It was an anniversary week with the iPhone celebrating its seventh birthday and we've got the Mac closing in on its 30th later this month. Yes, January has been good for Apple fans. Unfortunately, we don't have any good news on the iWatch front for you just yet. Nevertheless, this week, like nearly every week, there was something cooking on the old news front. Let's see what's what.
The end of the year is a slow news zone typically, so we did our end of the year wrap ups. Want to know what the best games of the year were? Well, we got you covered. Whether it's the Mac or iOS, free or pay, we got you covered, plus a little bit of news on the side.
The years haven’t always been so kind to Rayman. After a series of popular games in the late '90s, Michel Ancel’s limbless hero spent the better part of a decade on Ubisoft's backburner, ceding the limelight to the publisher's other blockbuster franchises. Rayman Origins — originally released for consoles in 2011 — is finally available for Mac via Feral Interactive, however, and it's a spectacular return to form. In brief, Rayman Origins is one of the best side-scrolling platform games of the past several years.
The world of The Walking Dead is brutal and tragic, and not just because it's swarming with zombies. Half the survivors are remorseless bandits, and the other half are paranoid and distrustful because of the first half. Everything goes wrong, good people die in agonizing ways, and something horrific and sad waits around seemingly every corner. It's certainly no place for a child—so of course, that's the role Season Two of Telltale's acclaimed adventure series casts you into.
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.
Q-Games' PixelJunk series has always strived for simplicity in both its mechanics and monikers, but the title assigned to PixelJunk Shooter has long seemed a bit off. First released on PlayStation 3 in 2009, the methodical, puzzle-tinged adventure lacks the kind of frantic, intense edge you might expect based on its branding, but the freshly-ported Mac experience still quietly captivates with its smart challenges and offbeat presentation.
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.
Blending a borrowed approach from Mario Tennis with elements from Sega's own Virtua Tennis franchise, Sega Superstars Tennis is an entertaining bit of fan service that delivers on-the-court action plus a bevy of racquet-based mini-games with Sonic the Hedgehog and compatriots in tow. Recently ported to Mac by Feral Interactive more than five years after its debut on console systems, this colorful affair serves up simple and approachable tennis action, and is decent fun for fans of Sega's back catalog.