Most people don’t think of the Mac as a particularly agile gaming platform – it’s the one area I can think of that Windows typically wins hands down on. But lately that seems to be changing a little bit – and perhaps with the introduction of SteamOS being based on Linux (and the disaster that is Windows 8!) this may change even further. And if developers are starting to catch on that Windows market share is lessening and OSX is growing, they may start to develop more and more games for the Mac. And that can only be a good thing.
Atypical Games certainly seem to have noticed that the Mac is actually a decent gaming platform. They’ve written a number of games for Mac and for iOS devices and the one I’m looking at today is Sky Gamblers: Storm Raiders.
If you’re reading this and you’re a recent Mac convert from Windows you may remember Combat Flight Simulator by Microsoft from the late 1990’s / early 2000 era. I used to love playing it with my friends across the internet – such as the internet was back then. It had a few problems with slower connections such as planes not actually being where you thought they were when you were shooting them due to lag. Sky Gamblers: Storm Raiders is very similar to CFS, though without the lag.
Sky Gamblers: Storm Raiders is set in World War II, and you are a combat pilot. You can choose whether to run pre-set missions against the computer which open up new aircraft for you to fly as each mission gets harder and harder, or you can fly with your friends on a LAN connection or finally you can fly against complete strangers across the internet – which, I have to say, is probably the most fun you can have on your Mac!
The application is available on the Mac App Store at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/sky-gamblers-storm-raiders/id575497998 which means any updates to it come via the App Store too which is a nice feature meaning you don’t have to worry about downloading patch files or updates manually. It only costs $5.00 which compared to something like $39.99 which I believe is around the figure I paid for Combat Flight Sim when I bought it 15 years ago, is an absolute bargain.
It is fair to say though that SGSR is not really a simulator though. It’s definitely got an arcade type feel about it, although it claims to have a ‘simulator’ experience I found it very awkward to fly and definitely very awkward to shoot anyone down with the system in simulator mode. But the arcade mode works very nicely with the simple Logitech joystick I have plugged in to my Mac (which incidentally was found without the need for any kind of driver or software installation). The arcade mode makes the plane pretty controllable and makes shooting other planes achievable. I wouldn’t say that other players are easy to shoot down, my combat flight skills aren’t up to much these days!
The graphics in this game are fantastic, and the frame rate is smooth and movie-like. There are a a number of different modes to the multiplayer game such as ‘capture the flag’ and ‘last man standing’ modes, which make stategizing interesting to ensure you win! The battles can take place over Pearl Harbour or the East Coast of England. Missions can fly over the English Channel into France and behind enemy lines to support the bombing raids on trains, ships and German supply lines. Some of the missions are flown from the opposite side – the Germans – trying to attack London for example.
In-App purchases exist, although I haven’t actually performed any of these, so you can purchase new aircraft or different coloured versions of the aircraft you already have.
Overall, it’s nice to see a game such as this come out for the mac natively and not be wrapped by some kind of emulation layer (EVE Online, I’m looking at you) which reduces the framerate and generates extra unnecessary heat. SGSR works nicely on my MacBook Pro on the 9600GT video card and playing across the internet is smooth and fantastic fun. The online contests can be fought against other Mac players or iOS players, and you won’t even be able to tell the difference. I have installed the iOS version as well and it is almost exactly the same as the OSX version except that the controller used is the iPad / iPhone itself, using the accelerometer. I didn’t get on too well with it on the iPad, but I’m used to using a joystick to fly a plane. The iOS version can be installed by visiting https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/sky-gamblers-storm-raiders/id574375380
If you like combat flying this game is worth every cent. It’s flight model is a little odd at times but it is great fun if you can put that aside.
Design - 9/10
Features - 9/10
Cost - 9/10
Ease Of Use - 9/10
Customer Support - 9/10
Overall Value - 9/10
Positives: great fun, good graphics, multiple options, supports joystick, available on iOS too
Negatives: odd flight model
Trial Available: No
Price: $5.49 for Mac Version