Review by Stejpan
"Who's your daddy, Master Chief?"
Long before Microsoft had bought them out before the release of Halo, Bungie were a relatively small developer who had gained a loyal fanbase of Mac gamers with classics such as Pathway to darkness. The original Marathon was a sci-fi twist of DOOM - taking place on the Space ship Marathon. You took the role of a MLJNOR-suited security guard and travelled the ship while blasting away at the Phor menace.
In Marathon 2, you have been kidnapped by the AI Durandal and teleported to Lho'won, where you must liberate the Spht from the Phor menace. The story and missions of the game is conveyed through data found in computer terminals.
The games is back from the days when PC games were much simpler. There really isn't any introduction apart from the title and chapter opening screens. The games opening is quite nice to say the least.
The graphics were pretty good for their time. The 3D world gives a nice impression of a futuristic city in a distant galaxy. There's plenty of texture variety, and the 2D character sprites are A+. Despite how 2D they are, there are times where you will be spooked by an ambush of enemies.
The game is a first person shooter similar to DOOM. You have a variety of weapons at your disposal including pistols, machine-guns, and the SPNKR. Some weapons have a dual use function and you will need to reload clips after emptying your weapons, better than the endless clips of DOOM.
While it's a shooter, there are often puzzles to solve and mission objectives to accomplish in each phase which makes it more than just a mindless shooter. The game has a dark and isolated atmosphere at times, as you travel alone while keeping an eye out for the Phor. There are some rare instances where you get to fight alongside allies, but they teleport away after the battle instead of tagging along.
The game features a multiplayer experience just as satisfying as DOOM, but you'd be lucky finding anyone to play against these days.
The controls are rather precise, but you can reconfigure them to your liking. Keyboard is all you use here pretty much.
The game only features a song during the intro/menu screens, and it's an excellent space/techno song by the Power of Seven.
The game is full of great ambient sounds that suit the location including blowing winds and train sounds. The main character voice of Doug Zartman is a bit of a laugh, the death cries is funny.
The game will keep you going until you finish it, and the multiplayer was quite addictive at the time.
A classic gem from Bungie. Halo gamers will find some of the similarities amusing, as the Marathon series is pretty much the spiritual predecessor of Halo. If you are going to play this game, I'd highly recommend using the Aleph-One port which allows the game to run better on newer computers, and adds OpenGL support and allows for Mouse aiming.
The best source for all things Marathon are at http://marathon.bungie.org/
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 07/27/05
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