A 35-level single player major conversion.
This scenario is difficult and action-packed; it features a full arsenal of new, powerful weapons, and more threatening enemies than you could ever want.
1.4 has new Lua features like a performance overlay, weapon buffs, a lot of little bug fixes; it also applies ammo capacity limits on Total Carnage. Requires Aleph One 1.5 or newer, probably!
Fixes a small Lua issue that could desync multiplayer. The "Final" iteration of this edition of Phoenix.
This is a major campaign which is all about combat. What sets the fighting of Phoenix apart from other scenarios is a plethora of cool all-new weapons paired with new enemies to fight and great level design.
The new weapons are more powerful than the standard Marathon arsenal. For example, one is a fusion cannon that functions like the standard fusion pistol except it lobs energy shells which explode on impact with a large radius of effect. In this way packs of hunters and other fusion-vulnerable enemies can be decimated.
Another weapon is a powerful crossbow that can be used to accurately snipe enemies at long range. Since the standard Marathon arsenal focuses mostly on close-range weapons, the ability to push out combat to longer distances is appreciated.
But don’t fret that the new weapons will make the combat in Phoenix too easy; you’ll need the extra firepower! That’s because the enemies in Phoenix also got a power upgrade! Although you’ll fight plenty of the standard Pfhor which you’re already well familiar with, there are a lot of new enemies that present new threats. None of these new enemies have new graphics, but they do possess different combat capabilities from the ones that you’re used to.
For example, there is a kind of super hunter in Phoenix that has a burst-fire attack that spews out a huge number of projectiles with a large amount of inaccuracy. Thus, you’ll quickly learn to avoid close range combat with that kind of hunter. There are also a few gold-colored boss enemies that you’ll learn to fear. And defenders are featured as a common enemy, which is nice because they were rarely seen in Bungie’s official campaigns, and even then they were allies, not enemies. Thus, most Marathon players have never had to fight defenders before, but in Phoenix you’ll fight a lot of them, and the challenge is welcome.
There are a lot of optional secrets to find in Phoenix, and even a unique skull system that will help you track them. Basically, every time you find a secret you’ll find a skull with it. Picking up a skull will tell you how many secrets are left in that particular level, letting you know how much progress you’re making towards 100% secrets completion (useful for completionists like me).
Level design is really top notch. Not only because there are some great set piece battles, but also because a lot of attention has been paid to aesthetics. For example in “Sanctum Sanctorum” you’re exploring a long-abandoned temple, and to reinforce that plot point you see one of the floor tiles has been torn out of the floor at the level start. It’s just little touches like that that show a high amount of attention to detail. You’ll almost never see just boring, featureless, rectangular rooms — everything in Phoenix looks designed for a purpose.
The campaign features a really great music soundtrack. I grabbed it and put it on my iTunes. My favorite song was “The Complex” by Kevin Macleod; it’s absolutely the sort of action music that would go along with storming a heavily fortified enemy base, which is what you’re doing when you hear it!
The story was entertaining enough. Terminals give clear level objectives. Unlike most Marathon campaigns, Phoenix features an active and dynamic antagonist. I did have one complaint about the end of the story though.
SPOILERS AHEAD! At the end Durandal shows up and effortlessly defeats the Pfhor. I felt this denigrates the accomplishments of the player. Because if you had a super powerful ally who could just show up and zap the bad guys, then was all the heroism of the player meaningless? Apparently this was done to link the plot of Phoenix to other Marathon mods, but I think it would have been better to just omit that plot point entirely. END SPOILERS
Other cool stuff that is unique to Phoenix or has only rarely been done before:
”Stone Temple Pilates” has cliffs that kill you if you fall off them.
“Shades of Gray” does a great job of building up a sense of foreboding before introducing a new enemy type.
”Into Sandy’s City” is a neat concept for an underwater base level. There is an air-filled base surrounded by water, and to reach all parts of the level you have to venture out into a ruined flooded area of the base.
“Enchanting New Mexico” is a homage to Bungie’s “What About Bob?” In this level you have to outrun rising lava no less than four times! And it features a really impressive multi-story tower, which may have been a little too complex its design, as this is one of the few levels I got lost in.
“Escape Two Thousand” is a level situated high above a lava lake, and it’s all about platforming. I’m not gonna lie, I am not generally a fan of platforming in Marathon. But if ever there was an example of Marathon platforming done right, this is it. The whole level I was saying, “I can’t actually be meant to jump across the lava to that tiny little ledge, can I?” But a glance at the automap would confirm my path, and I’d probably have some very intense moments as I tried to find my footing and fight off baddies who might knock me off my precarious perch into the lava sea below. Did I get fried to a crisp a few times? Sure, but I had fun doing it!
“Vampire Killer” was my least favorite level of the campaign. The point of the level is to activate a switch that will flood the whole level, opening up new areas to explore. It’s a great idea in concept, but the execution was lacking. Firstly, there are a lot of waterfalls in the level, but after the water level rises the waterfalls are still there, and it just looks bad. This is a rare example of poor aesthetics in Phoenix, and though the waterfalls-under-water ugliness is found throughout the campaign, it’s especially noticeable in this level. Secondly, a bunch of bad guys will invariably get stuck under the floodwaters, rendering them harmless and highlighting how the Marathon engine does a poor job with underwater combat.
“Roquefortress” was my favorite level of Phoenix. There’s a great dichotomy between light and dark areas, and the soundtrack “Animosity” just syncs with it perfectly and made the plot premise of exploring an abandoned mining facility really come to life.
Every Marathon fan should check out this campaign, it’s great fun!
Why must our carnage be limited when it must be total?
My first review of this game was made on Aug 2012 and it's quite stunning seeing how much history I have with this particular game.
My opinion still stands that this scenario, Eternal, and Rubicon surpass the original trilogy. I'd say EVIL and The Gray Incident are on par with the trilogy. Red is really the only one I'd rate below M2/MI. (Not a huge fan of M1 myself, too much Doom.)
Regarding Phoenix, unlike the previous commenter, I find the combat a thrilling experience; it's especially adrenaline-inducing when playing on Total Carnage; the enemies are so aggressive and ruthless, prompting me to strategize to take advantage of their weaknesses.
I find the level design very complicated and interesting. (The complicated level design grew on me over time; I don't need a guide to beat MP anymore.)
Perfect scenario... except for that typo in Tantive IV. Sytemic glitch indeed.
I really like the map design and the story, both of which are very well designed and easy to follow yet offer a puzzle and a challenge. The use of level verticality and sniper battles between enforcers with the crossbow are really fun and a new concept to the scenario scene!
However where the game seems to fail is in combat. The enemies are too large in quantity and need to be rationed more throughout some of the levels to offer consistency and allow some form of challenge rather than just holding mouse 1 for 5 minutes.
Also the weapon selection has redundancies and has questionable design. The starting pistol is too overpowered and makes the AR's primary fire redundant. Why a crossbow? why not a DMR or sniper, that would fit the weapon themes better.
Weapons overall looks are not bad, good in fact, but they don't match up. For example the fusion cannon is a very abstract in design and very detailed like the rocket launcher, yet weapons such as the machine pistol and AR have worse quality textures as if they are from another scenario or were rushed.
But overall this was very fun, great levels and story. You just need to work on the weapon and enemy balancing.
It took me a while to figure out why all the aliens are freezing but its working out now okay.
Man, I want to give this a higher rating, but this is one of the most irritating scenarios. You cannot go into one room without getting attacked from every direction. I end up just dying on purpose to memorize where all the enemies are, then try to complete it without getting hit as much. The maps are EXCEPTIONAL, however. The level design and flow is beautiful. But, the amount of enemies kills it. The Red and Yellow Droids are NON-STOP. If they cut the amount of enemies in half...it would STILL be too much. That's not even an exaggeration. Too bad. This could have been great. Marathon Rubicon is still what I measure perfection against.
I grow weary of levels which the creators have made 'hard' just by souping up the enemy's abilities until they do absurd amounts of damage, and constantly ambushing the player with enemies teleporting in from random locations.
The architecture is absolutely gorgeous but I think this scenario is likely impossible on total carnage. This one I'd actually enjoy more on a difficult lower than normal, and I usually play on Major Damage.
I'm pretty late on this review, and since pretty much everything's been said, I'm just here to rate it 5 stars. This definetly inspired me to start working on my own Scenario/Total Conversion.
Game quits when trying to transport from the first level. Skipped second level and started new game with third level...no more crashes after that. Would like to to see a walkthru...stuck on Enchanting New Mexico... Otherwise enjoyed the scenario.
I'm liking all of it so far... the action is quite fast, which is a nice change just coming from Marathon EVIL.
But I'm totally stuck on Enchanting New Mexico. Where's the walkthrough so I can move on?
Competes with Rubicon X for top place. The great thing about Phoenix is it's a reasonable length, not some tedious thing you have to spend a year playing on-and-off like Rubicon. The enemies are aggressive, and even Kindergarten is no cake-walk. The arsenal is innovative, intuitive, and fun to use. Truly amazing work.
As one who's made a few Infinity and 3rd party maps before, I've just come from playing the first level and the first part of the next. The level design and texturing looks good so far. I like how you put in secrets right from the start (won't spoil it).
Music is good. As for using existing assets; if the creators don't have a problem, I don't.
Glad you haven't thrown endless perpetually respawning Pfhor at the player; I tossed a scenario into the trash for doing that number on me.
Only suggestion so far is that the environment outdoor lighting (and shadowing) could be a little more detailed.
Its nice to play fun levels, and so far Phoenix has them!
I like the arsenal. also, I like the sounds.
Too late to be reviewing this thing, but I did want to say that this is the most kickass scenario out there. The maps are beautiful and immensely complicated, but at the same time, I found it easy to move from place to place and complete the objectives.
The combat really shines here. There are hordes of powerful enemies, but the arsenal is far more powerful (and more satisfying) than the standard Infinity weapons. There is always enough ammo, and usually enough maneuvering room, health, and saves to slaughter the hordes without being too frustrated. I've been more frustrated with other scenarios with far fewer and less powerful enemies.
Also, a great scenario to increase your skills in solo play. I first played it through several months ago on Normal. I'm now in the middle of a playthrough in TC, and it's even more fun than before.
This scenario has amazingly designed levels. They are the main reason I stuck it through to the end. There is some beautiful architecture in this map set, the lava level (forgot the title) comes to mind. The combat is very hard, and you basically have to save after every encounter. One problem is the massive over use of red defenders. They are not quite as much fun to fight as their ubiquity would suggest. The weapons are generally impotent, which you get used to after a bit. The energy katar invincibility totally changes the gameplay once it comes out. It's a nice addition and makes the following levels more manageable, though makes the final boss battle somewhat trivial. Finally, the terminal texts are boring. I stopped reading them after about the 2nd level.
The skulls were a fun touch. I managed to get 31 at the end.
All in all a great scenario, very solid. Could use a rewriting of the terminals, and perhaps a reduction of the amount of red defenders.
Excellent, very challenging but kept my attention the whole way through. I dislike the author's habit of putting in many doors that never open, but that can be forgiven in the light of the all round excellence of this scenario. I've played it through several times and kept going back to it because some of the levels are such fun to play. The Face of Modern Gaming is almost an epic on its own and Roquefortress is another favorite.
I really want to play this game. It looks hella cool... But every time I teleport from the first level, the game crashes and quits! Why!? I'm sure the game deserves 5 starts but I can't play it!
Marathon Phoenix deserves highest praise. The map making, more than anything else, really stands out. The opponents utilize the innovative architecture to attack in ways that Marathon does not usually support. They frequently sally forth from a small side door or slip through a high window. Enemy ranged troops like to lurk on the ledges. The weapons are not terribly exciting but they'll bring the foe down.
The story has improved substantially from earlier versions. That being said, it still suffers from some significant gaps. A human/renegade alliance after the Count of Tuscany level would make perfect sense and it would make great gameplay to spearhead an assault of biosynthetic troops. Naturally, this agreement might fall apart after a few levels. Alternatively, we might ally with the Renegades on Red Eye Express. Also, the terminals speak often of the inexhaustible numbers of the Pfhor legions - as if even thinking of defeating them were nothing more than wishful folly. M2, of course, suggests that the rebellion of the S'pht would tear the heart out of the alien empire.
The Renegades would not have had any reason to give up the interior of the Atreides. (Tantive IV) The human presence on Intervals is unbelievably tragic. They would know better.
Phoenix does not use the ticks, yetis or drones. The first two would align perfectly with the background and fit into empty levels like False Dichotomy and Swan Song. The absence of the drones is a little sad.
Still these are aesthetic considerations, not pertaining to gameplay. (Just let us fight with the Renegades for a few levels before we know who they really are.) Overall, Marathon Phoenix is the best scenario that has come out for years.
The architecture in this scenario is impeccable. This RyokoTK deserves the highest applaud for the effort he put into this masterpiece. inf/5 rating, but 5 is the highest available. RyokoTK, make scenarios like this one, and you'll get me hooked.
Adlib added 3/12/14
Btw, Stone Temple Pilates at Normal is wicked difficult. Serial number of tries just to make it about the 20th time? Relentless brutality, but it's the way it should be. Rock on RyokoTK.
AND HONESTLY, Phoenix beats the original Marathon trilogy. Played it more than the originals.
Adlib added 9/29/20
So far, I'm at Tantive IV in Total Carnage difficulty - wonderful and difficult scenario, surprisingly beatable in TC.
I could say how refined and intricate it is. How the battles are so well conceived... But it's summed up in a word - Juicy! It really is something to get your teeth into. Excellent!
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.
Cons: * 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.
Pros: * 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”.
(April 23, 2012)
Edit May 27, 2020: I’m replaying this on Total Carnage and enjoying the combat a lot more. It’s possible some of this is the result of changes to the game since I last played it; however, it’s also worth noting that Ryoko himself has explicitly noted that this game is not balanced for any other difficulty setting. You’ll always have enough ammo on Total Carnage, even if you vid start every level (with Command+Option+New Game or Ctrl+Shift+New Game), unless you’re incredibly wasteful with ammo; however, this isn’t the case on lower difficulty settings, which have ammo caps that Total Carnage removes.
As a result, if you absolutely have to play on a lower difficulty:
Use a script that removes the ammo limits (or at least makes them into something ridiculous like 1,000 per ammo type).
My high esteem for this game hasn’t really changed in the last eight years since I wrote this review; if anything, I think I like it even more now. One of my own levels (“To Make an Idol of Our Fear and Call It God”) is a direct ripoff of “Roquefortress”, which should be a clue as to how highly I regard it. (Further edit, July 31, 2020: My level for the forthcoming re-release of Tempus Irae, “Il grande silenzio”, will be equally obviously influenced by “Stone Temple Pilates”.)
Version 1.3.0 adds six new levels to the end of this game, which are worth your time to play. (They’re normally accessible from a secret terminal in the last level of the main story, “Swan Song”, but you can always vid start if you don’t feel like replaying the whole scenario. The first of these is a rebellion level, anyway, so vid starting it won’t be any different.) The short sequel Kindred Spirits is also worth your time.
And I do recommend vid starting each level. It’s a fun challenge, since Ryoko made sure each level has enough ammo and weapons to complete from a vid start.
The new Marathon Phoenix is the best Marathon Scenario I have ever played.
One can only gripe that some level secrets can only be found via the PDF walk-through, or TABTABTABTABTABing every wall.
That is to say some secrets are not indicated by anything out of place.
S'PHTSTORM is the only bad level for its terrible game play. All enemies teleport in, the level would otherwise be uninhabited, so anytime you enter a new room, you get ambushed and DIE instantly.
The level can only be beaten via NEW ROOM+DIE+MEMORIZE+NEW ROOM+DIE+MEMORIZE+NEW ROOM+DIE+MEMORIZE=BAD GAME PLAY.
I like Phoenix because it introduces new weapons. I'd like if it were easier to complete the levels and not so easy to get lost and end up having to resort to the map.
This is a scenario that actually caught my interest. Many other i play to play. This I actually paid attention to the story, which hasn't happened since the original trilogy. The game play was excellent, challenging, but rewarding. Great map design definitely is a plus. Definitely deserves 5 stars!
Just want to say - AWESOME SCENARIO!!!!. Been a Marathon gamer since my MAC days (now on Linux) back in the early 90's and I have to say this is one of the best scenarios I have ever played!
I would like to say that this is the BEST SCENERIO EVER! The weapons are EPIC! Just one thing though: it is easy to get lost since the levels are so big and there are so many floors. The automap is rendered useless in these maps. It takes quite a while to find a way to do things.
Excellent game, fuck all you who discredit it just for 'stolen' shapes.
Kill things here, kill things there, kill things everywhere! So much action yet I die a lot. I thought the seeking s'pht kr shots were bad now they shoot faster non seeking ones.This is a really hard game. I give 4 stars!
Not only did you take the weapons from Apotheosis, you also stole all the textures and monster sprites from M2 and Infinity.
ITs good and haz cool weapons but it crashes whenever i transport to another level
well, i tried doing a Cheat run on Running From evil and i got to the boss room (i think) i lasted a while and adventually died when i tried to amp up my health with Invincibility cheat(Nuke(0)) and in that time i died. very fun, i suggest you do a cheat run on that level, it is very intense when you get to the last part.
You took all the weapon shapes from Apotheosis. Have some dignity man.
perhaps you could make NetMaps for Phoenix?
That would be awesome because for the time being you can only do Cooperative play.
Marathon Phoenix is a great scenario.
More Action packed than any scenario I've ever seen.
Textures are great. Well placed. Weapons have great variety, and each holds a special niche in certain encounters.
The levels are amazing too, enemies, architecture, and flow, all top notch...
...Except for "Escape Two Thousand." It's a level filled with nothing but dirty tricks and a badly placed switch that opens a door that you'll likely miss. After you memorize it, it'll still kill you.
F*** Escape Two Thousand.
The mappers have only contributed to the community, in various ways--
The point is to ruin it.
The combat is impotent, the architecture is flaccid, the atmosphere is sterile, the story lacks girth, the weapons are emasculated, the enemies are dysfunctional, and the whole package is generally limp-dicked.
5 stars for giving me the chance to write this review.