Here was the plan. I was going to take a look at Marathon: Durandal, a port of Bungieâ€™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. Hereâ€™s why:
First, I pony up the dough and download Durandal from Xbox Live Marketplace. Itâ€™s a pretty small download by some of todayâ€™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 â€“ a pistol â€“ 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 itâ€™s the level and creature design, maybe itâ€™s just nostalgia talking, but Iâ€™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.