Wow, talk about a stealth release. First released in 1998, Half-Life has never been available on OS X through Steam for Mac, even though every other Valve game — including Half-Life 2 and its episodic sequels — have. Sometime in the last few hours, though, Valve quietly released Half-Life for Mac on Steam… and still hasn’t apparently officially announced it.
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If you haven’t played Valve’s amazing sequel to its arguably even more awesome original Portal game, now may be the time to jump in. Valve has updated the map editor for Portal 2 to include co-operative levels, called test chambers. Now you can create these yourself and share with the vibrant Portal 2 community on Steam for Mac, according to today’s news from Valve.
Valve co-founder Gabe Newell knows a thing about Microsoft. After all, he initially founded Valve Software — makers of such mega-hits as the Half-Life, Portal and Left 4 Dead series, as well as the popular Steam digital delivery service — using the millions he made working for Microsoft for 13 years.
So when Gabe Newell says that he thinks Windows 8 is going to be apocalyptical for PC makers and cause OEMs to start fleeing the platform in droves, it’s worth paying attention. Especially since Valve’s Steam delivery service is putting increasing emphasis on Windows alternative OSes like Linux and, yes, the Mac.
There’s not much else to know right now, but Valve Software — the AAA game design house behind Portal 2, Team Fortress 2 and Steam for Mac — have just announced an entirely new game in the Counter-Strike series, which will debut on the Mac in early 2012.
Retrospectively casting an eye over an incredible year for both Apple and its customers, one of the most surprising developments of 2010 was the Mac’s long-overdue maturity into a serious gaming platform after years of false hopes and promises.
More surprising than even that, though, is the fact Apple almost had nothing to do with it: even while Cupertino oiled and massaged iOS into a platform capable of rattling the nerves of gaming’s most unassailable colossus, they continued to ignore Mac gamers and its developers.
So who was responsible for the Mac Gaming Renaissance of 2010? There’s no one company in particular, but let’s start with Valve.
Valve’s excellent Steam for Mac digital delivery service is having a Halloween sale this weekend, pretty much guaranteeing that if it’s spooky, on the Mac and features zombies, ghosts or monsters, you’ll be able to download it for the price of a Monster Mash.
If you’re a Mac gamer, here are the titles that are available at a discount this weekend:
• PopCap’s Plants Vs. Zombies — $4.99 (50% Off)
• Valve’s Team Fortress 2 (now featuring the Horseless Headless Horsemann in a scary new map) — $9.99 (50% Off)
• Valve’s Left 4 Dead Bundle — $14.99 (50% Off)
• Amnesia: The Dark Descent — $10.04 (33% Off)
All five of those games are terrific, and if you’ve got Boot Camp installed, there’s even more horror-themed titles to choose from.
Earlier this month, Valve finally brought their fantastic team-based cooperative zombie shooter Left 4 Dead 2 to the Mac. It was a much-appreciated port, but it was a bit odd, in that Valve had opted to bring Left 4 Dead 2 to the Mac before the original game in the series, which was built on the same engine.
According to Valve, the delay in bringing Left 4 Dead to the Mac simply had to do with the first game in the series being a bit more complicated to port to OS X than they had anticipated. They promised a release by Halloween, though, and I’m delighted to say that they’ve been as good as their word: load up Steam for Mac and you can now download Left 4 Dead.
The best news is it’s dirt cheap: Left 4 Dead will only cost you $9.99 if you buy it this week. Why not spend an extra 5 bucks, though, and pick up both Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 for $14.99? That’s just a steal.
Like Valve’s previous games, Left 4 Dead is Steam Play compatible, which means once you own it on the Mac, you also own it on the PC, and vice versa. If you intend on shooting zombies with some buddies this Halloween, though, make sure you have OS X 10.6.4 installed, as well as a 2GHz dual-core Intel CPU, an ATI Radeon x2400 or NVIDIA 8600M GPU or better.
Okay, it’s not coming in a few weeks like it was originally rumored, but if you’re a long time fanatic for Sid Meier’s Civilization series, good news: we now have official confirmation that Civilization V is coming to the Mac in time for Christmas.
The port is being handled by one of the biggest names in OS X game ports, Aspyr Media, who also handled porting Civilization IV and its expansions to the Mac. Hopefully that means Civilization V will also be be available through Steam for Mac, just like its predecessor… and also like its predecessor, we hope that means Civilization V will be a Steam Play game, entitling the owner of the PC version to download and play the Mac version for free, and vice versa.
Although Valve released their other Source engine titles with astonishing rapidity when they finally brought Steam to Mac earlier this year, but one sad lingering hold out in the games library disgorgement was the team-based zombie-shooter series, Left 4 Dead, with the delay largely chalked up to some bugs in OS X’s graphics drivers that Valve helped Apple iron out.
We’d previously heard tell that now that those graphic issues are fixed, Valve as hard at work to bring Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 to OS X by October… and now, if a casual mention over at Macworld is anything to go by, it looks like that date might have been further locked down to October 5th, along with the latest Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 add-on pack, “The Sacrifice.”
Looks like for us Mac gamers, the Halloween season is going to be filled with even more zombie mutilating than usual. Expect Cult of Mac to organize a few games of Left 4 Dead once it finally hits our platform.