HALO for Mac,$70. Rating: NNN
ADDICTIVENESS: Family? What family?
GRAPHICS: It pains me to say it, but it looks better on the PC.
ANTI-SOCIAL FACTOR: Killing just feels better when you're doing it with a friend.
PROXIMITY TO THE REAL THING: If the real thing is Alien, then we're talking.
we mac users are loyal folk, per haps too loyal. We will inevitably pay three times as much for home computers as PC users, won't speak ill of the brand even when our machines become out of date a few years after we get them, and will wait patiently for Mac-friendly versions of games that have been on store shelves in other formats for years.
Halo is a great example. The ultra-violent, insanely addictive game was the heart and soul of the XBox launch a few years back and made instant converts out of the 3 million or so people who picked it up. Completely rational people just disappeared for months on end trying to battle their way through the massive Alien-like setting.
Mac users could easily have rented or bought an XBox to play the game on. Instead, they waited, and waited... and waited (almost three years after it was announced) until this month, when a version that plays on Apple computers came out. Then, when the game finally launched, Mac zines devoted entire issues to it as if it were new, not old. People lined up at midnight to buy copies. Baffling, illogical behaviour, I know. That's Mac users. Loyal to a fault.
Was the wait worth it? Well, no. Halo on the XBox is still a holy experience, even better if you connect your machine to a network and go head to head to head to head with an office full of gun-toting co-workers.
This Apple version is lifted almost entirely from the XBox (and PC) versions that came before, but with less impressive graphics. There's no drastic reinvention of the game, no dozens of additional levels, just the opportunity to play a more than two-year-old game on your G4.
And it had better be a G4 or up. Plug the game into anything less and your machine will creak and groan like an old foot-pump sewing machine. You'll also need a joystick for precision shooting and steering. Keyboards are for typing.
Nitpicking aside, this is still a fantastic game. For those who've kept their heads in the sand and avoided it until now, it's worth the cash. The level of sheer brutality and mayhem, the control and feel of the game and the unflinching addictiveness are all there. Online, the chaos only spreads wider.
In the real world, game freaks are getting excited about the April launch of Halo 2. Chances are, though, the Mac addict on your holiday list won't even notice that Halo 1 is three years late.