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To hear PC gamers talk about how first-person shooters don't work on consoles because the machines don't have mice, you'd think that's how it always was. Not a bit of it. A lot of us playing in the early to mid-1990s on the first FPS games made do with just two handfuls of keys. Marathon Marathon: back from the early 1990s in …

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Works? Sure. Well? Not really.

"To hear PC gamers talk about how first-person shooters don't work on consoles because the machines don't have mice, you'd think that's how it always was.

Not a bit of it. A lot of us playing in the early to mid-1990s on the first FPS games made do with just two handfuls of keys."

Well, sure, but none of you were very good, I'm afraid. ;) There is no significant competitive FPS player from the first few generations of FPS games who used keyboard-only controls, as far as I recall (and I was there, man). There were a few second-tier Doom speedrunners who used keyboard only, but all the top-tier players used keyboard and mouse. I can't recall a single notable deathmatch player who used keyboard only. It's just inarguable that the mouse represents a better control mechanism for rotating the player.

"I say this because the proof that FPSes are not at all dependent on a keyboard-and-mouse combo are the number of such games running on tablets, and if they can be played successfully there, they can be played on anything, console, PC or whatever."

I'd disagree here, too. I'd rather use a touchscreen than a keyboard or joypad to control an FPS, I think. I played a few FPSes on the Nintendo DS and found they played rather better than FPSes I tried on consoles with joypads. The touchscreen has many of the benefits of a mouse for player rotation - most significantly, you can easily perform a very small rotation or a very large one in the same amount of time and with quite a precise degree of control. Neither a keyboard nor a joypad is capable of this. I'd say it's sustainable to argue that you can play an FPS better on a tablet than on a console with a joypad.

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Joke

You know what would make a great game?

Where you run an actual marathon.

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Meh

Don't even joke about that.

Not after the damage 'Daley Thompson's Decathlon' caused....

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heh

oh, man, that 400m. not many apple ii keyboards can have survived that abuse for long.

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Excellent

I remember my first network FPS games were playing Marathon Infinity on a Mac Quadra and a G3 Powermac with me and my brother storming through matches with double shotguns. Good times...

Marathon had a tough learning curve compared to Doom and Wolfenstein at the time, but once you learn that you are not invincible (and that running while punching does more damage, HINT HINT) you can get through the earlier levels and get the strategy foundations right for the later levels, which sport more grenade spitting enemies than you can shake a Phfor fightstick at. The fact that the backstory and the ongoing narrative within the levels is absolutely top notch adds to the experience, plus haunting music and lots of dark corridors with scratchy, alien noises. And THAT motion detector lovingly stolen from Alien (the triangles, they come!!) . In some cases, this is even akin to pre Portal-esque AI humor:

"P.S. If things around here aren't working, it's because I'm laughing so hard."

Durandel, Quarantine, terminal 2 message 1

Oh god, I don't care if I've played it all through Aleph One - to the app store!

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Happy

Ah, Marathon.

Still pull it up and re-play it from time to time on my Linux box, these days. 'AlephOne' is the name of the generic open-source release.

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It's 1994 all over again

and I'm back playing Marathon on a Power Macintosh 6100. Except now it's while sitting on a train on an iPad.

The original cheat mode featuring the infamous "pirated Copland beta" is also avalable for those of us still not l33t enough to get through "Bigger Guns Nearby" without dying over and over again, even on "Normal" mode.

I hope the other two episodes are coming too.

Tim

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Coat

Is nothing sacred?

What's all this controlling Marathon with your left hand? You control it with the numeric keypad. *Mouse* look? Pah! When I were a lad the 'd' and 'c' keys were enough for me.

Mine's the one that doesn't use caps lock as the 'run' key.

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I'm guessing the reviewer is not an FPS player.

There simply *are not* a lot of FPS games for smartphones and tabs, and even fewer that work well.

Secondly, anyone who took FPS playing seriously, even in Wolfenstein 3D days, has always used a mouse - especially for multiplayer. You just cannot achieve the analogue turning speed and precision with a console pad, and certainly not with a touch UI. Consoles give you aim assist, massive hitboxes, rail levels and enemies all on the same vertical plane as the player all to make up for the deficiencies of pads. Dual-analogue pads make FPS games bearable on consoles, but they are a long way from the ideal. The only console control method that has the potential of coming close to a mouse is the Wii / Move/ Kinect.

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Keyboards

Remember fondly the days of gaming with the keyboard.

Up until Duke Nukem 3D, which could be played with arrow keys, plus pgup/pgdown to look up and down.

Even games like Indycar Racing drove better with keys than modern twitchy joypad sticks.

Truth be told, while friends got big into Quake deathmatches in the late 90s, I never quite got the hang of left hand keyboard/right hand mouse gaming.

The 'steep learning curve' as mentioned by another poster must be a Bungie trademark, judging by the first boss level of Halo 3.

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Yes, it *could* be played with keys

just like you can drive with your ear.

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FAIL

Keyboards and iOS

iOS supports bluetooth keyboards, in fact I'd say a keyboard is an essential addition to an iPad, to make working on the train easy.

So, why the hell do none of these games support the keyboard? Duke Nukem 3D is practically unplayable on iOS due to the stupid touchscreen system, and I gave up on Wolfenstein 3D at the first boss where strafing was necessary. All these games would be instantly playable using the keyboard.

Also, keyboard support would open up the possibility of using console-style bluetooth joypads (which could just pretend to be keyboards).

Just because it has a 'magic' multi-touch touchscreen system doesn't mean it's the best form of input.

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Gold badge

Easy

Simple reason, it's not a standard part of the device. If it had shipped with a bundled keyboard it would have been different.

Just like all the XBox 360 games don't support Kinect when it is plugged in. It requires the developer to add support for it.

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Happy

Marathon, a major contributor...

...to the eventually fatal delays to Apple's Copland OS ;)

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I remember...

Whilst not a Mac fan, my friends worked in a graphic design office in the 90's and I had my first taste of multiplayer gaming on Marathon 2... a couple of times a week, we'd gather in their office at the end of day and play the sub games like 'kill the man with the skull' and so forth.

I soon moved on to PC multiplayer games, but never enjoyed them properly until getting DSL 10yrs ago... But that 1st multiplayer experience had me hooked right away.

It's just a shame that the gaming community is now full or moronic teenagers and bad losers... and I no longer enjoy playing with such childish people.

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Ru
Facepalm

It isn't about the mice

You need analogue control. And oh look... touchscreen devices have those, as do mouseless consoles. Smearing my fingers all over the thing I'm trying to concentrate on doesn't sound like an awesome idea to me however...

But that aside, was this article never proofread? The random failures of spelling, syntax and grammar are pretty egregious.

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Not analog enough

A joypad stick can be analog, but not analog enough; it just doesn't have enough travel to work as well as a mouse. To have the same flexibility as a mouse you'd have to make it so sensitive it turned through at least 360 degrees, from one extent of its movement to the other, and if you do that, each tiny movement of the stick constitutes so much rotation that it's near impossible to do smaller rotations. You just need more space than a joypad provides.

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FAIL

Grammarians in glass houses...@Ru

You might want to look up the word 'egregious' in a dictionary. Considering it means 'outstandingly bad', the submodifiying adverb 'pretty' is superfluous.

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Superfluous maybe

But not bad grammar.

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halo

Not many (non mac users) know that the Marathon logo is in the halo logo http://static2.aintitcool.com/images2006/HaloLogo.jpg

(look in the middle)

/me watches the MWNY1999 halo demo and weeps

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jai
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awesomesauce

I've been looking forward to getting Marathon, but was worried that it wouldn't fair well being translated to the iPad and would seem unplayably outdated by today's standards.

Glad to hear that's not the case, so shall be giving this a go tonight.

As good as it was at the time, half the Marathon experience was the story and humour. And that's something that I don't think any FPS has ever managed to replicate. Even Halo is disappointing in this regard by comparison.

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Joypad controls and a real marathon game

The Nintendo N64 did a fair job with the Goldeneye control method I always thought...

Also, wasn't there some kind of game where you had to drive a bus through the desert for hours and correct its drift constantly or something?

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