Friday, September 06, 2013

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Mac Gamers: This Weekend, Play BioShock Infinite and SimCity, Two Very Different Utopias Now On OS X

Bioshock Infinite 1
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Last week two games that made huge waves earlier this year finally arrived on Mac: BioShock Infinite, which captured the hearts and minds of players with beautiful environments and engaging storytelling; and SimCity, which... Well, to be perfectly honest I think the best thing that I can say about the new SimCity is that I got a free copy of Mass Effect 3 for putting up with its trainwreck of a launch.

Because I bought both games on their respective distribution platforms (Steam and Origin) for PC, that means that in both cases the Mac versions are now available to me as well. I've had a little time to test them out, so here are my thoughts on how they hold up compared to their PC counterparts:

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SimCity's launch was a disaster, and after enjoying the game's final beta tremendously, I was wildly disappointed with the release. I played so little of that game I would have returned it in a heartbeat. Unfortunately SimCity Mac's launch wasn't exactly smooth and problem-free either. Installation issues initially kept prospective mayors from doing much of anything, though this has since been resolved and I had no problem installing or opening the game yesterday.

I was a little less than thrilled when SimCity started me at the absolute lowest graphics settings possible. I don't know if this is a default or if it tried to determine the settings that would be appropriate based on my specs, but given that I was able to run SimCity on the PC partition of my iMac almost maxed in every area without noticing any major performance problems, this wasn't what I was expecting to see. It was also irritating that I had to back out to the main menu to change any of the graphics settings, including the visual filters. That said, the game runs well enough and I have yet to experience the kind of crashing I'd expect from a certain other notable Sim title on the Mac.

Here's something I really appreciated, though: The fact that the game is always online means that if you played SimCity via Bootcamp as I had, all your regions were saved remotely, meaning that they'll be there just as you left them when you play on your Mac with no digging around for save files necessary. All my old regions from when I was desperately trying to find working servers were there; Imbruglia Isles, New Imbruglia, Neo New Imbruglia... Okay, so maybe it's essentially a side-effect of the extra-harsh DRM features in the game, but it's convenient, and it might be enough to get me playing again.

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As for BioShock Infinite, if you played it on a Windows partition like I did, you will have to shuffle your save files around to continue your adventures in Columbia with this version of the game. The game still looks great and runs beautifully, but that's not too surprising when you see who's behind the port. Aspyr have been porting games to Mac for ages now, and they're responsible for the seamless Mac version of Borderlands 2 released last year. That version is practically flawless, and given that both it and Infinite are built on the Unreal Engine you can probably expect the same solid experience.

What I've seen so far of the BioShock Infinite port exceeds my expectations, but having finished the game some time ago the only reason I would have to play further would be for DLC... And that might be a problem. Updates and DLC releases for the Mac version of Borderlands 2 have a significant delay from the PC releases, usually around two weeks. If that holds true for BioShock Infinite, I'll definitely be playing the upcoming noir-inspired Burial at Sea DLC in Windows instead. I'm just not patient enough to wait it out.

Either way, I'm always happy to see AAA PC titles come to Mac -- even if it takes a little time for it to happen.

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Mixed reality iris 2013Iris Ophelia (@bleatingheart, Janine Hawkins IRL) has been featured in the New York Times and has spoken about SL-based design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan and with pop culture/fashion maven Johanna Blakley.


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