Time wasters: Keep cool with the best summer games for the Mac

Whether you're looking for action, adventure, puzzles, prizes, combat, or just pure chaos the Mac has all the best games you need to keep cool - or heat up -- the summer.

Summertime is great, but sometimes you want to stay in the air-conditioned cool away from the oppressive heat. If you'd rather play on your Mac than suffer in the sun, I've rounded up some fun time wasters for you that will keep you busy. I've run the gamut on prices here, so you should find something you can play regardless of your wallet's thickness.

League of Legends

League of Legends is Riot Games' ridiculously popular Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA). It came out in 2009 and has been growing in popularity ever since then - now millions of gamers play League every day. But up until a few months ago, Mac gamers were left out of the loop unless they resorted to Boot Camp. The Mac version hasn't emerged from beta yet, but that hasn't stopped hordes of Mac players from getting on board with the game.

At its most basic, League of Legends is a real time strategy (RTS) game. Your goal is to control the map by destroying your opponent's Nexus. You do that using one of dozens of different Champions - special characters that lead "minions" - computer-controlled characters that constantly spawn and attack the opposing team. Different play modes and so many other players make sure you'll never get bored.

League is free to download and play - the developer makes money by encouraging players to purchase "Riot Points" which can then be used to customize the game. But you are also able to unlock content by playing well and scoring "Influence Points," which you also use to buy new stuff. So if you're short on funds but long on talent, you can go a long way without spending very much at all.

Don't Starve

Wilson is a "Gentleman Scientist" who finds himself trapped in a wilderness world, the victim of a demonic attack. Wilson has to learn how to exploit the environment of this strange new place, as well as its inhabitants if he wants to get back home.

Your goal as Wilson is simply to survive. To do that, you have to collect items and resources, craft tools, and build structures to help you. You're dropped in the middle of this world with no instructions for how to survive or to leave, so you're on your own.

The game features characters and aren't that wouldn't be out of place in a Tim Burton movie or illustration (the soundtrack is suitably Danny Elfman-like to evoke more of the Burton feel, too). They're all 2D characters, though the world is 3D, and each time you play the game it can be different, since maps are randomly generated. As the developers put it, "At any time you can generate a new living and breathing world that hates you and wants you to die."

Cubemen 2

Riffing on the ever-popular Tower Defense game genre, Cubemen 2 is the followup to 3D Sprockets' first Cubemen game. Use your cubemen to attack your enemies and defend your own territory. Five game modes including Capture the Flag, Territory and Rescue, single player and multiplayer support, and extensive customization thanks to a built-in level editor.

Each cubeman has his own specialized ability - some can block paths to keep the enemies away. Others can lay mines to blow the enemy up when they are in close proximity. Others are charged with lightning. And the levels themselves can sport teleporters, healing stations and other specialized areas.

Gamers not interested in taking on online players can play two different single-player game modes and defensive camapaigns, and those games will be ranked online so you can compare your scores to the best in the world. Also, ridiculously cheap!

Monaco: What's Yours Is Mine

This game is rendered in 2D and has a deliberate 8-bit look about it, but it's not a throwback - this is a thoroughly modern game that can be played either single-player or in co-op mode with up to three other players.

Monaco emphasizes stealth over brute force; you must unlock doors and sneak through without making any sounds or alerting guards who will try to stop you. Eight different characters in your crew provide very unique primary and secondary abilities that will help you with each heist: a locksmith, a pickpocket, a "Cleaner" who can knock out enemies and more.

Monaco's been lauded for years, even though the game only came out in April (the Mac version only came out this week): it was the recipient of the grand prize in the 2010 GDC Independent Games Festival awards.

Borderlands 2

I've written about Borderlands 2 before, so if I'm starting to sound repetitious, I'm sorry. But this shooter continues to rank very high on my list of must-have games. First of all, it's a first-person shooter, and new ones aren't released on the Mac every day. Secondly, it has these great RPG elements that enable you to level up and acquire one of the widest assortment of weapons ever seen in a game.

And once you get through the single-player campaign, there's a slew of people playing online that will extend the fun for you indefinitely. Add to that that Gearbox (and Mac developer Aspyr) has been releasing a steady stream of Downloadable Content (DLC) to extend gameplay further, and it adds up to just awesome fun on your Mac.

Just be warned that the Mac and PC versions occasionally break compatibility with one another, typically when Gearbox offers a new patch. Aspyr's diligent about updating its Mac release to keep the two synced, however.

Fields of War

Fields of War is a massively multiplayer third-person shooter in which you pilot a mech and try to wrest territorial control from other players. It's team-focused and it divides players into two factions: North and South. It's currently in beta development and it's available through somewhat limited means (only Gamersgate.com and Macgamestore.com had it for sale as I wrote this), but it's very promising and already very cool.

Up to 200 players compete for control, with computer-controlled bots stepping in when there aren't enough players. Your goal is to capture the other team's "Core." Cores form a network that affects the player faction's control of the land, and there are special Cores that, when captured, give your team a skill like revealing all enemy positions, hastening a fast retreat, replenish ammo, and more.

Five mech classes each provide different capabilities like artillery, demolition, field repairs, scouting, and defense. What's more, a customization system lets you paint your mech any way you want, using a system that will definitely appeal to fans of tabletop gaming like Warhammer 40K. If you want to get in on the ground floor of a fun MMO that runs on Mac, Windows and Linux, check it out.

There are some fun games here, but I've bound to have forgotten or overlooked some titles that people will want to draw attention to. What games are you playing on your Mac right now, and how are you beating the heat? Let me know in the comments!