Beck, Marathon, and Final Doom *LINK*
Posted By: Bob-B-QDate: 5/27/23 9:09 p.m.

Or, how I watched meatball flavor direct-to-video schlock so you don’t have to.

While gathering materials for a recent project, I stumbled across a reminder of an old and obscure bit of Bungie history. This tale began with a letter to the Bungie Webmaster, published in 1998:

Did you know that right now there is a movie playing in Sweden called Beck 2. The movie is about Sweden's best policeman who gets involved with a mysterious murder case. In that movie they play Marathon 2, but they call it Final Doom and it's played by psychos in the Stockholm subway.

-Stefan Arnborg

To which the man in the ape suit replied:

Well, for what it's worth, there was actually a non-Bungie game called Final Doom, and it sold principally to psychos who live in the Stockholm subways, so the game in the movie may not have been Marathon 2.

Nonetheless, I'd love to see the film just to make sure, so if any of you Swedish film buffs can get me a copy on NTSC video (or tell me where I can find such a beast), I'll make it worth your while.

No word on whether he ever got that NTSC copy. Eventually clips from the movie were uploaded online, confirming that the game was indeed Marathon 2. The story has periodically resurfaced over the years but I don’t recall anyone documenting it in detail, nor could I find anything substantial in searches of the Story Page and Story Forum. So I decided to take a shot at it myself.

First of all, what is this “Beck” thing?

Beck is a Swedish crime drama serial, one of several adaptations of a book series published in the 1960s and 70s. The first episode debuted in 1997 and the show remains in production as of 2023, having accumulated nearly fifty episodes. I don’t know who watches this, but they clearly like it. Wikipedia has articles for both the series as a whole and the episode of interest:


Beck is also available with English subtitles on Amazon Prime Video, where it is described thus:

He's got no style, no flash and he's squarely in middle age. But Swedish detective Martin Beck is good at catching criminals so that they can be put away for a long time. His tightly-wound partner is his opposite: an impulsive man who never met a boundary he didn't cross. It's good cop/bad cop, and together they bring down criminals in the seedy Stockholm underworld.

Stefan’s description back in 1998 was more or less correct. Although titled "Beck 2" when released in theaters, its episodic name is “Spår i mörker” (“Trails in Darkness”) and it’s the eighth and final episode of the first series. Amazon gives it the blander title “Night Vision” for some reason. The main plot is about a gang of aberrant youths who play violent games and roam the Stockholm subway with machetes and night vision goggles, cutting throats to get frags and level up in real life. Heavy undertones of boomer angst about the kids these days with their gangsta raps and murder simulators.

After watching the episode, I’d say it’s not great but not quite as awful as I expected going in. It has a lot in common with the British crime dramas my parents used to watch: much of the runtime is taken up by petty drama in Beck’s private and professional lives. He’s dating a colleague, other colleagues don’t like it, he’s upset his vacation got canceled, has fights with his girlfriend, and so on. I don’t find Beck particularly likable, nor competent. At separate points both he and his partner nearly get themselves killed needlessly rushing into the underground without backup, causing a key witness to die along the way. Anything to keep the drama flowing, I suppose.

Okay, I hear you ask, but where does Marathon come into it?

Marathon comes into play roughly three quarters through the episode, and again just before the climax. The game is repeatedly called “Final Doom” and the subway killers apparently use it to communicate with each other and like-minded menaces around the world. There are also some clumsy references to 1337 speak. It’s a bit like the time Law & Order introduced the concept of incels by having a cop search for “Chad” and “Stacey” on the dark web.

But I digress. As the Webmaster noted way back when, Final Doom was a real thing. Specifically, a pair of fan-made Doom II mission packs that id Software released as a standalone game in June of 1996. A Macintosh port followed in December. Reviews at the time were mixed: the Doom engine was showing its age, there was lots of good free content to play, and Quake was right around the corner. On the bright side, Final Doom contributor Dario Casali went on to have a long and successful career at Valve Software.

The game played by Stockholm subway psychos (say that fast) is not id Software’s Final Doom. Clips of it have been available in the Story Page’s Blasts from the Past section for a while, though they lack subtitles. And you’ll need those subtitles to appreciate how silly it all is. There’s a subtitled copy of the first scene on YouTube:


In this clip, Beck’s girlfriend/coworker Lena is examining a computer taken from a suspect’s apartment. It was earlier shown running a DOS or Windows control program for the Stockholm subway (the psychos hack the subway to turn off the lights, very Hollywood) and Windows 3.1 software diskettes were found with it.

As the fake TV forensics love to say, zoom and enhance.

-The splash image doesn’t look anything like the real Final Doom logo, which doesn’t appear like that in the game to begin with. Each of its two mission packs are launched separately and have their own splash screens with their respective titles, Evilution and The Plutonia Experiment.
-The HUD is hidden, but you know what this is the moment the first Pfhor Fighter appears. I don’t think they hired a pro mapper to make this maze, it looks boring as hell.
-The fist has been crudely replaced with a machete and the Fighter death sound with a human scream.
-Lena says some nonsense about a hidden file. Bet she found it on the dark web.
-A “Quit game?” dialog pops up. Despite the x86 stuff shown before, it’s clearly running on Mac OS. Lena acts like she got booted out of her session. Just pretend you didn’t see a cancel button in the dialog box.
-A configuration file is shown, but it’s for a Quake engine game.
-Back in the fake game we have a BOB and a F’lickta, seemingly with no AI enabled. The BOB sprite has been edited to put a big X-( on his back. The cops make a big deal about how this is 1337 speak for “dead” and the psychos paint it at the scenes of their murders. And on a wall outside the apartment where the computer was found, because Beck would never catch them otherwise.
-A Marathon terminal in action. The images and content text are custom additions, but it still has the standard UESCTerm header and footer strings.

The rest of that YouTube clip is the interrogation of the seized computer’s Final Doom player, a delinquent named Annika. Not much of interest there except a name drop for the fake game.

Marathon’s other appearance in the episode, shown in the third clip on the Story Page, comes when Beck and the Stockholm SWAT raid the psychos’ hideout only to find them gone. A creepy little kid is playing Final Doom, with sound effects more fitting in a 1980s arcade game. Annika boots him off the computer and closes Final Doom, briefly showing the Marathon 2 main menu. Then she brings up the DOS/Windows subway program and finds the psychos are all out raiding one particular station. You can read the rest on Wikipedia if you’re dying to know how it ends.

So why was Marathon 2 impersonating a game that was real, available, and had a bigger modding community than the substitute? Final Doom was probably chosen as the psychos’ game of choice during the writing phase. Doom was after all a famous and controversial franchise, figuring prominently in moral panics related to gaming. But I doubt the showrunners actually played it, otherwise we wouldn’t have the absurdity that resulted.

Maybe they got into the production phase and discovered the real Final Doom couldn’t do whatever the writer had put in the screenplay. Or they had/found someone who already knew how to mod Marathon and took the easy route. I don’t think id Software sent a cease and desist, since the showrunners kept the name and tried to make it look like a PC game. Perhaps somebody out there knows of a salacious tell-all.

If you want to watch Beck for yourself, the price on Amazon is currently $3.99 for the episode or $25.99 for the whole first series. If you want to own the genuine Final Doom, it’s bundled with Doom II and the Master Levels for $4.99 on Steam and GOG. If you want an unmolested copy of Marathon 2... Well, you know where it is and what it costs.

Final rating: lol/10 for the fake game, meh/10 for everything else. I award Martin Beck no Blåhaj, and may the chef have mercy upon his soul.

The killer could be anyone in Helgasund

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Pre-2004 Posts


Beck, Marathon, and Final Doom *LINK*Bob-B-Q 5/27/23 9:09 p.m.
     Re: Beck, Marathon, and Final DoomGodot 5/28/23 2:11 a.m.
           Re: Beck, Marathon, and Final DoomBo Lindbergh 5/28/23 11:28 a.m.
     Re: Beck, Marathon, and Final DoomJabberwok 5/28/23 3:16 a.m.
           Re: Beck, Marathon, and Final DoomBob-B-Q 5/30/23 7:51 a.m.

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Pre-2004 Posts



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