Greatest ever first-person shooter* brought back to life
Halo forebear Marathon is back
Bungie's Marathon series was ground-breaking. Not the first ever first-person shooter, not even on the Mac, but certainly the game that showed there's more to the genre than the 'kill monsters, open doors' gameplay of Doom and its followers.
Marathon was all as much about the story, told not through cut-scenes and dialogue - as Bungie's much better known Halo series would do years later - but through the colony ship Marathon's computer terminals, all linked to one of the ships three AIs.
A pre-Spartan armoured security chief, you alone can rid the colony ship of the strange alien race, the Pfhor, who have invaded it to raid the banks of sleeping colonists.
They weren't brought here by one of the three AIs, which has made a covert deal with one the aliens' slave races, the semi-organic cybernetic S'pht, who hold the key to the computer lifeform's freedom from its human masters and will offer the knowledge in return for being released from their own overlords, were they?
Yes, they were. And guess who has to deal with the Pfhor?
So there are lots of monsters to zap too.
Initially released in 1994, Marathon's code - and that of its sequels, Marathon 2 and the weird, multi-reality Marathon Infinity - went open source in 1999.
The upshot was Aleph One, a project to update the game. Aleph's coders have been working ever since, making numerous releases on the way, aided by Bungie's decision to allow them to use the original game assets.
Now, 12 years on, Aleph One has finally reached the 1.0 milestone. The release sports a new engine, high-res textures derived from the 8-bit originals. Marathon 2 gets the look coded some years back for the Xbox Live version of the game. Disapproving purists will be pleased to hear the first and third games retain their original look.
Only the huge HUD from Marathon, necessary to keep the 3D rendering window as small as possible, has gone.
Best of all, all three games are free, and now run not only on the Mac, but also under Windows and Linux. Download them all from Sourceforge.
Wield superior firepower. Dive into the melee. Endure. ®
*IMHO, of course
A reboot of Marathon...
...should clearly have been called Snickers.
Never knew that title
I was playing Quake, Quake II and Half-Life in those days.
I'll give it a whirl, just to find out how it is.
the test of time
The game was incredibly good fun, back in the day. and the way the story was handed out to you piece by piece created the atmosphere and made it so enjoyable.
i tried Aleph One a few years ago, and it was okay.
Shall be interesting to give it another try now that it's reached a full version number, to see how it compares in these current days of gaming.
People, people, people.
Greatest ever FPS? Well, the only people that still remember it are decent-game-starved Mac users. Yes, it was a welcome departure at the time from kill-imp-get-key-open-door but it's a bit po-faced and the weapons are crap.
First ever FPS? You'll need to look back to MazeWar in the 1970s for that. Multiplayer and everything.
Smells like napalm...tastes like chicken.
Dark and moody corridors, creepy music, stereo sound, dual firing modes, look up/down view, friendly NPCs, swimming/vacuum areas, plus an amazing story. And then there's the multiplayer...
Marathon remains a classic for me and even though I haven't booted up Aleph One for a year since I completed the excellent Rubicon add-on pack, it's good to see the improvements there. Might have to spend some of tonight playing this little lot. Good article