DOOM 2 Review - Bigger and Better Over the Top Action
Upon returning to Earth after having fought your way through the demonic realms of Hell, you are rewarded with an unexpected sight of death and destruction. While you're in Hell, the demons began to invade Earth, killing or possessing all they encounter, including your pet rabbit Daisy. Those who survived the invasion plan on evacuating Earth using spaceships.
The starport, however, has been captured by the demonic forces who have placed a barrier preventing all ships from taking off. You must battle through the demonic hordes and make your way to the starport to deactivate the barrier, allowing the survivors to escape. You are humanity's last hope for survival.
DOOM 2: Hell on Earth is the sequel to the 1993 FPS worldwide phenomenon that was DOOM. The game is an FPS developed by Id Software and published by GT Interactive. It released in 1994 on PC and was later ported to other systems including the Game Boy Advance and Tapwave Zodiac.
It has been distributed through various online distributors in recent years including XBOX Live, Steam and GOG.com. It is also available on the PlayStation Network as part of the DOOM Classic Collection. DOOM 2 takes everything good from the original and refines it, creating a bigger, more intense, and more over-the-top experience than that of the original. Some of the problems present in the original are also in the sequel.
Nothing left to lose
I am continuing my journey of playing the entire series of DOOM in the preparation for the upcoming reboot on May 13th. After playing and reviewing the original DOOM, I wasted no time jumping straight into its sequel.
The plot to DOOM 2 takes place right where the first game finished, with Doom Guy (the player) having returned home. After being assigned to security on the UAC Mars Base, an experiment with teleportation between Mars two Moons Deimos and Phobos ended in disaster.
A portal opened within the base causing demons and evil spirits to enter; killing or possessing everyone. Doom Guy then fought through the base, reaching the Deimos complex which had disappeared only to find it had transported to the edge of Hell.
Having fought through the Deimos complex and through Hell itself, Doom Guy finally returns home to Earth only to find the demons have invaded. Those who survived the invasion are planning on evacuating using spaceships. The starport is under demonic control, and a barrier has been placed to stop any ships leaving.
Doom Guy battles his way through to the starport, deactivates the barrier and saves the last of humanity. Upon completing his mission and sitting down waiting for his death, he realizes the portal cannot be closed from Earth. With humanity saved and nothing left to lose, Doom Guy enters the portal to Hell in an attempt to close it, killing as many demons along the way as possible.
DOOM 2 isn't all that different from first title, particularly in the plot. The story is in no way original or fantastic. It is similar to that of the '80s or '90s action flicks of a one man army (think Arnold Schwarzenegger) that kills everything.
The big guns, demons and fast paced action are all that DOOM 2 needs or offers. If you are looking for an epic, detailed and well-written plot, this is not going to be it.
DOOM 2 is bigger, louder, and better
If there were ever a sequel done right, DOOM 2 would be it. A sequel should improve what the previous game offered, and the stakes should raise. Everything from the last game should be preparation for what is to come, and this sequel does that brilliantly.
Id Software refined what made the first title great, bringing more action, bigger maps, more enemies and better level design. This refinement creates a chaotic experience of pure ludicrous over-the-top gory violence that is unmatched by anything else.
As any sequel should, DOOM 2 brings new features to the table, including a new weapon, power-up, environment, standard enemy and a boss that would give you nightmares for months. The new weapon is the Super Shotgun, essentially a double barrel shotgun, which is capable of blasting any demon straight back to the hell mother it came from.
The new power-up is the Mega Sphere, which increases the players Health and Armour to a total of 200 each no matter their levels upon picking it up. The new enemy is the Arch-Vile a bullet sponge monstrosity with an extremely powerful fire attack and the ability to resurrect fallen demons.
The new environment is made up of city levels, consisting of buildings the player has to navigate around to find the level exit. All the boss monsters from the previous game are in DOOM 2 as less frequent regular enemies including the Spiderdemon and Cyberdemon.
The game is one single episode instead of the entirety of the game taking place over a series of episodes. Playing from start to finish allows the player to play the game without losing their weapons at any point. Despite Id Software ramping up the action to almost double of what it was in the original game they still manage to maintain the same quality of the atmosphere, level design and overall gameplay.
A tighter level design with reoccurring issues.
The level design of DOOM 2 is without a doubt tighter and more linear in comparison to that of the original DOOM, where levels had a small amount of exploration to them. Having the levels more linear than the original is not necessarily a bad thing. It allows for a more constant road of action than that of DOOM, as the player rarely navigates away from the path of progression. It also allowed Id Software to create bigger areas filled to the brim with enemies charging towards the player often resulting in a massacre.
The levels on Earth have a beautiful presentation to them that shows the destruction the demons have caused along with a merging of the two worlds. The levels have various gory features such as dead bodies and satanic imagery that are familiar from visiting Hell in the previous game.
All the gory and satanic images help to create this sense of being in a living Hell or at least, the closest thing imaginable to it. It makes for a wonderful atmosphere of dread and vulnerability despite it being an over-the-top action game.
DOOM 2, thankfully, no longer has instances of being able to get stuck in a pool of acid or lava where the player was forced to die. In any scenario that feels like this, there is always a way out, either by interacting with the walls or finding a switch.
It does, however, still have the issue of individual levels causing confusion, particularly with teleporters. Having to figure out what teleporter leads to where can at times get confusing and slow down the pace of the game. Some of the city maps can also cause confusion due to having to navigate through some big and tall buildings within a single level. Figuring out how to get into each building is not always an easy task.
Despite the issues, the level design is equally as good if not slightly better than that of the first game.
No Rest for the Living
For the release of DOOM 2 on XBOX Live Arcade, an expansion was developed by Nerve Software consisting of 9 new levels, eight standard levels, and one secret level. It was later added to DOOM 3 BFG Edition and for DOOM Classic Complete on the PlayStation Network.
The story of the expansion revolves around Doom Guy having to travel to a pocket dimension of Hell where a Cyberdemon is building an army of demons for his personal use. Doom Guy has to kill the Cyberdemon before he gathers an army big enough to be a threat.
Nerve Software do an excellent job with the expansion, keeping the overall feel, atmosphere, and level design in line with that of Doom 2. The levels are big, and they are chaotic and -- in some cases -- interesting. In the fourth level, Hell Mountain, the player has to battle their way up a mountain to a castle that sits at the top.
Getting to the castle is not an easy task as not only do you have enemies attacking while making your way up, but once you reach the top enemies are attacking from the castle walls. The player selects the expansion upon starting a new game, similar to that of the episode selection of the first game. It is like starting a whole new game, resulting in only having your pistol at the beginning.
The only issue with the expansion is that it is not compatible with a lot of the mods which players use to modernize their experience. Brutal Doom V20B is one example of this. It increases resolution and modernizes controls along with adding a ton of other features. Other than that the expansion is a fantastic experience and an excellent addition to the XBOX, PlayStation and BFG versions of the game.
Excellent but not for everyone
As with the first game, DOOM 2 is a great game that combines, over-the-top action, gore, violence, atmosphere, satisfying guns and memorable enemies to create an experience like no other. It may have it's minor level design flaws, but apart from that, there is nothing but crazy fun to have.
In my review for the DOOM, I mention that it may not appeal to all FPS fans due to its dated controls, graphics and low resolution. The same very much still applies to DOOM 2. The player is unable to look up or down or jump, and the enemies are in the form of sprites as oppose to 3D models.
There are mods which can fix the controls and low-resolution issues, but if you are looking for an experience as it was back in 1994 without mods, it may not appeal. If you can tolerate the dated controls, graphics, and low resolution, however, you are in for a crazy FPS experience.
DOOM 2 is available to buy on GOG.com for €5.39 ($5.99) and Steam for €9.99 ($4.99). Alternatively, the entire classic DOOM collection is available to buy on Steam for €14.99 ($14.99) containing DOOM, DOOM 2, Final DOOM and Master Levels of DOOM 2.