the Enemy Within expansion — the fight doesn't necessarily get easier, but it does get a lot more interesting.
When it came to Mac in August, BioShock Infinite represented a huge change for its venerable franchise. It switched up the combat, trading bizarre weapons for conventional guns and frenetic pacing; it gave players a constant sidekick, Elizabeth; and most strikingly, it moved the action from the undersea nightmare city of Rapture to the (deceptively) sunnier, airborne steampunk metropolis of Columbia. Burial at Sea — Episode One, Infinite's first story-driven add-on, represents a step back on a couple of those points, the biggest being that the setting is once again Rapture — although we get to see it as a gleaming objectivist utopia, before everything really goes crazy.
It’s been only six months since Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol brought its unique, tactical take on World War I air combat to iOS, and already we’ve got a sequel. Pushing the action forward to the Pacific during World War II, Ace Patrol: Pacific Skies pits American and Japanese aces against each other in missions that range from simple dogfighting to defending or destroying vital ships, bases, or other structures.
If you put much stock in Metacritic, Bioshock Infinite is the best (or at least best-reviewed) PC game of 2013 so far. Set in Columbia, a sprawling steampunk metropolis floating in the clouds, it's at once a beautiful achievement in world-building; a moving sci-fi story populated by memorable characters; a thinking man's ultraviolent shoot-'em-up; and an unflinchingly brutal critique of the myth and reality of America at the dawn of the 20th century. And this Thursday, five months after its release on other platforms, it arrives on Mac (presumably via Sky-Hook and with guns blazing).
Following the initial announcement this spring of its impending release, Aspyr revealed this week that well-received first-person shooter sequel BioShock Infinite will make its Mac debut on August 29. The vibrant adventure, which is the best-selling multiplatform release of 2013 thus far according to NPD, launched on PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 back in March. Pre-orders for the shooter are open now from Aspyr's own GameAgent service, though it will also be available via the Mac App Store and Steam.
Firaxis, the developer behind Civilization, has been busy on Apple platforms lately. The past few weeks brought us an excellent Mac port of XCOM: Enemy Unknown and the kid-friendly iOS strategy game Haunted Hollow, and now the company's rolled out Sid Meier's Ace Patrol, a free-to-play, turn-based tactics game set in the skies above World War I.
With its shiny trappings, familiar wasteland heroes, and cool top-down perspective on Pandora's desolate post-apocalyptic landscape, Borderlands Legends HD makes an impressive transition from a first-person shooter on other platforms to an iOS hybrid of real-time strategy and tower defense. The slick presentation is deceiving, however, since muddling through battle after battle is more often then not an unwieldy, unsatisfying experience.