Review by samonkeyuk

"It never fails to amaze me how quickly things that once seemed so awesome.."

It never fails to amaze me how quickly things that once seemed so awesome, after a few months nearly always lose their initial appeal. This is never more apparent than in the world of computer games, where technology is moving forward at such a pace, games that were once considered graphically amazing now look so bad some of them are almost unplayable. A fine example of this is the original “Driver” on the Playstation; that looks bloody awful now. So it was with cautiousness that I reinstalled my old childhood friend “Doom 2”. Whilst the game was released in about 1994, I was at that time 9 years of age, and therefore far too young to play such violent pieces of entertainment software. However, I do have extremely fond memories of playing the game round my friend Stuarts house, when we were both 12. Obviously the huge hype that built up prior to the release of “Doom 2” had died down a lot by then, but that didn't stop us having a fantastic time, and thus I was unsure whether or not to install “Doom 2”, and as is usual when one replays old games, have my fine childhood memories spoilt.

But with the upcoming “Doom 3” bounding ever closer, like an eager and violent puppy, I decided to live life to the max and remind myself of what made me fall in love with the “Doom” series in the first place, and thank goodness I was not disappointed. The basic concept of “Doom 2” is to run around and shoot things, finding coloured keys and unleashing their unlocking power upon similarly coloured doors, and then repeat until you stumble across the exit to the level. This simplistic concept is moulded into something truly special in “Doom 2”, with a number of elements making the game a modern day classic, and one which has aged fantastically.

The levels are one of the key contributors to what could perhaps be called the “Doom experience”, one which spawned a thousand imitators. They start off small enough, but soon expand to epic proportions, each one a twisting labyrinth of corridors, and packed with secrets. From huge open plains to claustrophobic sewers, each level is expertly crafted and everyone will no doubt have a favourite level they replay time and time again. Indeed the later levels get so fiendish and complicated, you'll be thankful of the map function, which still remains one of the best navigation systems I have ever come across in a computer game, and means you'll never get lost or completely stuck.

Clearly these levels would be nothing if they were not packed full of monsters to shoot things at, and this is another area “Doom 2” excels at. It has, in my opinion, the strongest cast of enemies in perhaps any computer game ever, and given that none of the monsters say anything more than a furious trumpet of joy when they spot you, its down simply to the fantastic character design that they are as memorable as they are. Each one is different, and they are individually introduced slowly throughout the game, meaning you're constantly having to adapt your playing style to deal with these new threats. Some of the more fearsome monsters come with fantastic loud robotic walking sounds which continue to signify the fact that they are constantly searching for you, which is unnerving to say the least. The Cyberdemon still scares me today, which goes to show just how great the cast of monsters is.

The Guns, much like the monsters, are also extremely memorable, although perhaps slightly weak compared to some of the more sophisticated games we're used to today. You'll find no grenade launchers to unleash wall bouncing death here alas, but all the weapons are well balanced enough to stop you using just the one throughout the game, meaning you'll have to switch from the shotgun to the chaingun if you want to take out enemies that are further away, etc.

Perhaps one major criticism of “Doom 2” could be the fact that its pretty much the same gameplay throughout, simply trying to stay alive whilst finding the exit, but thankfully the superb atmosphere that's always present truly sucks you in and stops you from becoming bored, make no mistake this game is stupidly difficult, even on the easiest setting, and pumping up the difficulty level reduces ammo and pokes the monsters with a large stick to make them even more livid with rage, so you really do feel that you're fighting for your life in some parts, which is no bad thing. Whilst the game occasionally does the old “placing a monster behind a door” to get a quick reaction from the player, a lot of the time you're lured into getting big weapons and then suddenly set upon by multiple enemies, and this creates tension, as you never know where the next threat will come from.

The sound is, for the most part, pretty good. The music is quite “lift jazzy” though, its probably best to play the game without it, and the terrible out of breath noise your character makes when he's had a bit of a run quickly gets annoying, but then that's probably because I'm used to top notch sound nowdays. The graphics still remain quite impressive, they are cartoony rather than realistic, but this doesn't reduce their impact at all, I was surprised they're still as good as they are, and whilst its obviously not going to compete with “Halo” graphics-wise, its not a bad looking game, and one you'd probably buy a drink for if you met it in a bar.

So, to conclude then; “Doom 2”. Due to the fact that both of the “Doom” games can be downloaded for pretty much nothing, they must be shareware by now, it's pretty much impossible not to recommend them to you. Its important to remember that you're playing a piece of computer game history here, and one which helped inspire many of the games about today. Whilst one could argue that “Doom 2” is pretty much an add on for the original “Doom”, with little but new levels added, seeing as how they're both going for peanuts online, this criticism is a dated one. There's not really anything wrong with more of the same if its free, is there? Exactly. So yes; two thumbs up for this purchase. (Hmm I can't help but feel that was a rather weak ending to this review, oh well.)


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 08/12/04


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