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Can you play Windows games on an Intel-based Mac?
Yes. By installing Boot Camp and Windows on an Intel-based Mac, you can boot into Windows and play any Windows game provided that the minimum system requirements are met.
Although Parallels Desktop for Mac 3.0 (and higher) supports DirectX and OpenGL and a number of games have been tested and found to work, VMWare Fusion 1.1 (and higher) supports "select games" and CodeWeavers Crossover Mac supports some games as well, booting directly into Windows with an Intel-based Mac remains the way to obtain the best performance for Windows games. Nevertheless, virtualized solutions also are worthwhile for those with modest performance expectations.
Also see: How does the performance of Parallels Desktop for Mac 5 compare to VMWare Fusion 3? How does the performance compare for productivity applications? How does it compare for games?
If you install Windows and play Windows games while booting Windows on an Intel-based Mac, you can expect performance roughly equivalent to a similarly-equipped Windows PC.
Perhaps one of the more in-depth opinions is from April 7, 2006 and is provided by gaming website 1UP.com. The author covers installation of Windows XP using Boot Camp on a MacBook Pro and chronicles his experience playing Half-Life 2, F.E.A.R, and Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.
The piece should be read in its entirety for the complete perspective provided by the author, but regarding the performance of Half-Life 2, the reviewer notes that:
Half-Life 2 still looks pretty damn nice in 2006, but cranking up the visual feature set to "max" is not recommended for any existing laptop just yet. However, at a more modest 1280x768 pixels with medium polygonal detail, high resolution textures and medium sound quality, the game plays at a decent 20-30 fps. It's hardly perfect, but definitely, satisfyingly playable.
With all settings on medium, F.E.A.R. is absolutely playable. Again, none of the silky-smooth 60 fps that hardware freaks clamor for, but it looks good and plays well even with tons of characters onscreen.
Regarding Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion:
With a decent reduction in settings -- which is to say, a realistic vision of the game -- Oblivion still looks great and is wholly playable.
If you want a Mac, but would like to play Windows games, Apple's Boot Camp makes it easy to install Windows, boot Windows, and play Windows games on Intel-based Macs.