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Sunday, April 4, 2010

Developed by CodeWeavers

Developed by CodeWeavers, CrossOver Games is a commercial, game-optimized version of the Wine project, whose goal is to allow non-Windows systems to run Windows software without installing the OS. CrossOver Games is not an emulator, and it needs to run on an Intel Mac; it won’t work on a PowerPC-based machine.

Like any gaming environment, it benefits from more horsepower; we tested it on a MacBook Pro maxed out with 4GB of RAM. While looking through CodeWeavers’ list of supported games, Valve’s titles stood out as ones that Mac gamers have been yearning for. Our tests focused on Portal and Half-Life 2.

Installing CrossOver Games was easy, but game installation was fraught with more difficulty than we would’ve liked. We had our install disc ready, and everything seemed to be going well, but after the installation completed, we couldn’t find the installed games in CrossOver’s menu. We had to quit and relaunch CrossOver Games for the titles to appear.

But once we launched Steam, Valve’s gaming client, it immediately started downloading updates to the installed games, and generally behaved as it should have. The only other significant glitch was that it took some work to figure out how to run games in windowed, rather than full-screen, mode. It turns out that for most of Valve’s games, you have to set the in-game preference and then quit and relaunch CrossOver Games to make the change take effect.

The strongest game by far is the hidden picture and item mixing game with Miracle Max. Each stage is a two-fold affair. You must first find all the ingredients he requests from various rooms around his shop. Most hidden item games suffer from using grainy, blurry rooms filled with equally grainy items to obscure them.

This game features a well-drawn and crisply animated room, that just happen to be very cluttered. It works very well overall. The mixing portion involves taking potion ingredients to combine and form a potion that matches the one in the book in front of you. It starts out simple and then quickly layers on all types of mixing things to consider and becomes a pretty engaging little game.

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