Marathon Infinity is the third and final game in the Marathon Trilogy of science fiction first-person shooter computer games from Bungie Software. The game was released on October 15, 1996 and included more levels than its predecessor Marathon 2. These were larger, and formed part of a more intricate plot that spanned both space and time. The underlying engine of the game changed little from the one in Marathon 2, and many levels can be played unmodified in both games. The only significant additions are the Jjaro ship texture set, multiple paths between levels, vacuum-enabled humans carrying fusion weapons (called "Vacuum Bobs" or "VacBobs") and a new weapon. Marathon Infinity, unlike Marathon 2, was originally released only for the Apple Macintosh.
The story in the single-player version of Marathon Infinity, titled “Blood Tides of Lh’owon”, is not told in an explicit fashion. For example, it begins as if large parts, if not all, of the events in Marathon 2 had not happened. The story involves the player "jumping" between alternative realities in surreal dream sequences, seeking to prevent a chaotic entity, the W’rkncacnter — an eldritch abomination — from being released from Lh'owon's dying sun. These jumps are apparently caused either by Jjaro technology or by the W’rkncacnter’s chaotic nature. The player begins as Durandal's ally, only to be transported to a reality where Durandal did not capture the player after the events of Marathon. As such, he is controlled by the Pfhor-tortured AI Tycho.
There are four sections to the solo levels of Marathon Infinity, each with its own intro screen. The first is the prologue, in which the player is controlled by Durandal. The next is Despair, which inevitably leads to the levels Electric Sheep One, then Where are Monsters in Dreams. this level can lead to two choices, one of which is Aie Mak Sicur. This level indicates a failure to complete the plot and leads to the first level of the next Chapter, Rage. Where are Monsters in dreams can also lead directly to the Rage levels. The Rage Chapter leads to the second electric sheep level, Electric Sheep Two, and its companion, Whatever You Please. This pair can lead to Carrol Street Station, another failure level. Both of these lead to the Envy levels. The Envy levels lead to the third electric sheep level and the last "dream" level, Eat the Path, which can, again, lead to multiple levels. However, it can lead back to the Rage chapter, to a final failure level (You're Wormfood, Dude), or to the last level, Aye Mak Sicur.
It is interesting to note that all the failure levels (Aie Mak Sicur, Carrol Street Station, and You're Wormfood, Dude)have maps which represent a portion of the map of Aye Mak Sicur, the last level and the only success. Also, the three dream levels (Where are Monsters in Dreams, Whatever you Please, and Eat The Path) all refer to a mysterious "Hangar 96". This location does not appear in any of the levels in Marathon, Marathon 2:Durandal, or Marathon Infinity. However, there are two equally enigmatic terminals in Marathon Infinity, one in the first level and one in the last. They contain a large amount of hexadecimal code that can be pieced together to create a map called "Hats off to Eight Ninteen", which features a map label, reading Hangar 96. This area matches grainy pictures found in terminals on Where are Monsters in Dreams, Whatever you Please, and Eat The Path.
After multiple instances of these "jumps", the player (seemingly the only being who realizes he is being transported between possible realities) activates the ancient Jjaro station, preventing the chaotic entity's release. The ending screen of Infinity leaves the story's resolution open-ended, taking place billions of years after the events of Marathon Infinity during the final moments of the universe.
Despite the player’s being teleported to a Jjaro station by Durandal and left with a grim message in the beginning of Infinity, both Durandal and Earth did survive in the original timeline as can be seen at the end of Marathon 2.
Core game mechanics change little from Marathon 2. The player is placed into a usually semi-nonlinear level and is generally given a task which must be completed. Upon completion of this objective, the player then proceeds to an extraction point, usually in the form of a terminal. However, there are a few major deviations. Unlike previous games, certain actions will cause the game to branch out. However, the game does not contain multiple endings, as these branches will eventually merge back into the main story. The game also makes much greater use of plugin physics models that change game settings from level to level. This is most evident from the player's constantly changing allies throughout the game, as almost every creature in the game will act as both allies and enemies as the game progresses. It should also be noted that Marathon Infinity utilizes "Vacuum levels" a great deal more than previous installments in the series (only one such level appeared in the original Marathon and were completely absent in Marathon 2.) In these levels the player is restricted to certain weapons and gradually loses oxygen, failure to keep the player's oxygen supply from running out will result in death.
Multiplayer in Marathon Infinity is identical to Marathon 2, except for new maps, such as "Beyond Thunderdome", an extension on the "Thunderdome" level in Marathon 2. Marathon Infinity also contains "House of pain", a duplicate of the Marathon 2 level, and "King of pain", a similar level to "House of pain". In total, Marathon Infinity contains 25 single-player or co-op levels, three "Vidmaster's challenges", or extra-hard levels, and 23 multiplayer maps.
One of the most dramatic improvements in the game was the inclusion of Bungie's own level-creating software, Forge, and their physics and in-game graphics editor, Anvil. Forge and Anvil allowed a new generation of players to create their own levels and scenarios using the same tools as the Bungie developers themselves. Another improvement was the ability to include separate monster, weapons, and physics definitions for each level, a feature heavily used by Double Aught, who designed the Marathon Infinity levels.
See Marathon total conversions for some examples of games created using Forge and Anvil.
- Official website at Bungie Studios, containing screenshots of all three Marathon games
- 'Marathon Infinity' at MobyGames
- Free download of the game, as released by Bungie in 2005
- Marathon's Story The terminals and story of the marathon trilogy