Marathon: Infinity Examined



Despair
Rage
Envy
Aye
Mak
Sicur

Play Marathon:

Marathon Story Page:

Additional voice work provided by:
Maverick (Durandal):

Speedy DTM (Tycho):

Civvie11 (Admira T’fear):

Raycevick (A Hero):

CaptainCiph3r (Blake):

Bugga017 (S’Pht/Thoth):

CrazyEyedMustafa (Hangar96)

#Marathon #Bungie

EEGG: Infinity has many faces, I see them all tonight. -MJK

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34 thoughts on “Marathon: Infinity Examined”

  1. This has been a great series, and the timeline interpretation presented here makes a lot of sense! I was curious what your thoughts were on the 3rd party scenarios that followed. IMO, Rubicon definitely feels like a true sequel, and the additions in Rubicon X are stellar. Tempus Irae and Eternal were frustrating, yes (and Irae's hidden bonus level is one things most gamers would be shocked to learn of, I figure.) EVIL really amped up the horror succesfully. I'm sure I'm forgetting some but those are the whole game conversions that I played.

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  2. I'm curious, would you consider the main event of Infinity to be an alternate timeline version of the Security Officer, or that the Security Officer was pulled to THAT timeline by Durandal/Thoth because he's so efficient at getting shit done?

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  3. So, he's burdened with countless collections of memories that aren't his while forced to fight incredibly harrowing, extremely perilous, rabidly intense hell-storms of battles that would cause a normal human being's veins to pop with the exuberant amount of adrenaline that would be coursing through them. And he has to do this again, and again, and again without end, throughout the infinity of time and space, constantly at full speed.

    Sounds like a MARATHON to me.

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  4. Why am I only now just discovering you and your videos? I have played the Trilogy to death since my childhood as well as all the good community scenarios. Thanks for breaking it down for everyone else, better than I ever could!

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  5. Thank you for this. Marathon trilogy was among the most formatively important games I played when I was a kid. I used to make custom maps to M2 and all other kinds of custom content as well.

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  6. What's your support for the idea that the white-text messages (eg at the end of the first level) are from the combined Durandal/Thoth entity? My interpretation, supported by the end screen in which Durandal seems to acknowledge that the player is more powerful than Durandal could imagine, is that these messages are part of the dreamscape. Either the player is talking to his subconcious, or perhaps communing with the jjarro technology parts of his brain. (See the excellent analysis of the battleroid phenomena in your M1 video, and the "You" page on the marathon story site.)
    This interpretation seems to color your portrayal of the rest of the timeline hopping. Around 12:30 you say that the security officer making decisions is out of character, but I think it's actually character *development*, as the security officer is begining to make good use of his powers. He helps Durandal and the Humans in M2, which gets a bad ending. So he takes the most obvious opposite course of action, helping Tycho and the Pfhor against Durandal and the Humans. This also leads to a bad ending. When he "returns" to the pfhor timeline as you put it, he's actually exploring timelines with more nuance. What you dismiss as "hokey bullshit" is the most important part of the security officer's story: learning to use his superpower.
    Besides that nitpick, though, I want to say that I love your video series. You managed to condense an incredibly convoluted 25 years of story into some very concise and well-supported videos, without missing any of the important details. Well done.

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  7. I have a major point of contention with your video

    In your video you make the assertion that 'Super Durandal' the merger of Thoth and Durandal become a 'godlike being', however I know of nothing in the games that supports this theory of yours, what exactly are you basing the fact that this entity suddenly has 'Jjaro like power' based on this merger?

    Meanwhile contrast to the fact that it is strongly hinted that the player character is implanted with Jjaro technology, and it makes more sense that it is the player doing the timeline jumps. Near as I can tell the only thing you are basing your idea on that Super Durandal is responsible for the timeline jumps is the same symbols at the start of the game at Ne Cede Malis. I certainly agree that the very same symbols of Thoth/Durandal being there is highly intriguing, but it hardly is proof that somehow that the two merging gave them incredible power.

    Afterall, as far as we know Thoth is merely a S'pht AI, not a Jjaro one, nor does it even make logical sense that human AI + S'pht/Jjaro AI suddenly = omniscient entity as you describe it.

    I'm not really doing a good job of explaining my point of view, but basically I'm saying, how exactly are you coming to this conclusion? What are you basing it off of beyond just the fact that the entity is apparently at Ne Cede Malis? I'm not seeing enough evidence to support your theory.

    Other minor nitpick is your claim that the player character has no emotions beyond wanting to kill things, the problem with that is that the Marathon 1 Manual explicitly does give the PC some characterizations, so it seems hard to say that the security officer has no motivations beyond the player's motivations.

    Other than that, I will say I DO like your three timelines theory, as that makes more sense and follows coherently, the only issue I have is you stating that the large object folding into space wasn't the S'pht'Kr doesn't necessarily add up because just because you as the PC didn't personally see them doesn't mean they aren't there.

    That said, great video, and what I've used to try and convince people to play the damn trilogy because goddamn I have so many friends I've tried to get to TRY the games, but they won't do it despite them being free

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  8. Anyone know what happenned to Greg Kirkpatrick? If he ever wrote anything else I can't imagine what it's like

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  9. Just wanted to say as a fan of your earlier work, thank you for explaining the story of this game. Ill admit i was utterly lost playing this the first time as the plot is so complex and i was only 15. I know the sort of work that goes into making these sorts of videos as im a (much) smaller creator myself. I look forward to your future videos.

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  10. Absolutely stupendous work mate. This really, really felt like the closing of the Marathon saga so many years later.

    These documentaries really felt like the much needed closure, and the touch of finishing with the story of the cyborg and player isnjust insane. The brilliancy in the interpertation of the story is an amazing work. It feels like I am closing the book in the Marathon lore, and as a long time player, as much as I wish there was more, this just made me wish they never re-touch it and leave it as is.

    May Greg carry the full knowledge with him like the marine carried Durandal’s core.

    Thanks!

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  11. Now I want to see you examine Myth or Oni, dude. The meta analysis of Bungie cucking Apple to work for Bill Gates would be an interesting series to watch.

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  12. this series changed my entire outlook when it comes to both sci-fi and gaming. since i'm crazy about both i'd say that these games has changed my life. i do however feel that marathon is stronger than both it's sequels.

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  13. I think Greg Kirkpatrick is a precursor of Yoko Taro. Many themes, the philosophical, literary & psychological references, the meta-narrative, some of the writing in the Marathon trilogy and the usage of alternate timelines in Infinity remind me of the Drakengard & NieR saga. The only other first person shooter that ever gave me those things is EYE Divine Cybermancy, by Streum On.

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  14. No explanation on how Eternal is awful boring dreck? Okay. Great deconstruction of Infinity's plot.

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  15. Ahh, I've been waiting for this video to come out. I remember originally playing M1 and M2 after I found out about them, being a fan of Bungie through Halo, and not thinking much of them beyond "ha, cool, it was Halo before Halo". I then tried Marathon Infinity for like 10 minutes, which was mostly spent being lost on the first level and wondering why everything got so creepy all of a sudden. Didn't go back to these games until a few years later, played all three, and it became one of my most incredible gameplay experiences of all time. I couldn't believe something so simple, something that otherwise aged a bit poorly, could achieve so much with so little. Better yet, it's kind of painful to then live with the knowledge that these same people went on to make both Destiny games, which feel like even more of an embarrassment now (it also makes the final line of the end screen of Marathon Infinity that much more ironic).

    That moment Durandal went "thank you, old friend" hit me so hard — and this was just a weird 90s game that had nothing but trippy 2D sprites and AIs yelling at you through text terminals. After all of his arrogant rambling in the previous games, and even in parts of Infinity, and now as he finally sees things slipping out of his control, you come along as his final hope. This and so many other moments in Infinity's story elevate it far beyond most of its peers. It achieves what so many weird "art games" tried to do, but only ended up being pretentious, not to mention still offers fun FPS gameplay.

    All that said, I kind of disagree with your theory about Infinity's story, though it's worth noting that so much of that game is open-ended that practically any theory is "correct". For one, there's the uncanny detail that the chapters are named after the stages of Rampancy (Despair, Rage, Envy = Melancholia, Anger, Jealousy). Many suspect that not only do you go through a few "dream levels", but the entire game is some kind of dream. One of my theories is that it's actually the player going through Rampancy — perhaps set off by the W’rkncacnter somehow — and the entities he faces are the various AIs trying to get through to him for their own ends (the Durandal-Thoth merger is actually them working together to get through to the player, or maybe they are making him Rampant so he can merge with them as well). This also kind of ties into the player's behavior during the game: after so much time spent being manipulated and dragged around, the Cyborg decides to take matters into his own hands, both by exploiting Tycho's ambitions and by destroying and then remaking Durandal. Kind of like how Durandal himself became Rampant and powerful after years of abuse.

    As for the multiple timelines (i.e the version where you go back to slight variations of the Tycho timeline), I think you don't give the theory enough credit. There's a couple other inconsistencies that also suggest you aren't in the exact same timeline as the previous ones. Sure, it's easy to brush them off with "rushed development", but at that point, why talk about the game at all? The theory really doesn't add complexity, but it increases the weight of the whole adventure. If you're just dreaming between transitions in the same timeline, that's not nearly as interesting.

    Regarding the fan projects: Marathon Eternal could indeed have been better. I played Eternal X, the "HD version" you could say, and while it was really impressive in looks, music(!) and even some gameplay aspects, it was indeed a slog a lot of the time, not to mention the story was a massive disappointment. It kind of felt like they were angry that Leela never shows up after the first game and decided the appropriate response was to: 1) have Durandal barely show up instead, and 2) have Leela show up in the most predictable manner possible, and her role amount to very little. At least Tycho had an interesting comeback.

    Marathon Rubicon, on the other hand, I will definitely defend as a "worthy entry". While it indeed appears to try and continue where M2 left off, there are quite a few mechanics and story elements in place that can be traced back to Infinity. That, and Durandal is not only back, but in all his glory, as thankfully the person writing the conversations with the AIs knew what they were doing. The plot is ultimately a bit disjointed and not nearly as epic as the trilogy leading up to it, but at the same time, better to have a more grounded story — with the occasional mindfuck thrown in — than to try to up the ante and then have the whole thing fall flat on its face (looking at you again, Eternal…)

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  16. I would have to disagree with your interpretation of the timeline for two main reasons: firstly, I don’t think Marathon Infinity rewrites or overrides Marathon 2: Durandal, but simply is another timeline branching off from the end of the first game, especially when the final screen of Marathon 2 outlines events taking place after Durandal. Secondly the three timeline theory doesn’t take into account that in the Tycho timelines key events repeat, which in my opinion points to the Tycho timelines being timelines that branch off from one another, not something unheard of in sci-fi. Regardless, you did a great job and it’s interesting to hear alternative interpretations of infinity.

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  17. I’ve been watching your videos on and off for a few years and goddamn this was fantastic also I just realized that you’re the same guy on tfb tv

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