Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Marathon - Sunbathing

Another first (or at least one of the first) for Marthon was dual-wielding. And baby, let me tell you that it is fun.

I generally don't go in for first person shooters. It isn't that I dislike the genre totally, it is just that they all feel the same to me after awhile, so I don't want to play too many. Granted, I haven't played many (any?) of the top-tier such as Half-Life, System Shock, or Deus Ex. Still, I enjoy tooling around in well-built first person shooters and can definitely lose myself in them. It is just that the experience can become - unfulfilling. I think it may be something about never seeing my character.

Anyway, I definitely like that Marathon has a sense of exploration and cleverness to it. Doom is great mindless fun, but the level designs are nothing to write home about the and the key/switch puzzles feel perfunctory. Marathon has some great level design. You end up going up and down on various levels and crossing over where you were and looping back on yourself. The automap isn't strictly necessary, but can help a lot. Fortunately, the different areas in a level are noticably different and logically make some sort of sense for the level you are in. Really, I wonder where all this great level design skill went when Bungie made Halo.

The feeling of cleverness (or perhaps more accurately cerebralness) comes from two factors. One is that there are some decent puzzles in the game. Most have to do with switches, but the switches are so much more than door openers. They can activate elevators and other moving platforms and often have to be used in tandem or in the right order to reach the next area. The other aspect comes from the attack and fall back tactics that the game uses. There are no health packs to restore your health. Instead, health is restored at terminals placed on the wall (I guess it recharges the shield energy of your cyber-suit). Because of this, you often find yourself moving forward, defeating a group of enemies, then retreating back to the health terminal. Saving your game is also done at terminals and also encourages that type of gameplay.

I must say, I felt really bad when I got the "bad" ending to The Rose level because too many civilians had died. If I had been more judicious with my saves, I would have attempted it over again. Sadly, my first save from the level was already after a good number had died. Sorry, Bob.

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