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Come And Have A Go...

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Here was the plan. I was going to take a look at Marathon: Durandal, a port of Bungie’s seminal MacOS shooter, and a game which arguably laid the foundations for Halos 1 to 3. Having played the game a little on its original release, I was hoping to compare it with Doom and talk about the way in which Marathon tried to bring more of a cerebral, space opera feel to the FPS. I was keen to discuss innovations like the AI compatriots that the game transported in from time to time, or the use of text screens to reveal a deeper sci-fi back story, or the visual themes it brought in that would later be picked up in the Halo games.

Unfortunately none of this is possible. Here’s why:

First, I pony up the dough and download Durandal from Xbox Live Marketplace. It’s a pretty small download by some of today’s standards, and around ten minutes later I have the game up and running on the console.

First impressions. The game moves really smoothly, but the years have not been kind to Durandal. Even in their new high-definition guises, the architecture is blocky and uninteresting and the textures are plain and a little bit ugly. Your 2D sprite alien antagonists look pretty rough, and they seem to have about four frames of animations for every action. Your default weapon – a pistol – is useless and takes about a decade to kill anything, and the level design seems to make no sense whatsoever. As I hit the second level, I start wondering whether the game was actually that good to begin with. Maybe it’s the level and creature design, maybe it’s just nostalgia talking, but I’m sure Doom has held up better than this.

But as I start pushing myself through the second level, something happens. I start feeling nauseous. Really, really nauseous. I take a break for five minutes to check email and make myself a coffee, but when I come back and start playing the nausea comes on even faster than it did before.

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