The Best of Mac Gaming in 2013

written by Jon Carr on December 30, 2013 in Classic Posts and Special Feature

2013 was quite a prolific year for Mac gaming. There were roughly about 250 Steam/Steam Play releases, including DLC’s. Granted, not every game is on Steam (there were a few Mac App Store exclusives such as SEGA Tennis and Sonic Racing), but it is still a good metric since the majority of games are. Further, these releases went beyond the “big” or AAA style games; many of titles released actually fell under the indie game label or DLC. All in all we got more than our share of notable games this year along with another handful of gems that really stood out from the rest. With so many releases it was hard to pick the best games of the year, but here are our winners for a variety of genres along with any runner-ups.

How this list was made: 

There were simply more games released this year than one person could possibly play, or at least complete. So for the purposes of this list, we decided to focus specifically on the bigger AAA titles. Additionally, there’s simply no good way to compare some games from different genres, so we’ve split them up based on what we thought was fair or relevant. Finally, we only included games that we played ourselves (which was still quite a lot!).

Best First-Person Shooter

BioShock Infinite

BioShock Infinite

This crown easily goes to BioShock Infinite. Infinite feels similar enough yet completely different from the previous BioShock games, really helping it stand out from any of the other shooters released this year. The combination of a wondrous setting, intriguing story and possibly the best NPC ever in Elizabeth make it a compelling recommendation. I feel it would have been interesting even just as an adventure game, but the intense combat and variety of options it gives the player to invest in really make this offering the best in class, if not the best game of the year, period. If you haven’t tried BioShock Infinite yet, don’t put it off. Go play it now! And with Aspyr’s continued support of the DLC’s such as Burial at Sea the journey doesn’t have to end with the main story. [Buy/Add to Wish List]

Runner-up: Metro: Last Light

Last Light was an occasionally clunky but very unique title that came to the Mac this year. Part survival/horror, part shooter, Last Light juggles intense shootouts with quiet moments. Highly recommended as our FPS runner-up. [Buy/Add to Wish List]

Best 3rd-Person Shooter

maxpayne3_cover

Max Payne 3

Despite a troubled launch, Max Payne 3 still earns the best 3rd-person shooter spot. Offering a thrilling return to the series for long-time fans and an amazing shooter experience for everyone else, it is easy to suggest. Max’s dark world of misery and violence fuel the excellent narrative, fantastic graphics and top-notch shooting mechanics. Bullet time never gets old, and neither does Max’s commentary and quotes. You’ll race through the game without even noticing the 10 or so hours it will take you. If you prefer multiplayer carnage, Max Payne 3 also delivers with a challenging, but solid multiplayer setup. [Buy/Add to Wish List]

Runner-up: Spec Ops: The Line

A very subversive take on the military shooter genre, Spec Ops: The Line takes all your expectations and turns them on its head as you go along. Delivering gorgeous visuals and a very personal and engaging story, Spec Ops should not be missed. Its short campaign and lackluster multiplayer are the only knocks on an otherwise great game. [Buy on Steam]

Best Real Time Strategy Game

StarCraft 2

StarCraft 2: Heart of The Swarm

Following the events of Starcraft 2, Heart of the Swarm has you take on the role of the Zerg and their erstwhile queen, Kerrigan. The single player campaign is a lot of fun with a super-powered Kerrigan to run around and destroy everything she touches. As you have to choose specific “evolutions” of your swarm, you can play through again with different units available to build in missions. The story can be cheesy but is still entertaining and punctuated by Blizzards epic cutscenes. Multiplayer remains as competitive and frantic as ever with the additions of new units to each of the three races. [Buy from Blizzard]

Runner-up: Napoleon: Total War

This game falls awkwardly between the category of both turn-based and real time strategy making it harder to put into one category. Still, the period based strategy and combat make for fun gameplay in this great continuation of the Total War series on Mac. [Buy/Add to Wish List]

Best Turn-Based Game

XCOM Enemy Unknown Mac

XCOM: Enemy Unknown

After much critical acclaim on the PC, Feral brought us XCOM: Enemy Unknown earlier this year. This excellent release has a slight learning curve, but is fantastically fun and addictive. Commanding the forces of XCOM against the invading aliens has you building and managing a base while ranking up and outfitting your soldiers to take on the alien menace. The core of the game is truly the excellently done turn-based combat, but base building is fun as well. Be careful! Every death is permanent. It will have you playing “just one more turn” long into the night. [Buy/Add to Wish List]

Best Racing Game

 GRID Mac

GRID

Can this game from 4 years ago (yet released in 2013 on Mac) still stand up today? Yes, yes it can. GRID offers a deeply immersive driving experience that borders on driving simulator. Offering a realistic selection of tracks and cars along with damage and physics, GRID is geared more towards veteran racers. But even as a novice myself I enjoyed zooming around in the surprisingly gorgeous tracks and hearing my team’s dialogue. Sound quality is also top notch. If racing is your thing, don’t miss GRID. [Buy/Add to Wish List]

Runner-up: Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing

If you find more realistic games likes GRID too daunting, then look no further than Sonic Racing. This App Store exclusive is aimed at the casual/arcade crowd and is easy to pickup and play. Featuring a host of different SEGA characters, fabulous game-world tracks  and “All-Star” moves to unleash on your opponents, Sonic Racing is a blast from start to finish. [Buy/Add to Wish List]

Best Free-to-Play Game

Dota 2 Mac

Dota 2

Unlike most free to play games, Dota 2 doesn’t “feel” or look cheap. Valve’s polished work feels like something you could have easily paid $50 for. The Mac launch had a rocky start with some performance issues, but these were soon smoothed out, letting Mac gamers everywhere discover just what the fuss is all about. The game’s learning curve is incredibly steep and will drown newcomers, but finding or having a set of friends to play and learn with will keep things fun. And the more you learn, the more fun you will have. Dota 2 is more than just a game, however; it is an ever-evolving sport and classroom. Play it like one and you will find an experience that is unmatched by anything else in the gaming world. [Play now on Steam]

Best Action Game

Lord of the Rings War in the North Mac

Lord of the Rings: War in the North

War in the North brings us back to Middle Earth for some fantasy action. Occurring as a background story to the main events of LOTR, you can choose from one of three companions in their quest to aid the war against Sauron. The game is best played in cooperative mode but is still great on your own. We don’t get many hack-and-slash games on the Mac these days, so War in the North will scratch that itch nicely with its violent combat and upgradeable heroes. [Buy/Add to Wish List]

Runner-up: Brutal Legend

Tim Schafer’s Brutal Legend finally saw a Mac release earlier this year through the Humble Indie Bundles. A combination of adventure, driving and combat all set to the tune of heavy metal makes for a rather offbeat experience. It’s a wild and wacky ride that is worth checking out. [Buy/Add to Wish List]

Best DLC

Assault on Dragon Keep

Borderlands 2: Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep

Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep is easily the best DLC Gearbox has ever released. (And in my opinion, that Aspyr has ported.) Filled with fantastic environments, enemies, and the most amusing of quests, this is a must-have for any Borderlands 2 fan. Leave behind the robots and bandits, its time for orcs, goblins and skeletons. One quest has you forcing 3 “player” characters to rage-quit by killing them and teabagging the corpses. Another quest has you attempting to pickup a gun, but you keep failing the “roll” to pick it up. Hilarious for gamers and D&D fans alike. Being stuck in Tiny Tina’s imagination is so fun I wish they would make an entire game out of it. [Buy/Add to Wish List]

Runner-up: XCOM: Enemy Within

Enemy Within is a fantastic piece of DLC which really qualifies as an expansion. Integrating directly into the main XCOM game, it cranks up the addictiveness by several notches. New units, new tech, weapons, enemies, and best of all many new locations make playing a campaign so much more interesting. Add on unique and creative side missions, and it’s hard to put down. [Buy/Add to Wish List]

What were your best “big” games of 2013? Let us know in the comments!