The Halo-Marathon connection

I know several web sites exist to extensively archive every single tiny little detail about the Halo/Marathon/Myth storylines and mythologies. That’s great. But I want to act on my observation skills just once, so let’s pretend those websites aren’t around for a moment. I am playing Halo through a second time, and I noticed during the opening cinema of the last level, “The Maw”, that the symbol/logo of the Marathon ship and game series appears on the ride side of the Pillar of Autumn. So is this proof or what that Halo and Marathon take place in the same game universe?

Marathon, for those who don’t know, is a trilogy of Doom era FPS games that were all the rage on Macs back in the day. I never got into them, though, because I cared nothing for the emphasis on story and key hunting puzzles. However, I will chime in and say that the Marathon games are very likely the first FPSs ever to feature AI teammates.

I know you weren’t looking for a web page, but here’s one of the best explanations of the connection, written by Bungie folks:

The very first Halo logo art had the Marathon symbol in the background, so it seems a given that the two are connected. Halo takes place sometime during the Marathon’s trip to Tau Ceti, if I’m remembering the dates correctly. It can probably be surmised that you play a more advanced type of cyborg than that of the Marathon games, and Cortana is clearly a more sophisticated AI than Tycho or even Durandal. I haven’t read the Fall of Reach novel, which I suppose would explain in more detail.

Also note that Oni is connected to the storyline as well. In that game are many Marathon technologies in their bare infancy, including AI constructs. And let’s not forget Pathways into Darkness, in which a Jjaro diplomat arrives to warn Earth of the Sleeping God buried in the Yucatan. The Jjaro were later revealed to be something of a master race that created both the S’pht and the Phfor of Marathon fame, and the Sleeping God bears an awfully close resemblance to beings mentioned in the latter part of the Marathon trilogy who were essentially unimaginably advanced alien giants. One of them went by the name W’rkcentr or something like that.

I have often wondered if the Halo is a Jjaro construct. I’d love to see some reference to the Marathon project in Halo 2 in passing or something.

</Bungie junkie>


Probably just another cute Bungie tie-in, a little special nostalgic something for the fans fans of the Marathon series. Kind of like how one of the levels has a track from Myth if you get off the beaten path with a banshee on “Assault on the Control Room”.

Although, it could very well be a universe tie-in. There are, apparently, a bunch of similarities. Didn’t Marathon have the SPNKr too? I’d be inclined to check if the Windows versions didn’t insist on trying to install DX2.

Hope Bungie do something new after Halo 2. Maybe they’ can get Mumbo Jumbo to do Halo 3 for them.

Man I hope not. Don’t even get me started on the mess that is Myth 3. Even the community patch is messy.

Maybe I’m just delusional, but I seem to remember reading somewhere that the Myth universe actually ties in with all of the other Bungie universes. In other words, Myth is the far distant past, Pathways is near the present, Oni is the near future, and Halo/Marathon are quite a way off. And as for Minotaur…beats me.

Gotta love Bungie though. Some of the best storytelling, physics, and gameplay in the business, hands down. Also, some of the best art around:

I dunno if they are the best but their ability to stick to continuity apparently throughout most if not all of their multi-genre games should be applauded.

— Alan

It was my understanding that Halo takes place well after Marathon Infinity. Isn’t the last Marathon game in like the 24th or 25th century? Halo is in 25xx, right?

Anyway, in Marathon you’re a Mjolnir (I’m spelling that wrong I know) Mark IV Cyborg.

They don’t specifically state who/what you are in Halo, but they DO say in the manual you wear “Mjolnir armor” that is connected to you through cybernetic implants and such. You, whoever you are, are part of the Spartan II program, where you were genetically engineered to be a badass, trained to be a badass, and then paired up with the Mjolnir armor.

Sometimes during gameplay in Halo, one of the marines will point to you and say “Look, a Mark Five!”

The Cortana AI is special, one of a new breed of AI that is formed from the personality of a living, or at one time living, person. This was some kind of effort to stop them from going “rampant” ala the AIs in Marathon.

If you haven’t checked out that URL, do so. It gives some nice hints about the tie-ins without being completely specific and giving away everything to look for.

I really hope Halo 2 makes more direct tie-ins. Actual references to Mark IVs, the Marathon ship (maybe even visiting its wreckage! oo!!), stuff like that. Just sprinkled in here and there.

Here’s a thing - at the beginning of Halo, go in the Bridge and chat with the commander, then go kill crazy on your erstwhile colleagues. One of the things the marines shout as they try to murder you is something like ‘He’s gone rampant!’. They could be talking about Cortana, but it’s an interesting choice of phrase… You could couple that with what Cortana says, to the effect that the suit internal architecture is similar to the Pillar of Autumn and hypothesize that you/the Mjonir are AIs, perhaps?

As a side note, I think the advantage of this kind of self-consistent mythologising is that it really lends itself to pondering the connections and seeing new ones that, even if not intended by the creators still have validity and enrich the play experience.

I feel that way about the Matrix movies, despite all the whining about ‘pseudo-philosophical blather’ you see on some boards. Compare this with Star Trek/Star Wars where the creators quite clearly pull the rationales/backstories out of their ass as needed.

In the game they don’t tell the Master Chief’s history, no, but the book pretty much says it all.

I’m glad I read this before I played Halo because the game made alot more sense after having just read this short novel.