Review by ThatGuyfromDOOM
"While different, fun and smart, Durandal isn't the best around, but it remains interesting nonethless"
Marathon was the MAC users Doom back in the mid 90s and because of that, it was under looked and forgotten very quickly. However, the game's cult following was enough to produce 3 games and ultimately make a watermark for itself in the history of the shooter genre (although a very small one). Another interesting note would be that Marathon was developed and birthed by the now well known Bungie Studios, acclaimed developer of the Halo franchise, so if you have played any of the Halo titles before tapping into this reborn cult classic, you may be able to sense a few things that where further expounded on in the later sci-fi saga. Anyway, Marathon: Durandal for the Xbox Live Arcade, is a HD remake of the second game in the trilogy (why they skipped the first, is odd, but almost no one will figure). If you've played DOOM, Wolfenstein and or Blood or even Duke Nukem, you'll find some sort of familiar turf here.
Game play: The Game play is extremely similar to that of those afore mentioned. You navigate tight corridors and solve simple unlock this gate/door/portal to the next level. There are weapons and enemies just like any other. Simple load outs include Shotguns, Handguns, a Flamethrower, an assault Rifle and even a fusion pistol. These weapons are all pretty cool but nothing new and there are only a handful of them, same goes for the typical enemies that all seem to be exact replicas of Doom's but rather rebuilt in a science fiction over coating. That's not to say the basic game play is broken or far removed, it's competent and keeps the hardcore fans of old DOS shooters (much like myself) happy, but it's been done better. But Marathon had (and still has) its own unique features. For one, this is the thinking mans Doom. What I mean by that is that to easily understand the goals you have in the game and or where to go and what to do, you will have to read some text in these kind of cool pseudo monitors that look very Tron like. It's different but kind of lame too, unless of course you're into that kind of thing or you have way too much free time. The levels are very detailed and look very different from one another (this was the best part of Durandal for me) and the design in general is pretty cool. It's like Halo and Quake melded together. Indeed later levels become massive and confusing; it's nothing new for these styles of games. It's different but still comes off as a rip-off that tried to hard.
The single player was very long (which was a pleasant surprise) offering a fat 9 hours or so of gaming, and can also be conquered with a friend via Co-op. It WAS lacking in personality, feeling all too spacey at times, but the awesome levels, unique objectives and interesting arsenal kept it sort of compelling in a strange way. It was no Doom, but it was pretty neat to say the least. One of the other parts of the single player package is the fast paced survival mode which was the granddaddy of Horde mode. Enemies attack in waves which are pretty cool and within 4 or 5 minutes you are overwhelmed by up to 40 enemies on screen at any given time. It's a great distraction and add's a little something extra for when you don't feel like getting lost in the gigantic single player levels. The same can be said about Durandal's Multiplayer component which has some neat-o maps and quite a few customization options for them all. It's actually a lot for 10 bucks.
Visually this is a true HD remake. Marathon Durandal has never looked so clean. This is more than an HD upscale. Where talking full texture and color re-work and it looks fantastic. Running at an almost motion sickness inducing floating 60 FPS this game actually has it's own unique look because of the hyper sharp but old school graphics. It's actually kind of strange so download the trial to ensure that you don't get motion sickness from it. It's actually very pretty and I liked it. The 2D sprites also look fantastic and much higher res than the original title.
Overall it's a fun and very unique package that also serves as a chance for true shooter fans that never touched Bungie's original FPSer foray, a chance to discover a new and often fun and smart 3D old school shooter. Yes, it's no Doom and you should always rely on Doom or Duke before you pay for this one, but if you can't get enough of those, I feel that 800 points is a fine asking price for this game, and that it's worth a play if you really want it.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Originally Posted: 08/17/09
Game Release: Marathon: Durandal (US, 08/01/07)
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