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Classic first-person shooter game for the Macintosh. Despite 2d graphics that these days seem cartoonish and only pseudo-3D geometry, had such superb gameplay (and a killer story) that people still play it many years later.

The Marathon series of games was created by Bungie Software Products Corporation, and were first-person shooter type (FPS), with both single- and multiplayer modes. Starting with the original in 1994, the series continued with Marathon 2: Durandal and concluded (perhaps) with Marathon Infinity in 1996.

Marathon distinguished itself in revolutionary ways: furious gameplay in real time over a local network (LAN). Intricate pseudo-3D level architectures. Superbly-realized active-panning stereo sound. Saveable recordings of games played. A real-time motion sensor that distinguishes friend from foe behind walls and around corners. Above all, a vast and erudite storyline that unfolded progressively throughout the series and alternately informed, amused and alarmed the player advancing through the scenario.

Well OK, the storyline is unmatched, but the best thing about Marathon was and is the gameplay. Few other FPSes (and there are now many) are as fun to play. Some reasons might include responsiveness, variety, and balance.

Responsiveness is the speed with which the game reacts to the player's control input—if it's fast, your character is nimble and can do acrobatic maneuvers like dodging a crossfire, or using recoil to jump to otherwise inaccessible places. If it's slow you lumber around like, well, a machine. Marathon is fast.

A sorry number of games consist of nothing more than "kill everything that moves, find the hidden doors/ keys/ teleport, move on to the next level, repeat." Ad nauseam. Sorry, but in my book the only one where that was still fun was Doom. Variety is a Good Thing, and Bungie made Marathon with an extensible architecture that allows players to design their own maps and physics, limited only by imagination and the game engine itself. Hundreds of these third-party levels are available on the Internet, some of them as good as the originals.

Fanatical attention to detail and balance are Bungie hallmarks. Backgammon and bridge have excellent balance, chess has superb balance, and Bungie's games have balance. In FPS terms, that means scenarios and maps are designed so their geometry and physics allow you to at least play even if you're a novice with ten thumbs, dealing with computer enemies by turning down the difficulty setting. But as you learn how to move, and to read the motion sensor, and how to shoot, and eventually, how to shoot while running backwards watching the motion sensor, you become aware that there are things you can do, places you can go, that you couldn't before. In other words, Marathon handsomely rewards skill improvement. It doesn't flatten out as you get better, it opens up. That's how it differs from the "clear room, find door, next room" variety of game...

Marathon Infinity was the third and final game in Bungie's Marathon trilogy of first-person shooter games. The title is a dual reference: first, the time-looping nature of the game's story, and second, the included game development tools.

Marathon Infinity uses the same gaming engine as its predecessor, Marathon 2: Durandal, so to make up the difference Bungie included their map-making tool (Forge) and their shape/sound/weapon creation tool (Anvil) on the CD-ROM along with the game. Similar tools had been created by ambitious fans before this time, but Bungie's "official" tools made it possible for anyone and everyone to extend the Marathon game "infinitely". Several new campaigns based on the Marathon universe have already been produced, and fans are still doing so. (These campaigns will be, or should be, compatible with the open-source Marathon: Aleph One engine currently under development by fans.)

The story for this game is very confusing, compared to the ones for Marathon and Marathon 2: Durandal, and the manual for the game is needed to help provide some insight. At the end of the second game, the Pfhor have been routed by Durandal and have deployed a weapon intended only as a last resort, which causes the sun of the S'pht homeworld Lh'owon to go nova. But back when Lh'owon was first colonized, a race of immortal and chaotic creatures named W'rkncacnter were imprisoned in that star. As it goes nova, the W'rkncacnter are released, unleashing chaos and destabilizing reality as they emerge.

The result is that you, the durable hero of the Marathon series, are cast back in time and placed under the manipulations of Tycho, Durandal's adversary, shortly before Marathon 2: Durandal begins. Throughout the game you're bounced around between Tycho, Durandal, the Pfhor, and the strange S'pht AI whom Durandal dubbed Thoth, forced to obey the desires of whomever's in charge at the moment. Your ultimate goal is to prevent the W'rkncacnter from escaping the early nova, and in the meantime you gain some very interesting insight as to what happened during Marathon 2: Durandal that Durandal didn't or couldn't tell you.

Like the other Marathon games, the story unfolds in a series of computer terminals placed throughout the levels; however, it's rather difficult to read it outside of the context of the game. A large part of the game is deliberately nonlinear, and you can skip entire levels or loop back through old ones if you locate certain terminals. Second, much of it reads as oblique metaphor, which looks like nothing more than obscure nonsense until you've played the game through about three times.

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