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Boxes vs Curves: Counter-Strike Goes OSX

Attention, fans of repeatedly shooting men in slightly different-coloured outfits. The controversy-tastic beta update to Counter-Strike: Source (the one with the -gasp!- achievements, -aiee!- stats and – shock! – a killcam) has now gone on general release. As in, if you own Counter-Strike: Source, you’re getting it whether you want it or not. Not tried the update yet, but going on the community response to the beta, it’s going to be messy.

You’ll also be able to kill people on Macs, who can buy the thing for their glowing fruit-emblazoned personal computers as of today. Yes, the hardest-dying of PC gamers can exact bloody revenge on those OSX upstarts. It’s going to be messy.

To celebrate, the game’s been discounted by some 66% – which equates to just £4.76 in UK groats. A few top-of-the-head thoughts on Mac gaming below…

Looking at the update news page, I snigger at the solemness of it. This is a world away from the playfulness and absurdity of Team Fortress 2 or the wry abstraction of Portal: Counter-Strike is serious business.

Its players aren’t here for gags. Its players are here purely to play Counter-Strike. Even the game’s creators know not to get in the way of that. There will be no Saxton Hale for Counter-Strike. There will only ever be the terrorists and the counter-terrorists. Its story will never change.

All this Steam/Mac stuff does, of course, beg the question of to what extent we should be covering OSX games here. Jim and I had a brief chat about it the other night, and the upshot is that it’s still too soon to say whether there’ll really be a renaissance in Mac gaming. Valve are doing it, but who else is? A lot of big-name PC games remain not terribly well optimised ports of console games, and that means they just won’t run well (if at all) on many Macs. To really create a huge Mac gaming scene, publishers will need to invest a lot more in the ports, and that may mean people and resources they just don’t want to spare.

Alternatively, it may lead to a new explosion in both well-optimised ports and even more excellent indie games, as devs both big and small realise there’s a new market out there now, with disposable income and less piratical tendencies/opportunities.

I’m making some wild and sweeping guesses here, I do appreciate. Really must research the state of Mac gaming in 2010 properly sometime…

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Alec Meer

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Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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