Review: Doom II: Hell on Earth-Too Big For Its Bullets

I feel like hell.

When I write these reviews I normally dedicate a paragraph or two to an intro because I like detailing my personal history with what I write about and I can normally fit a few humorous anecdotes so I can add some personality to these pieces. I have zero history with Doom II. I never knew anyone that played it and whenever the topic of Doom came up within my circle of friends or other reviews I normally ever heard them talk about the original Doom or Doom 3. I knew almost nothing about this game going into it and assumed it was just going to be “Doom 1 but even better”. I was…kind of right I guess.

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Second verse, similar to the first.

Doom II is the sequel to id Software’s Doom and it was a pretty big deal at the time it was released, both for the public and for id. For one the game outright ditched the shareware model id’s other games had a went straight through with a big box release because many gamers only played the first shareware episode of Doom 1 and never purchased the full game so it made sense to make sell Doom II as a standalone product. You gotta keep the lights on somehow, right? The game also came out a full year after the original, releasing in 1994, and offered a multitude of improvements including more weapons, bigger maps, improved lighting and textures, more levels, and even the removal of the first games episode-based structure. Doom II now uses a level-based campaign so it could not only tell its story in a more cohesive way but to make the progression feel more organic since the player gets to keep their weapons throughout the entire campaign. Doom II also amps the atmosphere up by having a much more understated soundtrack but the aforementioned lighting makes the environments feel much more desolate and anxiety-inducing. By all accounts, Doom II is an amazing game and, in many aspects, blows the original out of the water.


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Get used to seeing this face.

Let me make myself clear: I do not think Doom II is a bad game, far from it. I think id Software took the brilliant foundation that the first game had and built it into something amazing and you can still see modern FPS games use its conventions. The game made me feel anxious and gave me a rush of energy and stress that I haven’t felt in a game in a long time. When the game is good, it’s DAMN good. My issues mainly lie in everything else, mainly the level design. I mentioned in my last review that I wasn’t a fan of the more sprawling levels in the original Doom and while Doom II’s levels are unquestionably impressive, they’re even bigger and confusing than before. I cannot tell you how many times I got lost in these levels looking for a stupid keycard or a hidden passageway and it CERTAINLY wasn’t helped by its enemy placement. Doom II has a real nasty habit of hiding high-level enemies behind key doors and switches and shoving large groups of Barons and Cacodemons into tiny ass rooms with limited room to maneuver. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes they’re really funny and can provide a good challenge but by the end of the game, I was just audibly saying “Oh come on….” out loud because I just wanted to get across a bridge or walk down the stairs. At best it can be annoying, at worst it can be downright prankish.

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Too big. TOO big. I’ve been to actual, real-life cities that are smaller than this.

I’m gonna be real here guys, I can’t think of much else to say. Doom II is a good game and I can absolutely see its quality and historical significance, it just wore out its welcome by the time I saw the credits. Would I recommend it? Hell yeah absolutely. I can see this game appealing to a lot of people and with the crazy amount of secrets this game has (including one REALLY cool secret level I won’t spoil) it has tons of replayability and content to experience. Hell, I’d even recommend the Switch port of it this time since it’s FAR more stable than the port of Doom 1 and includes the Master Levels and cheat codes..which I had to use once because I quicksaved my own death. Doom II is a natural evolution of Doom both in terms of positive and negative and while it’s certainly not for me, I can’t deny that it’s a great first-person shooter and well worth your time.

Fuck the Arch-Vile though, he can suck one.

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