by Chris Barylick
August 29th, 2006
Sometimes a good thing can live forever, despite corporate decisions that may seem to doom it otherwise. For instance, when Bungie broke the hearts of the Mac world with its purchase by Microsoft, Marathon seemed doomed.
And for a while it was.
One of the finest and most original first person shooter titles to grace any platforms, Marathon, Marathon: Durandal and Marathon: Infinity combined cutting edge technologies for the day, amazing graphics, true 3D models and an unbelievably intricate and fun plot line to follow in which the player could be in charge of their own fate or manipulated at any given moment.
With one fiscal arrangement, this seemed to be gone, despite the leaked screenshots of a revised Marathon with upgraded graphics technology and other assorted rumors. The legend that had begun on the Mac and spread to Windows was cut short only to become the basis of the Halo series and some of the best selling games ever made.
Marathon lives again with the help of the Aleph One project and Excalibur: Morgana's Revenge.
Enter the open source community and Bungie's decision to release the Marathon code. The Aleph One project, which made the original trilogy available for download, has supported full development of the games as well as mods, spin-offs and new scenarios. With this has come Excalibur: Morgana's Revenge, a scenario that blends the futuristic world Marathon players are used to with a detailed medieval theme. Beginning in the sick bay of the starship Kronos, players must return to the past via time travel technology and fight what awaits them to unlock additional puzzles.
Where Bungie left off, the developers at the Marathon Map Makers Guild picked up. After more than three years of work, Excalibur: Morgana's Revenge lives up to the legacy established by the original trilogy. Complete with outstanding graphics, top notch sound, cool melee and magic based weaponry, a story line extensive enough for any "FPS-with-a-point" junkie and the rest, the group has done their homework and it shows.
This is a work of love, complete with the style, humor and overall feel the Bungie games were renowned for. And, true to form, cross-platform networking for multiplayer gameplay remains, players entering the host's IP, then settle back to annihilate each other (noticing a SPNKR missile coming at you from across an arena may not be the most encouraging thing in the world, but it built character).
Kirin, the main character of the Excalibur: Morgana's Revenge project by the Marathon Map Makers Guide group.
Excalibur: Morgana's Revenge is an open development project that, like other open source efforts, can be participated in by anyone wishing to add anything to the effort, even it it's just their two cents. The game is available as a 190 megabyte download through sourceforge.net and expands to occupy 237.8 megabytes when expanded. New builds of the scenario are also available for testing and can be found here. For users with slower Internet connections, a CD-ROM of the game can be ordered for $10.00 plus shipping and handling. Excalibur: Morgana's Revenge requires Mac OS X to run.
In other news, the puppy-naming question has been resolved. Despite suggestions of Clarus, the official moniker of "Wilbur" has been chosen. The rest is history.
That wraps it up for this week. As always, if you see anything new, cool or useful in the Mac universe,.
Chris Barylick covers games for The Mac Observer, and has written for Inside Mac Games, MacGamer, UPI, the Washington Post, and other publications.
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