12 Top Notch Games Ported Late to the Mac

Mac gamers always get shortchanged when it comes to big releases. We typically get blockbuster titles after everyone else, while the smaller commercial games rarely make it over at all. That’s been changing over the past few years, thanks to the impact of Steam, the Mac App Store, iOS converts, and cross-platform support from indies. But we still end up late to the party more often than not.

Here’s over a dozen recently-released (i.e., since 2011) Mac games that took so long to reach our fairer platform that the party’s already packed up and ended for Windows and console gamers. Don’t be fooled by their age, though — as the cream of the crop from the last decade in PC gaming, they’re more than worth your attention.

RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 Platinum

The 3D transition for the RollerCoaster Tycoon series came with boons and casualties. While you could marvel at the sights and sounds of your park and its rides through the eyes of its guests — affectionately called “peeps” — you could no longer kill them with outlandish rides of death. Once you get over that disappointment and adapt to the new visuals, there’s a deep and challenging simulation in either a career or sandbox mode, together with robust roller coaster design tools.

The Mac version comes too late for Atari’s official Ride Exchange — a place to share and download user-created content — but it still supports custom tracks, parks, and scenery. (See here for help finding and installing it.)

Price: $29.99
Requires: OS X 10.7.5 or later
Developer: Aspyr Media

Empire: Total War — Gold Edition

Our Windows compatriots got two more Total War games in the time it took for Empire: Total War to reach OS X shores. It was worth the wait, however, as Empire offers one of the best strategy gaming experiences of all time.

You guide your faction, any one of the 11 most powerful empires of the 18th century, through a turn-based campaign of trade, diplomacy, and espionage, as huge armies and navies move around the globe. But you also take control of your forces in real-time battles against rival powers, hopefully leading them to victory. It’s tough to learn, but Empire: Total War rewards your persistence with great attention to detail and an epic campaign.

Price: $39.99
Requires: OS X 10.7.4 or later; full hardware requirements listed on store page
Developer: Developer: Feral Interactive

Call of Duty: Black Ops

From multi-layered, historically-accurate strategy to mindless, frenzied first-person shooting, Empire: Total War and Call of Duty: Black Ops couldn’t be much further apart in their approach to a game about war, but Black Ops stands similarly at the pinnacle of its genre — at least until you consider its successors, Modern Warfare 3 and Black Ops 2 (fun fact: the Mac version of Black Ops was released just seven weeks prior to Black Ops 2 hitting consoles).

Black Ops suffers for being too much like the rest of the CoD series, and its single-player campaign is arguably too linear, but it’s still a fantastic high-octane cinematic experience for anyone who likes games about shooting dudes. Multiplayer is only with other Mac players, so your match-making mileage may vary.

Price: $49.99
Requires: OS X 10.7.4 or later
Developer: Aspyr Media

The Witcher: Enhanced Edition

It took nearly five years for The Witcher to hit Macs, but it too was worth the wait. Based on a book series by Andrzej Sapkowski, The Witcher tells a mature tale surrounding monster hunting “witcher” Geralt — one of the last of his kind — and his unwitting involvement in a series of interlinked conspiracies.

The Witcher was praised on release for its granularity of choice but criticized for shortcomings in the RPG combat system. Older gamers especially will appreciate the darker elements of the story, and you can jump straight into the sequel — which came out on the Mac in October last year. Be warned, though, that both are non-native ports, and many players have complained about performance and stability issues.

Price: $9.99
Requires: OS X 10.6.8 or later
Developer: CD Projekt RED

Sid Meier’s Railroads!

Many Mac owners were rightfully insulted when Sid Meier’s Railroads! came out in November last year. It was nearly six years old on the Windows side, so what took so long? You’ll have to look elsewhere for an explanation, but rest assured we’re better off having it late than not at all.

A modern, more casual re-imagining to the original Railroad Tycoon, Sid Meier’s Railroads! pits you as a rail baron in the wild west. It’s not as hardcore as its predecessors, but there’s a decent economic, management, and railroad-building simulation in here.

Price: $29.99
Requires: OS X 10.7.5 or later; see store page for supported graphics cards
Developer: Developer: Feral Interactive

Company of Heroes Complete: Campaign Edition

Railroads! isn’t the only PC title to find its way to the Mac six years late. Relic’s Company of Heroes wasn’t ported by Aspyr until March 2012, with the multiplayer modes dropped, but it at least included both expansions (Opposing Front and Tales of Valor).

The game plays rather like a mix between Battlefield 1942 and Warhammer 40,000. You direct units and squads around the map like a commander, capturing and defending buildings during the Battle of Normandy. Real-time-strategy veterans will love it, but the rest of us may struggle with the demanding micro-management.

Price: $29.99
Requires: OS X 10.6.6 or later
Developer: Aspyr Media

Grand Theft Auto III / Vice City / San Andreas

The Grand Theft Auto (GTA) games seem to court controversy at every turn, with prostitutes, killing sprees, and reckless disregard for traffic laws among their best known offences. But they’re really whatever you make of them, and it’s perfectly possible to play and have fun without breaking a single law.

GTA 3 tells an intriguing mafia tale, while Vice City takes you back to the world of 80s crime, and San Andreas pits you as African-American Carl Johnson in the sprawling gang-controlled state of San Andreas (which is based on parts of California). Each tunes the mechanics of the last, offering ever more satisfying open-world chaos.

Price: $9.99 (GTAIII); $9.99 (Vice City); $14.99 (San Andreas)
Requires: OS X 10.6.6 or later; 10.6.8 or later (San Andreas)
Developer: Rockstar Games

King’s Bounty: The Legend

Perhaps the least known title on this list, King’s Bounty: The Legend borrows heavily from the legacy of classic series Heroes of Might and Magic. It’s a fantasy role-playing game with lots of numbers and stats and text-based dialogue.

The twist is that the turn-based combat occurs on a small hexagonal grid while the rest of the game is played by moving a hero around an overworld map in real-time. You must carefully manage party resources and the strengths and weaknesses of each character class. There’s also an option to get married and have children.

Price: $19.99
Requires: OS X 10.6 or later
Developer: IMG Publishing

Tropico 3 Gold Edition

The Tropico games put a delightful twist on the classic SimCity formula, granting you rule over a banana republic in the 20th century. You need to balance your corrupted desire to embezzle funds with the happiness of your people, health of the local economy, and diplomatic relations with the Americans and Soviets — lest you be overthrown.

Tropico 3 introduced 3D visuals to the series, which still look gorgeous today, and retains the odd charm of building a city ruled by a dictator — who can even take hits out on innocent civilians or get killed by insurgents (both before your eyes).

Price: $29.99
Requires: OS X 10.6.8 or later; full hardware requirements stated on store page
Developer: Feral Interactive

Tomb Raider: Underworld

The soon-to-be released Tomb Raider isn’t Lara’s first reboot. Tomb Raider: Underworld is only the second title in the previous attempt, which remarkably suffers from most of the same complaints as the early games in the series — a weak story, disappointing camera, bland combat, and excessive killing of endangered wildlife.

Underworld is still a fine action-adventure experience for fans of the lady Indiana Jones and her puzzle-driven environmental exploration, with just enough openness to satisfy wanderers like me. If you missed it on console or PC, grab Underworld for Mac while you wait for the inevitable delay in an OS X port of the latest reboot.

Price: $24.99
Requires: OS X 10.6.8 or later; full hardware requirements stated on store page
Developer: Feral Interactive

Colin McRae: DiRT 2

Mac gamers don’t get to try many racing games, much less of the off-road variety. Feral Interactive managed to bring one of the best rally titles across to our side of the track in 2011, however. Colin McRae: Dirt 2 was superseded by Dirt 3 on other platforms that same year, but it still holds up as an excellent game and you’d best fork out the dough for it if you want to see its sequel on OS X.

Dirt 2 has a lengthy career mode, variable difficulty that caters to both beginners and pros, top-notch presentation, loads of cars and events, and a fairly robust multiplayer mode.

Price: $29.99
Requires: OS X 10.6.6 or later; supported graphics cards listed on store page
Developer: Feral Interactive

Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar

The Lord of the Rings Online, a massively multiplayer online role-playing game set in on J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth universe, has been around since April 2007, but it wasn’t until November last year that us Mac folks could visit the kingdom of Angmar.

On the positive side, this far into its life LOTRO is brimming with content and tweaked to be even better than in its early days as Best MMO at several games media outlets. And best of all, you don’t need to spend a penny to try it out — the game went free-to-play back in 2010.

Price: Free
Requires: OS X 10.7.5 or later; 2.0 GHz Intel Core i5
Developer: Turbine, Inc.

That’s All for Now

So there you have it. A dozen recent commercial game releases on the Mac that took more than two years to get ported. There’s no doubt that Mac users still treated as second-class citizens by the big publishers, but current signs indicate that our lot may be improving — most ports are happening faster, sooner.

Have you been holding out for a Mac version of any games, or did you hold out for one of these? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

And if you’re after something a bit older, check out our roundup of Five Classic Games Re-Released for OS X.


Add Yours
  • You forgot Portal :)

    • Portal fell just outside the scope of the piece (in that it came to the Mac in 2010, and I was focused on games ported to OS X since 2011). It’s a fantastic game, though, and I hope everyone who reads this has played/will play it.

      If I’d expanded the scope to the entire history of the Mac I could have easily turned the article into “30 Top Notch Games Ported Late to the Mac.” Or even 50. Years late rather than months late was the norm before Steam for Mac.

  • I’d like to voice some disappointment with how The Witcher was ported to Mac. They used a WINE wrapper, and the original engine that they stuck in was so terribly unstable that it was better to use a different, freely available engine. Even then the game would crash randomly about once per hour of continuous play and occasionally when loading a new scene, but it seemed decent… until level 3, which crashes all over the place. They released an update to the game with a new WINE engine but the game’s instability was unchanged.

    I’m not knocking WINE, and the problems are probably compounded by the fact that The Witcher was supposedly somewhat unstable even under Windows. But if a company is going to release a paid-for product, I expect to be able to make use of it. This isn’t an issue of insufficient hardware, this is purely buggy code. It’s wonderful that more companies are trying to support OS X, which has traditionally not been used with “gaming computers,” but they have to do it properly. I’d prefer to have less games available than to have games where you pay up only to find that they are only half-playable.

    • I couldn’t agree more. It’s a huge disappointment that CD Projekt released The Witcher Mac in such a state where (seemingly) the majority of players experienced significant stability issues.

      Some folks found updating the wrapper manually helped, for anyone still experiencing issues. There are a few threads over at the Porting Team’s (http://portingteam.com/frontpage) forums.

      Do it right or don’t do it at all; I think that goes for a lot of things, but game ports especially.

  • Don’t forget Half-Life


  • I think Apple’s entire Mac game strategy was more-or-less cancelled when, during development of the then Mac-only game HALO (which was designed specifically for the PowerPC), Bungie got snapped up by Microsoft. I think that left a bad taste in Steve’s mouth and he just said screw all of it and shuttered the game division.

    Was very happy that I saw Roller Coaster Tycoon on the Mac App Store a week or so back; bought a copy for my daughter and my son. We have a lot of happy memories of that game from way back when. (I once recreated an old amusement park, Pontchartrain Beach in New Orleans, on the game.) I hope it sells well enough for Zoo Tycoon to show up there as well.

  • Don’t forget:

    1. Pretty much the entire Valve library. Team Fortress 2, Half-Life 2, Portal, L4D, Counter-Strike: Source. I think even the original Half-Life and CS 1.6 were ported recently.

    2. Assassin’s Creed II, which I’ve been playing lately.

    3. Psychonauts