Time for a trip back in time with this week's best free PC games. In the days before Halo, Bungie made a
series of FPS games. The Marathon Trilogy has been available for free for a while now, but only this week has this carefully constructed update hit version 1.0. Elsewhere, top-down shooters, action-platformers, and music-rhythm-action-blast-'em-ups. Read on for this week's picks...
Bungie (plus fans).
Download the games (and the required engine) from
Marathon Open Source
Before the Halo games, Bungie made a series called Marathon. Set in the far future, these first-person shooters were obviously closer to Doom than modern AAA giants, but they're still worth a look - if mainly for historical interest.
Helpfully, the three games have been available open-source for a while now. But a huge project to update them all in the AlephOne engine finally reached a milestone this week, the free re-releases reaching version 1.0.
Marathon 2 and Marathon Infinity are supported natively by the engine, and fans have worked hard to remake the first game. These are fast, frantic shooters, and very obviously dated now, but they also play with some interesting ideas. Fighting alongside squadmates who teleport in to battle aliens by your side? That's something that, looking back, seems quite inventive for Marathon 2 - a game released in 1995.
And while the storytelling might be paper-thin compared to many games these days, the intricacy of the Marathon lore was almost unprecedented at the time of their release. While Doom was interested in the biggest guns and the most horrifying monsters, it was the likes of Marathon and System Shock that saw the first-person computer game as an interesting new way of telling stories.
A dev whose name I cannot seem to locate anywhere
. Grab it from
the official website
Before sitting down to write today, I was rather enjoying Teleglitch. It's a top-down 3D shooter with a pleasantly blocky visual style, along with slightly cumbersome aiming system that actually serves to work in the game's favour.
To begin with, it's a fierce challenge, as foes close in with alarming pace and start punching you upside the head. But then you work out how to keep your distance, to take aim from afar, and fell them before they have the chance to get close. It's almost, combat-wise, a little traditional survival horror: the enemies seem to be more agile than you, and this creates a strong sense of tension as you progress.
It's nothing fancier than a classic shooter setup of 'shoot the baddies, find the exit', but with four large levels to blast through and a decent, speedy pace to the whole thing, it's more than worth your time.
Cellar Door Games
. Play it on
Cellar Door's latest, now available on Newgrounds, is an initially interesting game that quickly becomes all-consuming as you fight to defeat the bad guys and level up - all to the soundtrack of various genres of electronic music.
At the top of each level sits a large boss, and it's up to you to kill it with a steady stream of science-bullets. There's only one problem: your ammunition can only be recharged by getting close to the energy balls emitted by the boss. Let too many of them hit you, and you're a bit dead.
The game becomes a frantic attempt at risk-management. More energy means you can defeat the bosses more quickly. But get too close to the middle of a fierce pack of red balls, and it'll soon be game over for you. Light RPG elements compel you to continue past the first couple of levels, too. It's a truly entertaining little game.
Nitrome Must Die
. Play it on
the dev's website
This is quite silly. The idea is that developer Nitrome has been ripping people off with several games for some time now, and it's time to take revenge. So, either on your own or with a friend, you set out for Nitrome headquarters - a couple of weapons in your hands.
What this really equates to is a stylised action-platformer in which some emo kids take on variety of Bad Things across pleasantly monochrome levels. There's a whole heap of these levels, too, meaning this professionally crafted browser game will last you some time. Interestingly, between levels you can choose to safely 'bank' your score, or save it for next time and take a gamble on trying to double it. It's a small but welcome touch that adds yet more character to an already personality-filled platformer.
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