Author: Brad Oliver
Mike: We’ve reviewed some great shareware games in these pages before, but one type of game you rarely see a shareware developer write is a first-person shooter. This month, however, we review Heretic PPC, a freeware port of the PC game that never made it to the Mac.
Adam: It’s rare that you see a shareware developer port a game to the Mac, and even rarer to make it free. So when Mike suggested Heretic PPC, I thought we’d give it a try. While it didn’t fully work as advertised, it’s a great gesture to the Mac community. Is there a plot/storyline to this game, Mike?
Mike: The included Read Me file didn’t say much: “The object of this game is simple–shoot stuff and don’t get killed.” Like most first-person shooters of its time, Heretic relied more on trigger-finger reflexes and less on plot. The game, and its sequel, Hexen, was released by id Software in between its smash hits, Doom and Quake, and it’s set in a medieval setting rather than a futuristic, sci-fi one.
Adam: When Heretic PPC is first launched, it almost looks like it crashed. Your screen goes black and white, flashes a few times, and then a progress bar comes up to show the loading sequence. Once it’s loaded, you navigate with the arrow keys through the various options and into the game play.
Mike: Anyone who’s ever played Doom or another of id’s shoot-em-up titles will be right at home with the menu navigation and game play. It’s not always true to the Mac interface, and some commands are a little counter-intuitive, but what would you expect from a Windows port?
Adam: There are options for pixel doubling and tripling, but they looked horrible on my 1024×768 screen. And even though music was listed as an option, it failed to be produced on my PowerBook.
Mike: Since my screen has a maximum resolution of 800×600, I didn’t try the pixel doubling option, and kept the game’s resolution at its standard 640×480. The graphics looked dated, but acceptable at that resolution. Unfortunately, although I tried all of the tips listed in the Read Me, I couldn’t get any music while I was played, either.
Adam: One good thing is that it did render well on my PowerBook G3/250 (WallStreet) with the ATI Rage LT graphics chipset. However, it crashed numerous times throughout game play, so I had a tough time keeping interest in the game long enough to give it a fair review.
Mike: Excuse me while I express my jealousy at the fact that Adam *has* an ATI chipset in his PowerBook… OK, with that over, I can say that I never experienced the crashes that Adam did, for unknown reasons. I can attest that the game plays, well, like a first person shooter. You run around an intricate maze, searching for the exit, and killing all of the monsters in your way with your magic scepter. It doesn’t have the plot depth of Marathon, the graphics or Unreal, or the pure adrenaline rush of Quake II, but you don’t have to lay down a couple of twenty dollar bills to play it, either.
Heretic PPC requires a PowerPC processor and System 7.5 or later. You can download Heretic PPC from Download.com http://www.download.com or any other Macintosh shareware archive.
Adam: All-in-all, a freeware port of Heretic is a wonderful gesture towards Mac users, and for that reason, we can cautiously recommend it. However, if you have the crashes that I experienced, delete it. You’ll get more excitement out of seeing the trash can empty than you will playing the game.
Mike: Well put, Adam. I applaud Brad Oliver for making Heretic available to Mac users, but I hope that there will be an updated version in the near future that fixes a few bugs. If that happens, he will really have done Mac gamers a great service. Cautiously recommended by The Game Guys.