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Marathon 2: Durandal Review

By , on January 17, 2012

Marathon 2: Durandal
Download on the AppStore
3 out of 5


  • A look back at a simpler time in the FPS genre.
  • Having ammo packs and squad members phase in and out for aid is a nice touch.


  • 90s FPS level design.
  • FPS controls are never as fluid as they need to be on the iPhone.


Mainly for those interested in gaming history or are looking to play an old favorite again. Durandal was a good game when released, but time has not been kind to this first person shooter.

  • Full Review
  • App Store Info

Before the wildly popular Halo series, Bungie was in charge of developing some of the only good titles to play if you were a gamer and owned a Mac instead of a PC (no idea why this would be the case, but they did exist). The Marathon series was a Sci-fi FPS epic which really planted the seeds as to where this developer would eventually find itself. The 2nd installment in the Marathon series, Durandal is now available on the iPhone... for free! Let's take a look and see if a first person shooter from 1995 can hold up on a touch screen based system over a decade and a half later.

Durandal controls with an on-screen d-pad for moving and strafing. The mouse used for looking around is replaced with sliding your finger along the touch screen. Firing your weapon can be done by either a the buttons in the bottom left corner (as duel wielding weapons is an option), or by tapping the screen (but this option needs to be turned on in the menu). Below the fire buttons are the buttons for switching weapons and that's really all you need to know. The rest of the game is typical FPS fare. Walk around a labyrinth searching for buttons and switches that will open areas and guide you to the next level, all while blasting anything that gets in your way. Health is revived either via med-packs or at dispensaries and there are computer terminals in which you will communicate with the game's characters, and receive back-story and plot (The Marathon series was lauded for having a complex story play out along-side the running and gunning).

The pitfalls are all you might imagine them to be. The controls work, but are not the most intuitive. Moving and firing at the same time is complicated, and circle-strafing would require a level of practice most would be unwilling to invest time in. The level design itself is indicative of the the time, with a lot of multilevel mazes and backtracking through large chunks of the landscape after you acquire a key or hit a switch. The ambient sound can at times be both atmospheric and annoying, but it does help immerse the player... and we can't discuss the graphics without discussing the game's shop.

Yes, the game itself may be free, and for that you get Durandal, as it was in 1995 with the controls changed to suit its new platform. If you wish to spend some money however, there are a couple options available to you, with the first being the HD upgrade pack. With this all the textures of the game have been upgraded to present a crisper visual experience. Now while Durandal's visuals have certainly aged, they are not altogether terrible, and really the HD upgrade only makes things a little sharper. Along with this pack, there are personalized shooting reticules available, and the Master Chief mode, which is sort of like popping all the keyboard codes in Doom on at the same time. You gain god mode, have access to all the weapons with infinite ammo, and can travel to any level you please.

So can we recommend this game? If you are a fan of the Marathon games, or are curious about this slice of gaming history, go for it. For others though, the FPS genre has come such a long way since this game and what it has to offer might frustrate more than delight (especially with the new controls). Still, giving Durandal a try isn't really going to set you back financially, so it might be worth it.


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