Imagine Doom. Now give it a few more technical gimmicks, a story, puzzles and a side order of dorkiness. You now have Marathon. Marathon is probably the most popular game around the channel, as it’s 2.5D (meaning no computer in use today shouldn’t be able to run it) and it’s very approachable difficulty-wise (as well as providing some fun tricks for higher-skill players to muck around with).
- Platforms: All 3 pc thanks to Aleph One; cross-platform multiplayer. Marathon 2 is available on XBL, but is of course incompatible with the PC versions, which we play.
- Hardware prerequisites: A mouse. The game was designed to work with a keyboard-only setup, but given the judicious use of projectile weapons (and the fact that it’s, well, an FPS) you’re much better off with gaming’s most lauded aiming tool.
- Typical or scheduled playing times: Weekday afternoons and nights
- Organizers/hosts: Illflower and Ponicalica
Installing the game, and connecting to matches
- Download the appropriate Marathon Infinity distribution. If you wish to play the single-player of this series, you may want to download the other packages; or if you’re a neat freak, you want to download the universal distro which allows you to insert whichever installment’s content files within it.
- Go into the Options and set your controls. You’ll probably want Altfire as well as Fire on your mouse, for example. Make sure Enable Crosshair is on in the options; it helps with quite a few weapons.
- Go to Join Network Game. In the “address” field, type in the IP that the game-host provides you. Then click Join. You will see a blank screen with a text box until you connect, at which point you will see the host’s name as well as whomever else is in the game at the moment. The game starts when the host presses Start. (You may type in the text box to chat with other players.)
You have to press Use to respawn and open/close doors. You also have to hold down Use to use health terminals. Apart from that, the three most popular gametypes are as follows:
- Deathmatch (DM): Best score wins. Score is calculated as (Kills) - (Deaths).
- King of the Hill (KOTH): Best score wins. Score is calculated as (seconds spent within the Hill).
- Kill the Man with the Ball (Ball): Best score wins. Score is calculated as (seconds spent holding the Ball). Pressing Fire while holding the Ball will drop it, ceasing to accumulate points but allowing you to defend yourself.
Useful additional info
- Swimming: You sink like a brick in liquids unless you’re holding the Swim button, which makes you “swim” upwards.
- Don’t suicide: As well as the Deathmatch-only concern of “it counts as a death, which costs you a point”, default server rules place a 15 second penalty on suicides. Be extra careful with your explosive weapons.
- Altfires are important: Most weapons have an altfire, or can fire a second copy of the gun by pressing the second trigger (dual wielding). Try both fire buttons on every weapon, perhaps even at the same time. (Note that the Fusion Pistol’s altfire requires a charge before it works - holding down the altfire button until you hear beeping.)
- Reloading: There is no reload button, but you automatically reload when you run out of ammo. It is sometimes advisable to burn through the rest of your clip by shooting at nothing so that you are not stuck reloading in the middle of a fight with a new opponent.
- Airstrafing: When in mid-air, you move with the horizontal speed you left the ground with, with a vector that matches where you were looking at time of launch vs. where you were launched. If you run off a cliff running forward, you will move towards wherever you turn to face, even if you spin your mouse around (which will allow you to draw circles with your body in mid-air). If you strafe off a cliff towards your left, you move left through the air from your perspective no matter where you are pointing mid-air, etc.
- Your speed does not change even if you bump into something. If you ran into an overhead beam while in mid-air, you will immediately resume to move forward once your head drops below the bottom of the beam.
- Your velocity vector changes with weapon recoil. Grenade launches, rocket launches, and explosions will all modify your velocity vector mid-air. You can get some fun recoil boosting done by jumping off cliffs backwards, then shooting rockets downwards as you move through the air.
- Be a jerk in Ball: Closing doors in people’s faces will stop them from following you for a split second. This is important, since you move at a walking pace when holding the ball. Opponents can open it again while it’s closing, but most people don’t think of this. (They probably will now that it’s been mentioned.)
- Weapons spawn quick: Learn weapon locations and feel free to obsessively check them. They spawn a lot faster than ammo does, and some maps have weapons hidden away (like the flechette gun on this one water-map, or the TOZT on the staircase map).
Miscellaneous essential advice
- Try to avoid Barcode. Seriously, that guy will destroy you.