Back in 1994, a sequel to the game that put first-person shooters on the map (Doom) graced the PC. Much like its predecessor, Doom II helped define the genre with simplistic gameplay, secrets to find and plenty of demons to shoot into a bloody mess. Following Doom’s success on the XBLA, Bethesda was kind enough to release this stellar, albeit extremely dated, FPS on the service as well.
Like the versions of Doom and Wolfenstein 3D before it, Doom II has come to the XBLA unchanged and is just as fun to play now as it was 16 years ago. Everything from the original has been transferred to the XBLA version, so unlike other remakes, the graphics, sound and gameplay are identical to the 1994 version. This, of course, is not a bad thing. If you loved it back then, you will love it now. While I would have loved to see an updated HD version of this awesome game, I’m kind of glad it was kept to its original form. Don’t fix what isn’t broken, and Doom II is far from broken.
For those that are unfortunately unacquainted with Doom II, here is a quick run-down. You go from level to level in search of the exits in each stage. These stages are inhabited by demons that need to be taken out before they send you to your eternal resting place. If this sounds really easy, well it is-at first. But in the later levels, you meet other demons that can be really hard to kill. Fortunately enough, as you progress to other levels, you find bigger guns that can splatter those wicked demons across the map.
For all those players that feel the need to search for secrets, Doom II has plenty of secrets to find in each level, some of which get you that bigger, badder gun a little earlier than for those that don’t want to search the stage. That’s pretty much the premise of this game. While there’s not a lot to do, the game is addicting and very amusing. From the start, you will see that Doom II has a dark sense of humor and tons of personality. When you pick up that badass weapon, the character’s face at the bottom of the screen will flash an evil grin. And as you take more and more damage, the face you get bloodier and bloodier.
The controls have transferred from PC to XBLA rather nicely. It controls like any modern FPS but there are some noticeable features missing. For example the ability to jump and look up and down are not there. So what do you do when an enemy is on a platform above you? Well the auto-aim will take care of that problem for you. If there is a platform you need to get on, you need to somehow get above where you need to be and hold down the A button to make your character sprint and fall down to the platform. So while these abilities are not there, the game compensates for it rather well.
Doom II is can be a very hard and unforgiving game but you do have the ability to save at any point during gameplay. So if you find yourself getting frustrated with the game and need to walk away from it, you can save and pick up where you left off. And since the game is so old, you should have no trouble searching the internet for tips on how to get through the trouble spots. Like older games, there is a lot of going back and forth. You come upon a switch, hit it and you hear a door open, but that door might not be in the same area you are in so you have to go and search the area for it. Luckily, if you open up your map, you can see where you have been and where you haven’t.
Like Doom on the XBLA, Doom II supports online co-op and competitive modes. Also like the first game, it suffers from some lag. This is most noticeable when you move or trying to aim to get off your shot. It doesn’t make the game unplayable but it does make you compensate for the lag. It’s just a matter of getting used to it.
One thing that was added is a brand new chapter called No Rest for the Living which adds a few new levels for you to roam around in. So that’s a little extra incentive to pick this game up. There are also the addition of Achievements and Avatar Awards that you can unlock including a full set of Doom marine armor for your virtual self.
Doom II holds its own against today’s shooters. Hell, it helped them become the games we have grown to know and love. Even though the game is unchanged, the personality, the simple style of play and the blowing up demons into a pixilated bloody mess, plus the new episode make this game worth a purchase even though the multiplayer suffers from that inexcusable lag. But you can overlook that because it’s Doom II and it’s awesome. And it always will be.
Review copy provided by publisher.