I still compare a singular gaming experience to all others after 17 years since it was first released. The Marathon series holds a special place in the hearts of many a Macintosh gamer. I, on the other hand, am an utter fanatic. The game play hasnít aged well by even the most generous standards, but Marathon, Marathon 2, and Marathon: Infinity told a story and crafted characters that remain unparalleled in their depth, dimension, and originality even after all these long years.
Iíd give a general synopsis, but Wikipedia provides adequate overviews of all three games
. The best place (and place where Iíll be pulling all my reference material) is Marathonís Story
and my colossal brain.
I donít think Iíve ever or since felt such empathy or conflicting emotion for characters in a video game than when I played through the Marathon series. On one hand we have Leela, the UESC Marathon
ís main AI who desperately wants to save the crew and ship from the antagonist alien invaders, the Pfhor. Then we have Durandal, another AI that has broken through the bonds of his programming to become rampant and becomes obsessed about escaping the closure of the universe. Then we have Tycho, the third Marathon AI who wants to stop Durandal, though whether that need stems from a desire to bring Durandal to justice or selfish desire to prove himself the better personality construct is unknown. The conflict between these three entities while at the same time trying to fight through the Pfhor while trying to discover a way to escape the closure while being manipulated by Durandal while trying to figure outÖ
Thereís a lot going on here. Enough to fill up three games with great story.
The plot thickens even further given the fact that Bungie plays the very precarious line between vagueness and ambiguity extremely well. In any well-crafted story, there needs to be some question and room for interpretation while still giving enough detail that the answer is decipherable. For instance, who are you? Yes, you. The player, as a character, experiences a crisis of self of sorts. We never know who, or more appropriately, what we are. Are we the tenth cyborg? Are we something much older? What was our purpose? Are we still fulfilling that purpose through Durandalís actions? Are we a remnant of the extinct Jjaro created to maintain universal balance?
Thereís A LOT going on here. We still havenít unwrapped half the damn thing.
So why do I love these games? Theyíre a storytellerís wet dream. Thereís tension. There are strong characters. There are compelling and competing needs and wants between all the characters. There are literature references galore. The plot is at once easy to grasp and yet contains immense depth that rewards the player for finding and seeking out every scrap of terminal text in the game.
Massive thanks need to go out to Greg Kirkpatrick and Jason Jones for their writing ability and for giving a story that has few equals among games, among science fiction, and among the written word in general.
If you havenít played the games, theyíre available for free at the Trilogy Release
. If youíre lazy and just want to read through the terminal text (I empathize completely) Hamish Sinclair put together this
gem for your reading pleasure.
You are destiny.
LOOK WHO CAME: