When one is on an alternative platform usually they have to deal with the lack of something compared to the more mainstream platform. Usually that one thing is games. In some cases the original developer goes ahead and makes a version for your platform. Valve and Croteam are examples of developers who have done this. In other cases they farm it out to a third party studio who specializes in it. Examples of that are Feral Interactive porting the latest Batman games or Aspyr with Duke Nukem Forever or Call of Duty Black Ops.
Another option, barring installing Windows in virtualization or dual booting to it is to use a compatibility layer software package known as WINE, Cider or Crossover. Those are sort of like
Before I begin I'll say this right now.... this entry is really just about how well these games run in WINE rather than a critique of the games themselves. If I do a critique of the games I'll make an entry dedicated to the particular game instead. All the games I talk about here have been run on a late 2009 Model 27" iMac with a 2.6GHz Core i5, ATI RadeonHD4850 512MB, 12GB of RAM, and 1TB hard drive. It's hooked up to a 5.1 surround sound system.
Also to note.. before proclaiming a game stable or playable or not I usually do a thorough playthrough of the game or several of them.
FEAR Trilogy: This is one set of games that makes me glad WINE is around because Warner Bros. has never seen fit to have Monolith, et al to port that series to the Mac natively. At this point it's running pretty sweet to boot. There was a stretch of time when wineskin and family had issues with running the game. Particularly FEAR2 with maxed out settings. It was because of the texture setting. If one had that set to maximum the game had random crashes which got worse at certain points of the game. Many people assumed that it was because no computer was capable of running the game with maxed out settings at least not without having to lower them later on to complete the game. They also where unaware of which exact setting that was the culprit and assumed it was all the settings. Thankfully this turned out to not be the case.
Even the newest game FEAR3 which makes FEAR2 look almost as dated as FEAR1 in the graphics department works great with high settings. The only thing about that game at the moment is I can see light sources through the walls. I'm not sure what's causing that.. but otherwise runs great. At this point I would say the entire FEAR franchise is fully playable in WINE provided you have the right hardware.
The only problem here is newer WINE engines and ATI hardware with this game at least cause the weapons to look like they are made of glass so I have to keep this installed in wrappers with Crossover Games WINE Engine 10.3.0. The same thing applies to another Monolith game called Condemned Criminal Origins because it runs on the same lithtech jupiter EX engine that those other games run on.
FEAR2 is special though because it seems sensitive to wrapper changes. So... if I want to upgrade its wrapper when newer versions come out it's best to make a fresh wrapper with the required support files and transfer the game over to it rather than try to upgrade the current one... otherwise instability creeps into it or it might even fail to load completely. I have FEAR2 in a Crossover WINE Engine powered wrapper with all the support files that came with the game installed in it. The only downside is... Crossover Games 10.3.0 doesn't have support for multisampling but newer engines than that that might have it also have the transparent weapons bug.
FEAR3 is an exception because it is from another company and runs on another engine. That game I have on the latest WINE engine from WINEHQ with an AMD\ATI patch so the graphics don't fall back to software. FEAR3 doesn't have a multisampling option though.
Clive Barker's Jericho: This game got useable sometime in early '10 and kept on getting better and better. 1.3.17 of WINE enabled multisampling which served to increase the image quality quite a bit and now it's one of the best performing games all around with max settings. Not much to say about it.. it's a solid performer all around. I have it on the latest WINE at the time of writing which is 1.5.13.
Wolfenstein (2009): It's kind of surprising Aspyr hasn't stepped up to port this game natively to the Mac since it's an id franchise title running under id tech 4 and they usually handle that. But at least it runs very well in WINE.. has been for a while now and while there are small improvements to performance from time to time no major improvements have been noted but the game was already running virtually perfect anyway. This game has some of the best graphics id tech 4 has produced especially if one turns up all the settings and turns on detail mapping. It even beats out id tech 5 powered RAGE especially in the texture department. I currently run this under 1.5.13.
Doom 3: Yes, Doom 3 has a native Mac version by Aspyr. The only thing is there are mods for it that improve the graphics and gameplay such as the sikkmod and those mods would have to be recompiled for the Mac version to run in it and nobody with the knowhow seems to be interested in doing it. Same thing with the expansion called "Resurrection of Evil". So I run those in wineskin. Runs perfectly there... and I've kept it up to date so WINE Engine 1.5.13 for here too.
Furthermore it seems the native version of Doom 3 is coded to specifically reject Resurrection of Evil to reserve the right for selling the Mac version of that to Aspyr. However, it seems at this point that's never coming out unless they port the upcoming BFG edition so this is the only way of playing that expansion pack. The donwside to the BFG edition though is the engine in it is a hybrid of id tech 4 and 5 so it breaks mod compatibility and they didn't roll in any improvements from the sikkmod into it. So unless they release an SDK for the BFG edition this is still the best way to run Doom 3.
I haven't had any luck running any other id tech 4 game such as Quake 4 and Prey with sikkmod in wineskin though unfortunately.
Alan Wake: This game was pretty problematic at first but has seen some improvement lately. At first there was problems with the controls. This game wants rawinput and one needed to use a custom WINE engine with a rawinput patch in order to play the game. Also there was a problem with the sound... usually, the sound would work in-game or in the FMV cut scenes but usually not both. I had some luck with it playing sound in both of those and did a play-through or two of it that way. But generally speaking it's either one or the other. Right now with WINE 1.5.13 one doesn't need a custom WINE engine with patch any more because they rolled in rawinput into WINE.. however.. the bug with the sound still remains. Only now... it's only playing in-game sound and never in the FMVs. The performance of the game has seen some improvement though and the in-game videos such as Night Springs no longer have their sound fall out of sync.
Aliens vs Predator (2010): This game is another problem game and while it's seen some improvement it's still not perfect. Right now in 1.5.13 all the enclosed indoor scenes run perfectly. However the outdoor sun lit scenes are sluggish if one is facing the general direction of the sun. It's almost as if the light source for that is running in software or something. Also after a while in game radio chatter and other voices fail to play.
Painkiller & Painkiller Overdose: This has long been a pretty good set of games to run in WINE however when upgrading it was always a mixed bag. I used to run it almost exclusively in Cider for a good long while and there sometimes different revisions of it that I would upgrade to would break the texture rendering. After a while I decided to switch it over to wineskin and at some point it became good enough there that I switched it over permanently. Then it had some performance problems then those got fixed. I currently run it at 1.5.13 full settings with 6x multisampling. There's an HD remake coming out soon and it to me it remains to be seen how it compares. But until then or if that's a failure there's always the originals in WINE to play.
Black Mesa Source Total Conversion: I talked about this in my last entry. This is sort of an update to that. Cider seems to run it more stable than wineskin with less stutter although it still crashes at certain points. Still a great update to a classic game. I'm probably going to play it some today.
Rayman Origins: I'm including this game here to note a thing or two about it. The 2D HD graphics are pretty sweet looking and run well in WINE. There was some sluggishness in previous versions but I think there has been some imrpovement lately with wineskin updates and OS X graphics driver updates. Being a platformer I highly suggest a gamepad for this game. The only thing is it doesn't seem to react well to my Wireless 360 controller so I have to use my Logitech Cordless Rumblepad II with it. This happens with a few other wineskin games or even a cidre game or native game port or two.... such as with Evil Dead Regeneration and Psychonauts.
Serious Sam First and Second Encounter HD: These games used to be rather unstable at first but that seems to have been fixed in the meantime. Croteam has made a native version of Serious Sam 3 so WINE is unneeded for that. On the other hand these two seem to be somewhat more stable than SS3 native for some reason. Serious Sam 3 was a lot more unstable than they ever where especially at first. Even later on there was a certain point that caused a hard lock with my system with Serious Sam 3. Also, Steam seems to have a bug with Serious Sam 3 lately where it fails to launch the game with an unknown error but if you go into the games folder and launch it directly with Steam open it loads just fine.
Unreal Gold, Deus Ex GOTY, Unreal Tournament: Some people on Mac seem to want to hang onto their old PowerPC versions of these games and are upset that Apple dumped the PowerPC compatibility layer known as Rosetta thus breaking them. However.. I believe it's not worth it especially at this point. The PC versions of Unreal Tournament and Unreal Gold have gotten several unofficial patches that improve their stability with newer operating systems and fix lots of bugs that remained after Epic stopped supporting those games. Also, all those Unreal Engine 1 powered games have received updated renderers to work with newer operating systems as well as high definition texture packs and more.
The Mac versions of those games had even more bugs than the PC versions did. The last released versions of Unreal and Unreal Tournament didn't have music and one couldn't turn on detail textures and it didn't seem to like having its ini file edited to enable custom resolutions. The PC versions... even without patches seemed friendlier to that sort of thing.
Speaking of Unreal Engine games.. right now I have a few Unreal Engine 3 games running in Cider and have had for a while. These games are Saw The Videogame, X-Men Origins Wolverine, Mirror's Edge, Unreal Tournament 3, Transformers War For Cybertron and Singularity. Due to game breaking rendering bugs that they have with ATI on wineskin I run them in cider. Most of them run pretty good. For a while there was some slowdown after playing for a while which even happened in Feral's native port of Borderlands. But lately that seems to have improved.
There's some micropauses in games like Saw The Videogame still though. The best performing games out of all of those are Transformers once I unlocked the frame rate so it's not limited to 30FPS and Wolverine. Singularity needs a higher version of shader model than what is provided in cider.. it's has some shader model 4.0 effects which aren't present in the shader model 3.0 compatible cider... so that means a few effects such as the in-game ghosts aren't showing as well as the muzzle flash of the assault rifle. Also historically speaking some parts of the game cause massive frame rate drops perhaps from them having to be done in software. I haven't tested those parts in Mountain Lion 10.8.2 so I don't know how it fares now but I kind of doubt that has improved.
From a technical standpoint I felt Raven Software's work with id tech 4 powered Wolfenstein was better than UE3 powered Singularity. It had better graphics all around and performance and compatibility.
One last game I want to mention that I've been playing in WINE is Bully Scholarship Edition. Generally speaking I haven't really gotten into any of Rockstars games barring the ones made by third parties such as Max Payne (which was a Remedy game and the first one was coproduced by 3D Realms). There was some graphical glitches and crash to desktops with that game which is up in the air how more stable it is in current WINE. Also, I've been wanting to play that game with a gamepad but the gamepad support in it is too buggy to use. Also there was some performance problems in the carnival area of the map where it felt sluggish. This game could use a professional studio such as Feral's touch but I was able to complete it at least twice in WINE so that's something.
That's all for now.. I may write some more later perhaps about other games. But for now that's the state of WINE gaming as I see it.