An Intro Guide to Marathon

This is a spoiler-free guide for people who wish to check out the Marathon trilogy, a series of FPS developed and published by Bungie in the mid-90s. Since we are apparently getting a new PVP-focused Marathon, I thought I would write up this intro for people who want to check out the original trilogy and see why it has so many fans even decades later. The Marathon trilogy is a sci-fi FPS series that starts with you playing a security officer trying to repel an alien invasion of your colony ship. The three games, Marathon, Marathon: Durandal, and Marathon: Infinity, were released in 1994, 1995, and 1996 respectively. With the exception of Durandal, the Marathon games were exclusive to the Macintosh. Due to it being technically superior to the Doom engine and the Macintosh being known as a platform with less games, this was seen as a big win for users of the platform and partially why it has a devoted fan base to this day.

screenshot from marathon of guy running from a creature shooting lasers and someone with a flamethrower

Why Should I Play It?

If you’re a fan of Bungie or older FPS, I would strongly recommend this game. The comic book-like artwork for all the characters is very charming, the gameplay mostly holds up, and Bungie fans will enjoy the story told in these games, which was a novel feature for FPS during this time.

How Do I Get Started?

Luckily it’s very easy to get these games for free. In 2005, Bungie said it was ok to freely distribute these games and the open source engine Aleph One makes these games playable on Windows, Mac, and Linux. You can download all three games here and it’s very easy to install the games and get them running.

Tips for Playing Marathon

There‚Äôs a couple things to keep in mind while playing the game that will help you from getting frustrated since it is an older FPS and doesn’t follow all the FPS conventions that we know today. First, please look at the keyboard mapping in options before playing. Some of the key mappings are a little odd and you might want to change them. Using terminals, doors, and switches is essential to completing the game and understanding the plot, and by default it’s at the Tab key. The game also relies on Save Terminals for saving your game, so you are unable to save at anytime through options. Terminals are also used for other things like advancing the plot and restoring health. At the bottom of your screen are two bars, a red health bar and a blue oxygen bar. At parts of the game you have to travel through areas with no oxygen and you will have to quickly move through them as your bar depletes. Hopefully knowing these quirks ahead of time makes it easier to get into, because it’s a fascinating trilogy and I think Bungie fans who like retro games will enjoy it.

2 thoughts on “An Intro Guide to Marathon

  1. Another excellent intro which spurred me to give another try to a game I previously shunned, good job!

    I am on level 3 and extremely low on ammo, quite brutal.

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