Doom is great! I am sure few people will disagree on that. It was a fantastic leap for the FPS genre and a brutal, satisfying game to play. Still, it had its shortcomings, especially when it came to level design. I hate to say it, but Doom really did need a world wherein Doom II exists to back it up.
Hell on earth
The story is once again kept simple and limited to a handful of text screens that appear from time to time throughout the game’s missions. We resume the military career of Doomguy the Space Marine, now back on earth as Demons pour in to slaughter all of humanity. We, of course, set out to slaughter them right back and save the human race from certain extinction.
Mechanically there is little difference between the two games, which is not that weird seeing as Doom II released mere months after Doom first came out. It features the same, gratifying run & gun gameplay, with the only real addition being a variant of the shotgun that has more spread to it, but packs an insane punch at close range. Everything else is the same, it’s the packaging around it that makes all the difference.
Level design in Doom II is just so much more inspired than what it was before. Rather than the labyrinthine, repetitive hallways that plagued the original. The levels are still complex in their layout and often had me puzzling my way through them, but not because they were so big I had no clue where to go or entirely hid the way forward. Many are actually rather small and they lead you through it naturally. This means it never takes too long to get back into the action; explore a bit, kill enemies, hit switches and find keycards, then work your way to new places that have been unlocked by doing so. Finally, I was getting stuck in Doom because the enemies were challenging, not because I was bored, sad, and lost.
That said, besides the new shotgun and improved level-design, there are also a number of new enemies to fight with. The first few enemies were a tad lame, as they only introduced variations on existing enemies. There is a possessed soldier that uses the chaingun, a tiny version of the Spider Demon, a new type of Cacodemon, it wasn’t very impressive to start off with. Later on, you’ll get to face off against fantastic new foes like the Revenants, Arch Viles, and Mancubi, all of which are great additions to the roster.
These new foes also add to the increased difficulty of the game. Doom II gave me a much harder time, yet never to the point of frustration. You do still lose all your equipment after dying, so consider saving at the start of every level if you were still holding on to that BFG.
Gameplay score: 8/10
Unlike the leap from Wolfenstein 3D to Doom, this sequel doesn’t feature much new visually or in terms of music. Once again there is a superb soundtrack of atmospheric tracks to accompany you as you blast your way through the stages and all the textures and enemies look great. There is a bit more variety and this helps stages look more unique, but I feel the more realistic layout of some stages leaves some of the urban levels looking a bit lame.
Presentation score: 8/10
I hate to say it, but Doom really did need a worl- oh wait, I already said that in my intro. Well, it does bear repeating because the more I played of Doom II, the more it felt like the first game with all my prominent complaints scrapped out. Both titles are fast, exhilarating, and stylish to play, it’s just Doom II does it better. If you aren’t here to relive history, then you may as well skip ahead and just play this one.