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Valve did well with the port to Mac, but a little more work remains to be done. During testing, the game crashed twice on a Mac Pro running Mac OS 10.6.3, and occasional control glitches emerged that caused the main character to automatically move sideways for 30 to 60 seconds. These are by no means deal-breakers to an otherwise great game, but some patch work isn’t out of the question. A few hiccups aside, this remains one of the finest first-person shooters for any platform--ever. The story and visuals are spectacular, and the inventive gameplay keeps you coming back. For $9.99, it’s hard to go wrong, even though the multiplayer mode is in a separate $4.99 game called Half-Life 2: Deathmatch, which wasn’t available for the Mac at press time.
Depending on your perspective, Half-Life 2 is either the most epic and ambitious title Valve has ever done, or the most bloated and unfocused. But even with its missteps, there’s a reason why Half-Life 2 appears on virtually every “best games of all time” list. It pushes the FPS genre in new and ambitious directions—the gravity gun, the physics engine, the visuals, the story, the AI, are all innovations that would carry other games. But with Valve, they’re just part of a laundry list of things they got right. Half-Life 2 is simply one of those games that can be held up as art, as something that is smarter than Halo or Gears of War while still being engrossing to play and fun to explore. If you have Steam on your Mac, you simply need to experience this colossus of game development.