Appletell gift guide: Give a Christmas gift of Steam

Sections: Features, Games, Gift Guide, Mac Software

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When you think of Apple and games, you probably think of the iOS devices and fun, simple games like Angry Birds. But the Mac’s growing market share has attracted game designers to the Mac, too, and none more prominent than Valve, who not only brought many of their own games, but their Steam delivery system to Intel systems running OS X as well.

Steam lets you purchase and download games as digital downloads, but more importantly for the holiday season, lets you give them as gifts. So if you need to send a gift to a Mac gamer far away (or just don’t want to fight holiday crowds) here are some suggestions:

The Orange Box

“The Orange Box” is Valve’s codename for several games that were developed in-house using the Steam software. Though most of them are a few years old, their great stories and challenging gameplay mean they’re still great fun. In the Orange Box, you get

Half-Life 2 and Half-Life 2 Eps. 1 & 2

Half-Life 2 is a first-person shooter that follows Dr. Gordon Freeman as he fights to free the earth from its conquest by the alien Combine. Driven as much by its character-driven storyline as its thrilling combat, you’ll run and shoot, but also speed through deserted highways on a dune buggy and fly through the sewers on a swamp boat.

And once you finish the first, full game, you’ll continue the adventure in Episodes 1 and 2, two shorter adventures which feature the next adventures of Freeman as he attempts to wipe out the occupation forces.

Team Fortress 2 is a team-based deathmatch game. Choose a character class and support your teammates as you try to wipe out the other side.

Portal Strange, funny, and fantastic, Portal won several Game of the Year awards for its innovative gameplay. You are Chell, who wakes up in the Aperture Science Testing Lab. A computer, GladOS, cheerfully leads you through the puzzle rooms using the Portal Gun which allows to teleport. As the game progresses, though, the puzzles become deadlier and you quickly learn that GladOS may not have your best interests at heart.

All of these games (except for Portal) are available as individual downloads, but when you buy the Orange Box, you save almost sixteen bucks.

Buy The Orange Box.

Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2

These “cooperative shooters” follow four survivors of the zombie apocalypse, fighting their way through hordes of infected humans as they try to find some kind of safe haven. It’s playable on your own, but much more fun with a group of friends (using the built-in voice chat).

l4d2 group combat

Both games are fun (and feature new downloadable content and can use fan-created maps), but if you must choose only one, go with Left 4 Dead 2, which features more firearms, melee weapons, and a better storyline. You can buy the games individually, as a package (for $10 off), or if you want to make sure you have friends to play with, you can buy a four pack of either one (for $20 off) and give the rest as gifts.

Buy Left 4 Dead.

Buy Left 4 Dead 2

But Steam isn’t just a system for Vavle’s own games, they feature a whole slew of Mac compatible software, from the indie World of Goo to the City of Heroes MMO to Civilization V. And best of all, the games are completely cross-platform, which means that once you buy them for Mac, you can play them on a PC, or download them to several computers. All you need is a broadband connection (since you have to download the games rather than buying a DVD) and you’re good to go.

For information on how to make a Steam gift purchase, visit Steam Support.

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