TUAW's Hands on with CrossOver Games
- Registration freeze!
Not a good sign. When I first registered CrossOver Games, it actually froze for me. Never good when a piece of software freezes up on registration.
- The Home Screen
This is the base screen of CrossOver Games. You can choose to either install a new game, or run one of the games that's already been installed. You can also manage your "bottles," which are little Windows environments that CrossOver places all the applications in.
- Installing Guild Wars
First, I figured I'd try installing one of the default games that comes with the CrossOver Games installation, Guild Wars. This game is rated Silver on their compatibility list, and a version of the client is included with the software, so it's pretty much the easiest kind of game to install under CrossOver -- just click it and hit install.
- It worked!
And voila, CrossOver Games began to install Guild Wars for me. While it was installing all of the Windows fonts and the Guild Wars assets, I read up a little bit on bottles in the help.
- Downloading the GW client
After the regular Windows files were installed, CrossOver downloaded the latest GW client and installed it. Because GW is an MMO, I didn't really need the disc (though I have one) -- instead, game access is controlled through a paid account. Since I already have one (I have played the game on Windows before), I didn't actually need to activate the game on this installation for this client.
- Windows Installation
Once the actual client was downloaded, the Windows installation clicked in, and CrossOver worked just as expected: I had a Windows window sitting right there on my Leopard desktop. Guild Wars installed without a problem. Next up: I get to play!
- Playing Windows games on the Mac!
Yes, once Guild Wars finished installing, I got it to work just fine. I was on my Mac Mini, so the framerate wasn't great, but by dropping down to a middling resolution and keeping the textures low, I was definitely about to get the game playable and working just fine.
- A few glitches
There were a few gameplay glitches -- at one point, my mouse (not a standard Mac mouse, maybe that had something to do with it) twitched almost uncontrollably, which made it hard to select small menu items (though I never had a problem with the big skill buttons). But otherwise, it worked pretty well. Ideally, of course, I'd be playing this on my lightning-fast PC at the highest resolutions. But if a Mac was all you had handy, and you just had to play your Guild Wars character, you could definitely do it competently with CrossOver Games.
- Trouble in gameland!
Unfortunately, while the game worked fine, CrossOver itself did not. Even while I was playing the game, the app itself was still stuck on installing. I had to eventually "Force Installer Completion" just to quit out. And even that didn't solve my problems...
- Shutting down... someday
After I was all done playing Guild Wars, CrossOver had trouble both shutting the game down and shutting itself down -- it froze on this screen for me and I had to force quit the application. Not smooth at all. And maybe that caused the next problem for me...
- Where's my game?
So I'd already installed and played Guild Wars, and yet when I started up CrossOver Games a second time and went to see my installed games (where Guild Wars should had been), it wasn't there. The app said I had nothing installed, despite the fact that I'd been killing monsters just minutes beforehand. Eventually I had to go back to the install screen, select Guild Wars to install, and once it got back into the Windows environment, the game said it had already been installed and asked me if I'd like to play. Which works -- I was able to eventually get back into the game by trying to reinstall it -- but that's hardly easy or simple. And I had the same problems on shutting down and restarting the game. In short, the game is perfectly playable. But using the app to actually get to the game caused me many more problems. Still, I wasn't done testing CrossOver yet.
- A new challenger appears!
Installing a game like Guild Wars is easy for CrossOver -- all they have to do is download the latest client. But what about a game that doesn't come with the default installer? I grabbed my copy of Civilization 4 for Windows (great game!) and stuck the CD in my mini's SuperDrive to see if CrossOver could cut it. I went through the Installer screen as usual, and chose Advanced Install to put a program in that's not in their normal list.
- DirectX in OS X
After creating a new bottle for Civ, CrossOver started the game's installation under a Windows virtualization, which then asked me to install DirectX. I accepted, and as the CD whirred away in the mini, DirectX installed in my OS X (and I have to admit, I felt a little dirty about it). I should note, too, at this point, that Civilization 4 is on CrossOver's compatibility list as a "Bronze" title -- it is supported, but it's not supposed to work as well as a silver game like Guild Wars.
- Yes please!
After DirectX installed, the Civ installer came back up and offered me an installation to the C: drive (heh, silly computers, they're so easy to fool). I said yes, please! Go for it!
- Installation continues!
Not sure why I took this screenshot, but the Civ installation went through without a problem. I believe I was cooking dinner at this point -- you can imagine me making some fettucini alfredo in the background.
- Installation finished.... and?
Installation of Civ finished up, and this time, unlike Guild Wars, the installer knew it and finished up by itself. Unfortunately, it was too soon to celebrate...
- But still no game!
Yes, even though the installation of Civ finished perfectly, when I went back to the main CrossOver screen, the app still claimed I hadn't installed any programs at all! Where's my Civ?!
- Close but no Civ
I decided to pull the old Guild Wars trick -- I went back through installation up until the point where the Windows screen popped up, and sure enough, just as it would on a Windows computer, the game gave me the option to "play," rather than the "install." However, when I clicked play, nothing at all happened that I could see. No Civ, no drive running, nothing appeared at all. Definitely no game.
- I want my C-I-V
I did a little searching through the options, because at this point, I really did want to play Civ. I cleared and rebuilt CrossOver Games' Program menu, but still nothing. I tried opening up the app's package to see what was in there, but found nothing of use. Eventually I chose Manage bottles to see if I could find the Civ application, and I eventually did -- right there on my HD was the Civ installation. However, when I double clicked it to run, still nothing at all. I never got Civ to run at all, either by launching it via Finder or trying to get it running through CrossOver. Maybe if I was using a faster Mac, I would have had better luck, but in my experience, that's pretty poor for a "bronze" title to not show up at all. Perhaps I did something wrong in installing, but I followed all the steps and directions given to me. I still wasn't done with CrossOver Games yet, though...
- Afraid of F.E.A.R.
Note: This was completely unnecessary and in no way should be seen as an evaluation of the product's performance. Just to see how good CrossOver's Windows compatability was beyond their supported lists, I decided to try installing an unsupported program, F.E.A.R. for the PC. Unfortunately, while it did recognize the Installer as a Windows program, this white screen was as far as they got -- I let it sit like this for a few hours, just to make sure it wasn't taking its sweet time, but I didn't even get a splash screen for F.E.A.R. to show up. Again, this program was unsupported, so unlike Guild Wars and Civ I didn't expect it to work. But it didn't at all, which means that if the game you want to play isn't on CrossOver's list, you're probably just going to have to play it on Windows or a console.
- The End
So: Guild Wars installed and was playable, but the CrossOver app itself had problems installing and recognizing the client. Civilization 4 installed just fine, but didn't run for me at all, and the app didn't recognize the installation of that one either, even though I was able to find it in Finder. And F.E.A.R., an unsupported program, didn't work at all -- expected, but a little disappointing. In short, if you want to use CrossOver Games, it's best to use it with an application that's supported directly with the client (fortunately, this includes all the Steam games, so you've got a nice selection there). If you want to play a game that's not included with the client, or is completely unsupported by CrossOver, you're better off switching over to Boot Camp or just playing on a PC or console.