Steam for Mac

I’m not really much of a gamer. I play a bit, but it’s generally ‘casual’ games. I don’t have a console, and I don’t think it would be worth buying one for the bit of gaming I might do. A Wii (Search for "Wii" on: DuckDuckGo, Amazon UK, Amazon US) might be worthwhile, but we’d have to buy a TV to go with it first, and that’s quite a bit of money.

When I switched to Mac some time ago, I was prepared for the fact that there weren’t as many games available. Before that I’d been using a tablet PC with no CD or DVD drive, which would have been enough to stop many games from working anyway. Age of Empires is the only ‘real’ game I’ve played much of, and even that probably averages out to less than one game every couple of weeks.

All that said, I was still quite glad to see the arrival of Steam for Mac, with a bunch of new games available, and more to follow. Even better, to celebrate the launch, they’ve made Portal free for both Mac and PC for a couple of weeks. Portal is similar to the old platform games we used to play back in the days of 8-bit home computers, but with a big twist. It’s fully 3D, from a first-person perspective. Imagine a first-person shoot-em-up like the old Wolfenstein, Duke Nukem, Unreal Tornament, etc; but instead of running around shooting anything that moves, you’re walking around completing a series of puzzles. In the early stages, at least, there’s very little real peril. Nothing is trying to kill you, and you’ll work the puzzle out eventually. In the stages I’ve reached now, though, things are getting a little more dangerous, with a few ways to die.

The result, for me at least, is a more fun experience. The puzzles are cleverly built, and there’s sometimes more than one way to beat them. It’s very immersive, and takes a bit of thought.

Steam itself seemed quite flaky at first, crashing several times as I tried to have a look around the store. It was updated the next day, though, and again the day after, and seems much better already. I’ve heard elsewhere that this is fairly common with Steam and their products – lots of problems for the first day or two, but they quickly fix things.

I’m eying up my next Steam purchase already (I suspect Civilization IV is my kind of game), but it’s well worth taking the chance to get Steam and Portal while Portal is free.