Finished Phoenix for the first time

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Finished Phoenix for the first time

Post Jul 4th '18, 08:25

Yes I know I'm late to the party, but this scenario was too good to not comment upon

I don't know why I never did before, too much of a noob I guess

But my thoughts are thus

Marathon Phoenix has a very well written narrative that I enjoyed, so I enjoyed the story a fair bit, though I always found it annoying how much Phoenix yammered on about how in the first two chapters that 'there's nothing to see here, no terrible secret, nothing going on, the only real enemy is the Pfhor, go away' bit that he would go on about.

Which was somewhat annoying because if the only real enemy is the Pfhor then stop shooting at me damnit

Very well done overall, it makes a good tie into Rubicon

What confuses me though, does Phoenix take place after Marathon 2...or Infinity?


In terms of the design of levels, this is where the scenarios shines so very much, between excellent color composition and gorgeous architecture, Phoenix is so good looking that I dare say in many ways it holds up to even more modern games

That's how great looking this game is, and I loved every bit of it's design bar one nitpick and a couple levels

The nitpick is that while monster closets, something I haven't really seen anything used in a Marathon scenario before but is clearly a nod to Doom here, intentional or otherwise, its not their usage that bothered me so much as the fact that Ryoko uses them a lot

A bit too much honestly, but oh well.

The levels in question that I didn't care for, was Escape Two Thousand, and Another Dimension.

Escape Two Thousand more or less embodies every single design aspect I don't like in any shooter ever, narrow perilous platforming, little room to dodge around or take cover, lots of sniper, and a single fuck up results in guaranteed death, as Ryoko is not kind enough to give you a way to escape the magma.

Another Dimension, is mostly fine, bar the fact that there are a lot of cheap tricks of popping enemies in behind you with little to no warning(teleports are pretty quiet in Phoenix), so you can find yourself with some Defenders nailing you in the backside unless you're looking for it.

That, and the final part of that mission is to be blunt, kind of horse shit, I was playing on normal and I have to say the end of Another Dimension beats out literally any other piece of Marathon content in sheer difficulty that I've ever seen, and not in a good way.

While the initial big fight is very fun, the part where you have to actually smash the circuitry for the cooling systems to complete your objective is a mountain of bullshit, a panel has to be activated to slide away, but takes a moment, and in the meantime the moment you get up there an enormous amount of dangerous enemies teleport in front and behind you, even with the 3x recharge canister right there, you're going to be hard pressed to make it out alive, especially given that the escape route isn't really immediately clear

Oh wells, I made it through regardless with determination and no small amount of swearing, I nonetheless feel like that section is way too hard, and can't even imagine playing it on Total Carnage.


For the most part, Ryoko has a very good understanding of how to handle difficulty well, Phoenix is very challenging, but fair, generally if you die it's your fault, and not the result of bad design. As long as you're cautious and don't go in guns blazing you'll be just fine, though it will still be hard.

I played it on normal difficulty, yea I know I'm a scrub, but I can safely say that I think I wouldn't be able to beat this on Total Carnage, I'm not good enough at Marathon for that, I figure in a lot of fights you could just 'Vid it' but I'm not good enough for that honestly

I digress, regardless of the difficulty, most of the entire scenario is very satisfying to fight through, though I did find fighting the sheer number of Defenders to be rather annoying.


The weapons are all pretty good, though I often felt like I wanted a second Imp sooner, I'm sure they were hidden in secrets but I'm a total scrub at finding those so...oh well

The Imp pistols are probably my favorite weapon bar none, they're just so satisfying, and I love anything that goes dakka dakka dakka.

The reskin and sound effects for the Assault Rifle are quite welcome, it's a cool gun and nice to use.

The fusion cannon just kinda is ugly to me, I think I would have preferred the pistol but that's me.

The Fusion Mortar is hit and miss, it's either great or it's worthless, and can be sometimes wonky to hit targets with

The a cool idea, but is just a gimmick, I knew that already though, quite dangerous regardless if you can actually get in close to land hits without taking huge amounts of damage, you're going to be whoring off of chargers if you try to use this puppy though, at least in my opinion

The crossbow was weird and at first I didn't care for it, but it grew on me due to it's ability to snipe Enforcer's

Not much else to say here


Pretty spot on almost all the time, though sometimes I don't think I'd have chosen the music that was chosen for certain levels, but whatever

Final Verdict

Level/Visual Design 5/5 A gorgeous scenario, one of the best looking without a doubt

Audio/Music: 5/5

Gameplay 4/5 A point is docked for the absolute bullshit that is Another Dimension, and Escape Two Thousand, but other then that...

Story 4/5 Docked a point here just cause of how annoying 'Karma' is in the first few chapters, but beyond that spot on and quite enjoyable

Favorite Level: S'phtstorm

Least Favorite Level: Another Dimension

Overall Phoenix is a bang up job of a scenario and well worth anyone's time.
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Post Jul 4th '18, 17:28

It’s interesting to read others’ reviews of scenarios like this. I agree with you on many points and strongly disagree on a few. Here’s my review of 1.2 from about six years ago, after I’d just finished it:

This is definitely in the top five Infinity/Aleph One scenarios I've ever played (the others are, in no particular order, Tempus, Rubicon, Eternal, and Pfh'Joueur, in case you're wondering), and large portions of this scenario should serve as a model for future map-makers.


  • Too frakking difficult. Not always in a "This is a challenge" way, but in a "If you stand in the wrong place for a second you will die" way, which is fine the first time but gets a bit frustrating after awhile. This probably wouldn't be a problem if not for the $**$ing fire speed of some of the enemies (I'm looking particularly at red defenders, blue hunters, the retooled Mothers of All Cyborgs and the like). This isn't helped by the fact that Defenders fire on the left while pretty much everything else fires on the right, which makes the strafe-while-circling-enemies tactic I use in almost every other scenario almost impossible (although this isn't really Ryoko's fault since he wasn't the one who designed them. I guess he could have flipped them and just hand waved it as the A'khr being different though). I recently beat Marathon 2 on Major Damage without all that much frustration. I couldn't even hack this on Normal.
  • Some of the secrets are probably impossible to find without the guide.

  • Apart from the Guide Dang It secrets, the puzzles are uniformly superb. Almost everything in the game that isn't a secret can be puzzled out without consulting a guide, but in some cases you're going to have to think about it for awhile.
  • Possibly the most gorgeous map design I have ever seen in a scenario - even eclipsing the best levels of scenarios like Tempus Irae, Rubicon, and Eternal. Every single map is a beauty.
  • Apart from the insane difficulty, the gameplay is for the most part solid. I did find myself missing the shotgun though; the crossbow is an effective replacement, but you can't carry nearly enough ammo for it except on TC :(
Neutral/Who cares:

  • The story is kind of simplistic, but it gets the job done. The writing is effective and the terminals are fun to read without ever going on too long like certain other scenarios occasionally do (cough Eternal).
  • Some of the graphics were taken from other scenarios. Seriously, find something better to worry about. They're all used beautifully and all fit nicely with one another.
It would be nice to have an HD version of this at some point, though.

Notice to players: Every single level has at least one secret. The "Nearby Skulls" count tells you how many secrets are on the level. I don't remember any single level having more than seven.

My favourite levels were probably "Stone Temple Pilates", "Into Sandy's City", "Escape Two Thousand", "Sanctum Sanctorum", "Dark Pfhorces", and "Roquefortress".

My thoughts haven’t changed much since I wrote this. I found the combat simply too difficult, and I didn’t always consider it fair. My main complaint was the firing speed of the enemies – you shouldn’t consistently have to figure out the correct path of the level by saving, exploring, and dying over and over, but that’s exactly what I had to do. I had a large number of deaths even on Easy, and even at the time I wasn’t a horrible Marathon player. I’d probably be able to complete it on Normal by now, but I still think it’s too hard.

I liked “Escape Two Thousand”, despite the combat. The level design was just gorgeous, and part of the charm to me was figuring out how to snipe off all the enemies without dying. However, I’d still dock a point because you don’t get enough crossbow ammo. What was it, six quivers? Eight? That’s nowhere near enough, considering there are only three shots per quiver. This is a problem throughout the scenario, but it’s especially a problem on that level, considering how much sniping it requires.

Overall, though, it still easily makes my top five third-party scenarios – I don’t think the ranking of scenarios I listed would change even today, unless I swapped one of them them out for “Gemini Station”, which, for whatever reason, didn’t occur to me when I wrote the list. Of course, M1R isn’t complete yet, and once I finish my own scenario I’ll probably be hard-pressed not to put it in that list as well (I wouldn’t have made it if I didn’t think it were good). In any case, I gave it five stars in my review, and I’d still give it five stars. Just turn down the difficulty if it frustrates you – I guess it’s not that big a deal. But it’s still definitely too difficult – Dr Sumner said he felt lucky just to complete it, and if he felt that way, I doubt anyone will ever vid the whole scenario, which is a shame.

Oh, and the secret levels in the 1.3 release are pretty cool, too. And it definitely has the best architecture of any Marathon scenario – the only levels I can think of that come close are probably James Hastings-Trew’s in Tempus and Megiddo Game, and possibly Mike Trinder’s in Gemini Station.
People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.

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The Man
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Post Jul 5th '18, 00:24

I don't have a detailed review of Phoenix, just that I remember it being a fairly engaging scenario with some really frustrating bits here and there (ex. "Another Dimension", ye gods). Also, while the story isn't too complex, things do progress just enough to not feel like an errand boy plot; Phoenix the AI is shown to be decently complex in the time that you work with him.

Regarding whether or not Phoenix (and its follow-up Kindred Spirits) takes place after M2 or Infinity: while it seems like the latter at first since the Security Officer is working with the UESC, Durandal (in KS) is looking and acting like his singular self, not Thothandal, despite Phoenix mentioning at the end that Durandal's bonded with a S'pht/Jjaro entity. I wonder if it's actually post-M2, and Durandal and the SO split up for several years in order to cover more ground in their search for the Jjaro.
welcome to the scene of the crash
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Post Jul 7th '18, 08:52

The Man wrote:-snip-

If you have too much difficulty with Phoenix, largely it's in tactics and how you approach situations, if it's too hard, you need to adjust your tactics


'Escape Two Thousand' I dislike with such intensity that I dislike it on the same level I dislike 'Whatever you Please' from Infinity, which in my opinion is by and large the worst level in all of Marathon, the only other 'official' level I can think that equates to the misery is Colony Ship for Sale, Cheap!

My dislike of levels, generally stems not from difficulty but in how much tedious bullshit headache they induce in me, when I look at the design and instead of the developer trying to give you a challenge it's the developer going HAHAHA I GOTCHA

And you have to go 'who the fuck is this for? Is this meant to be fun? Is it fun for the developers? I don't get it'

Regarding whether or not Phoenix (and its follow-up Kindred Spirits) takes place after M2 or Infinity: while it seems like the latter at first since the Security Officer is working with the UESC, Durandal (in KS) is looking and acting like his singular self, not Thothandal, despite Phoenix mentioning at the end that Durandal's bonded with a S'pht/Jjaro entity. I wonder if it's actually post-M2, and Durandal and the SO split up for several years in order to cover more ground in their search for the Jjaro.

It's rather hard to say, but since Rubicon I think takes place after M2, not Infinity, chances are my guess is, Phoenix is M2 related, because as you noted, Durandal hasn't merged with Thoth(that we can tell)

So chances are, the SO in Phoenix is entirely unaware of his Jjaro implants and what they're capable of
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Post Jul 7th '18, 17:56

I get that there’s always a strategy that works on all of the levels, but what you write about “Escape Two Thousand” was what my experience playing almost the entire game felt like on Normal. Advance, die, keep dying until you find the way to win the next segment, save, repeat. It wasn’t fun, which was why I ultimately reduced the difficulty. My biggest complaint was the monsters’ insane firing speed. If you stopped for a second to scratch an itch or drink something, you’d die. Perhaps TC should be like that (perhaps), but not Normal.

I always felt like Phoenix’s ending was written to explain the interim between Infinity and Rubicon. Why would the player not be in Durandal’s service after Infinity, but then rejoin him by the time of Rubicon? And the prologue to Rubicon X always seemed to me to allude to Infinity in that all of the colonists seemed to have different accounts of what occurred at Lh’owon. But I’ll allow that Durandal in both scenarios doesn’t behave like Durandal/Thoth in Infinity. I assumed that the passage of time caused his snarky personality to reassert itself. I think it’s deliberately left open to interpretation in both scenarios, though – the only thing I’m certain of is that Phoenix is supposed to connect to Rubicon.
People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.

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