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2010 was a watershed year for the Mac, which saw not only the release of Starcraft II day-and-date with the PC crowd, but more importantly, the arrival of Valve's Steam on the platform, bringing with it dozens of classic titles, not to mention a quality of service and delivery the Mac has long been calling out for.
NOTE: Recent Macs have been able to boot Windows, meaning users taking this option can choose from the games on our PC gift guide. Because of this, the Mac list below is dedicated to titles specifically made available for Apple computers during 2010; some are new, while others are simply new to the Mac and shouldn't be missed!
Genre: Sandbox Adventure
Ideal Player: Someone who likes the 80s as much as they like running down pedestrians.
What's It About? Forget those who vouch for San Andreas' scale or IV's cinematic ambitions, Vice City is the greatest Grand Theft Auto of them all, not for its gunplay or story, but for the completeness of the world in which it drops you. It's more 80s than the 80s ever were. You play a young man working his way up the criminal ladder, making a few friends, and killing a lot of enemies.
Bang For Your Buck: Like all other GTA games, Vice City has enough secrets and things to do in its sprawling metropolis to keep you busy long after the main storyline has drawn to a close.
Genre: Turn-based Strategy
Ideal Player: History buffs with a desire to see their social lives and marriages ruined.
What's It About? You take control of a civilization in its earliest days, as you guide your people throughout human history advancing their knowledge, exploring new lands and taking the sword to your neighbours.
Bang For Your Buck: Civilization IV came out five years ago, and people are still playing it. In many ways, this game is better than Civilization IV. Need me to paint you a picture?
Genre: First-person shooter
Ideal Player: Anyone that can appreciate the finer things in video game design.
What's It About? Despite being released on the PC all the way back in 2004, it's testament to just how good Half-Life 2 is that even six years on it stands as one of the best first-person shooters - and perhaps the most finely-crafted gaming universe - ever made.
Bang For Your Buck: It's really just a singleplayer experience, but I'm yet to meet anybody that could only play through it once.
Genre: Real-time Strategy
Ideal Player: Anyone who has ever had any contact with the first Starcraft.
What's It About? The sequel to a game first released in 1998, Starcraft II takes you on a journey around the galaxy as the corrupt - yet strangely lovable - forces of humanity struggle to stay alive against an insectoid alien race that seems unstoppable.
Bang For Your Buck: While the game's singleplayer campaign is a fairly lengthy (considering it's only 1/3 of the overall game), it's multiplayer where most of a player's time will be spent. Get hooked on Starcraft II and there's precedent for you to still be playing in twelve year's time.
Ideal Player: Someone who enjoys the freedom of a "sandbox" game like Grand Theft Auto, yet prefers their narrative with a little more substance and historical weight.
What's It About? One of 2009's best games wasn't out until 2010 on the Mac, so we're lucky to be able to include it. Players control a member of the order of Assassins as they stalk the streets of Renaissance Italy, trying to save the world from the evil Knights Templar.
Bang For Your Buck: Assassin's Creed II is a wholly singleplayer experience, but it's a long one, with plenty of diversions and side-missions along the way.
Genre: Island Death Simulation
Ideal Player: Someone who isn't afraid to experiment with a game, really push at its edges to see what can be done with an open world and finite resources.
What's It About? Minecraft puts you on an island and lets you fend for yourself. What begins as a struggle for survival eventually turns into an expression of your mastery over your domain, as frantic races for shelter at night give way to days spent building shrines in your own image.
Bang For Your Buck: Minecraft will last as long as your imagination can power your daily routines. It's a game free of story or time limits, so if you can find something to do on the island that day, you've found another way to spend a day playing Minecraft.
Ideal Player: Someone who likes to get their ass kicked.
What's It About? VVVVVV is a simple-looking platformer that specialises in being brutal, killing the player off every few steps. You will die playing this game. A lot. Like, hundreds - if not thousands - of times.
Bang For Your Buck: To be honest, not much. It'll take around eight hours to finish, and after that, you're done. It is a smaller/cheaper game, though, so bear that in mind!
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Ideal Player: Someone who prefers to work with people in an online shooter, rather than against them.
What's It About? A cooperative shooter, played online, where a small band of human survivors have to band together to survive a zombie apocalypse. It's dark, it's fast and it's a load of fun, especially when you play with people who know how to work as a team.
Bang For Your Buck: There aren't many maps to play, but the Left 4 Dead series is renowned for its AI "director", which is able to make each time you play through a level a different experience, with zombies spawning in new locations each time.
Ideal Player: Someone who isn't afraid of having their pants scared off.
What's It About?Amnesia is an adventure game played in the first-person. Sounds like a pleasant Sunday's afternoon gaming, only Amnesia is a horror adventure game, and quite possibly one of the scariest video games ever made.
Bang For Your Buck: It's not a time-sink like some of the other games on this list, but there is avenue for replays if the player wants to enjoy it a second of third time with a little of the tension relieved.
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Ideal Player: Shooter fans who like their action pure, and simple.
What's It About? Two cartoon teams, Red & Blue, fight it out in round after round of deathmatch combat. It's fast, it's funny and it's very addictive, feeling as fresh on the Mac in its 2010 debut as it did on PC in 2007.
Bang For Your Buck: New features and maps are being added to the game all the time. It shouldn't be measured in terms of hours. If Team Fortress 2 gets its hooks into you, your playtime will be measured in years.
Terry Cavanagh's wonderful VVVVVV is one of the best 2D platformers of 2010. But what if the gravity-flipping spike-filled interstellar adventure ventured into the third-dimension? It might look a little something like this.
Sadly, VVVVVVX is just a mock up. Or, as creator "Roxfox" describes it, "just a thing I made in Maya to prove that I know how to tug joints and IK handles around and keyframe them." I hear that!
The star of VVVVVVX looks like the lovechild of Mega Man X and Halo's Master Chief, not quite as charming as Captain Viridian, but we'd still jump him into a pit of spikes, should this 3D spin on VVVVVV ever be made.
Remember VVVVVV, the brutal & brilliant gravity-flipping platformer from early in the year? Ah, you do. Here‘s what Kieron had to say about it, and here‘s my take. Have you tried the demo? There’s a demo, you know.
More excitingly, as of last week there’s also a demo of the C64 demake. As in, converting the game so it will run on a C64. Why? Because, that’s why. Grab yourself an emulator and get the whopping 16kb ROM here. And for a reminder of why Kieron expects somebody to punch the VVVVVV creator in the face one day, watch the video after the jump. (more…)