'Marathon' gives video game junkies virtual slaughterfest

By Michael Eilers

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Shamus and I met in a narrow, murky corridor lit by a flickering glow. He looked at me. I looked at him. Then I whipped out a rocket launcher and blew him 20 yards down the hall.

Magically reincarnated a few seconds later, he came charging down the corridor and shredded me with burst of full-auto gunfire from an assault rifle.

Neither one of us will be spending time in jail, the hospital, or in psychoanalysis anytime soon. As of now there are no penalties for virtual slaughter and little lasting effect from the high-explosive rockets. We had temporarily set aside our mortal lives and entered the virtual-reality world of... Marathon.

A three-dimensional video game similar, but far superior to, the infamous DOOM for the PC, Marathon is a stunning simulation of a virtual world stocked with futuristic settings, homicidal, grotesque aliens, and devastating weaponry. With an endless supply of lives, ammo, and alien targets, there are only two rules: shoot to kill, and only the fast survive. Oh, yeah, and the rocket launcher always wins.

With eye-popping visuals and thunderous sound effects, Marathon is probably the best virtual-reality experience available on a personal computer. Unfortunately, the price of admission is quite high: a reasonably fast Macintosh computer is required along with a network of at least two computers (up to eight) for head-to-head games. I had to haul my PowerMac over to Shamus' house for the carnival of violence not something I'm willing to do every weekend.

The game creates an ultra-realistic world with credible physics and gargantuan rooms the size of aircraft hangars, covered with surreally textured surfaces. Played solo, the game becomes a strategy-based firefight through a monstrous spacecraft filled with dimly-lit corridors and constant alien ambushes.

The extreme violence may disturb some viewers, but the really insidious aspect of the game is its ability to turn peaceful, quiet English-major types like myself and Shamus into raving, bloodthirsty monsters. Strap into Marathon, and confront your dark side face-to-face.

"You May Survive" is a regular feature of Thursday's Alternation section, in which Wildcat reporters take a little (virtual, in this case) risk and and brave unusual situations or commit acts that Wildcat readers may or may not want to take part in themselves.

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