2007 wasn't a great year for Macintosh gaming. Sure, we had the big announcement and follow-through of A-list titles from Electronics Arts, and Aspyr brought us Guitar Hero III and the obligatory Star Wars cash-in, but the year was otherwise controlled by a bunch of cake serving and hidden object games. I understand there's an audience for theseeven the mighty Aspyr hopped onto this bandwagon by publishing Travelogue 360: Paris. I mean, I like serving cake to dozens of people, and I imagine I'd like looking in all directions for things in Paris if I ever make it there, but what I really want to do is fight dragons and explore tombs and engage in heavy-weapon death matches.
And well, here we go. Within the next few months, we'll be seeing a slew of A-list games from the top tier of Macintosh publishers: Feral Interactive is publishing Tomb Raider Anniversary, MacSoft has announced Unreal Tournament III, and Aspyr is publishing both Neverwinter Nights 2 and Call of Duty 4. That's some serious, hard core gaming you all have in front of you; the type of games that'll further solidify your theory that the PS3 is still $200 too expensive.
Of these games, the one that has me the most excited is Neverwinter Nights 2. This is because I absolutely loved Neverwinter Nights (see my review), and because this traditional RPG just feels like a computer game. Although Call of Duty 4, Tomb Raider Anniversary and Unreal Tournament III all have the potential for greatness, they'll undoubtedly feel and play like console games ported to the Mac. But RPGs such as Neverwinter Nights 2 need the computer. They need the keyboard. They need the intimate, semi-private environment of a computer desk. They need the atmosphere that we gaming geeks have created for ourselves, and in which we take our refuge from the elements of life that can't be fixed with a healing spell or +2 bastard sword. I never played Dungeons & Dragons in high school or college, but I apparently should have.
Mark KrenekMac development manager at Aspyrseems to share my love for the genre...and for the earnings potential of Neverwinter Nights, of course. "Aspyr chose to pursue Neverwinter Nights 2 because of the success of its predecessor on the Mac and its success on the PC, our love for the genre and our belief it is a great game" Mark said in a recent interview. "We hadn't been involved with an RPG since Knights of the Old Republic and wanted to make sure we continued to support the genre with quality titles."
That love for the genre helped them out through the development cycle, which has seen its share of troubles. Issues with video cards and OS X updates, as well as high project demand of the programmers during the holiday season, caused Neverwinter Nights 2 to miss its anticipated December shipping date. The extra time will pay off, however, as the camera/performance issues that plagued the initial release of the PC version are being addressed. "We have worked with Apple to address some of the performance problems and tweaked the Mac performance to match the hardware currently available on Macs," Mark explained.
Of course, it doesn't hurt when you're this enthusiastic about the game on which you're working, and the variety in Aspyr's line-up helps to keep up that enthusiasm. "This was a great title to work on," Mark said. "RPGs present different challenges compared to other genres. So it's always nice to work on something slightly different."
Although Neverwinter Nights 2 hasn't even been released, I'm already getting greedy. With Neverwinter Nights, publisher MacSoft brought us two expansion packs, but no world editor. Considering that expansion packs for the PC version are already available, will Aspyr be bringing any of these our way? Not yet, as they're not bundled with the initial release. However...
"I'd like to see us do the expansion pack, particularly if the game sells well,"Mark offered. "Beyond that, I would prefer to not make comments about future Mac titles, which would only lead to speculation."
Well, if it's all the same to Aspyr, I'll speculate nonetheless. It'll give me something to do until the end of February, which is when Aspyr now expects to ship Neverwinter Nights 2. Unreal Tournament III will be available early yet this year, Tomb Raider Anniversary should be just around the corner, and Call of Duty 4 is on schedule to be out in May. You can watch Applelinks for our reviews, but I think it's safe to go ahead and get your preorders in now. These all look to be great games from some of our favorite publishers, and what were you planning to play, anyway? Dress Shop Hop?
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