Crossover Crash Course

I bought CodeWeaver’s Crossover yesterday in an impulsive moment of “I miss some of my PC games” boredom. Based on open source project WINE, Crossover theoretically lets you play numerous PC games on your Mac without having to boot into a separate Windows installation and all the crap and space that entails (including the requirement for a Windows license, which I have but still.)

First impressions, before I could even get the software, were not positive. The checkout process on the web store required that I create an account (annoying) and kept failing when I would try to create one. I figured it was something NoScript related, even though I was allowing scripting for the site (maybe some cross-domain stuff is going on?) I switched to Safari and it was fine. Bought it, downloaded it.

My first impression of the actual software also wasn’t positive. It looks like this:

Ugly CodeweaversDear Codeweavers, hire a designer.

But I clicked on the “Game Software Installer”, clicked Steam, chose my “bottle” (hire a copy writer too) and it instantly began downloading and installing the necessary components (fonts, flash, directx, the client itself). After a few minutes Steam was running on my Mac. It was surprisingly smooth. There are a few minor quirks with the in-client browser (Steam, for whatever dumb reason, always used Internet Explorer) but it was working well enough to allow me to login to my account and start a download of Left 4 Dead.

No more than thirty minutes later, thank you French broadband, I was up and playing. And playing at a much higher resolution and with more fidelity than on my PC desktop back home. Apart from issues getting the Steam Community functionality working in-game, it worked flawlessly. I managed to get through, and survive, the new “Crash Course” campaign and, last night, get through two whole Versus matches. It’s an enjoyable addition, the perfect length for quick play without the time commitment that the original campaigns require. Why something of this scale wasn’t included from the start, I don’t know., but I’d like to think that Valve has taken user feedback into account for Left 4 Dead 2 and that it will have more of this kind of variety.

Now that I’m out of the console and PC-less gaming ghetto, to a minor degree, I now have one major holiday season release to look forward to: Left 4 Dead 2. It might not be guaranteed to work with Crossover, but considering it’s using the same Source engine I can’t imagine compatibility to break. I’m finally excited about an upcoming game release.

Then I noticed that the Steam Store was detecting my now France-based IP, despite my Canadian credit card, and it was offering me the idiotic European pricing for Left 4 Dead 2. 50% more expensive because my IP happens to be French? My enthusiasm has tapered.

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