Review by kirby_64

"There's beauty in blood."

Right from the beginning, Doom II is one of the most sadistic games you'll ever play. If Halo or Half-Life are your average everyday citizens, then this is the 30-year asylum veteran who's lost beyond the point of recovery and is even starting to support his own insanity. It's as though Doom II is a hellish entity whose endless lust for blood can never be satisfied. It never stops throwing bloodthirsty enemies your way, and doesn't give a damn about the results. It's just here for the fountains of blood and gore. Even the very beginning moment shows this, as it reveals a chainsaw and two zombiemen with their backs to you. This particular moment is definitely one to enjoy, and the best part is that the game never backs down from here.

Consider this: One level (notably named "Suburbs", just as a good idea of the layout) has you trekking through an old abandoned city, which just so happens to be filled to the top with monsters. I've had my fill of killing, and wanted to just get the hell out of there. So amidst an acid lake on the edge of the stage, lay a small series of platforms boasting a few imps. The summit of these platforms carries a blue Skull Key (hint: needed to finish the level). Naturally, you'll want this Skull Key ASAP, so you'll be one step closer to ridding your home planet of this hellish infestation. Yet, like most of Doom II's best moments, one key obstacle stands in your way, one which may prove to be one of the most cunning resistances yet. No, the Imps aren't the problem; a few Super Shotgun blasts will rid Earth of their poisonous presence. No, the acid lake isn't the problem; dashing without hesitation will greatly limit the damage you take.

Actually, your way out is your biggest enemy. Of course, this is completely inconspicuous at the moment. Do what most other people would do and unknowingly dash up the spiral steps to the top (and dancing a little victory jig, if you're that joyous). Then snatch that oh-so-lovable key. Now hell will laugh in your face as your hopeful gaze turns to one of anguish and shock as approximately a hundred monsters teleport in from an unknown location, one by one, all of which have but a lone intention. To leave you a smoldering pile of guts, and/or to leave themselves with the satisfaction of knowing that their conniving trap led to your grisly fate. Naturally, as a badass space marine, you're not one to stand there and take a direct blow to the ego so peacefully. Standing your ground and fighting, though, is a definite 'no', as all these enemies have long range offense and will wipe you out before you can say "My God". All your ammo put together won't likely wipe even half of them out. Yep, as much as your adrenaline is flowing, as much temptation as there is to grab one of those imps and introduce its anal regions to one of your friends (read: chaingun), you've been trained otherwise.

Perhaps dash and flee, to pull yourself together? It's not a good idea either. All the enemies are still there and will ceaselessly pursuit you until your death. But it's better than anything else there is at the moment, so run. Run like the wind, as your fiendish foes launch masses of fireballs, rockets, and plasma balls of goo. You run past the corner, stopping to look back out of curiosity as seemingly hundreds of deadly ranged-blasts fly past you and into the wall. Turning around and looking to your left, a red wall of sorts has four doors, one on each side. Each door conceals a weird-looking wall, but three cannot be passed. The fourth wall you can easily step through. It's definitely not the most inviting environment you could dream of, but the demon-infested landscapes everywhere else are no less unsettling.

A few demons here and there anticipated your little shenanigan, but your trusty rocket launcher will leave them a pile of mincemeat within a few seconds. You remain unfamiliar with your new shelter, so take a little time to explore. Once you drop a few walls, your eyes lay upon the single best mood-changing mechanism you could ever hope to find. The BFG 9000. This almighty shaper of Earth will turn anything bad into an advantage. Direct shots will kill mostly anything, and shots spread out for a wide blast radius, often killing whatever comes into contact with the lethal plasma. Rush forward, pick up your treasure, cuddle it lovingly (after giving a few quick checks to watch yourself for traps), and go to town. The sound of a massive collection of demon's war cries snaps you back to reality. Absolutely immaculate timing. You rush out of your shelter, and run in with guns blazing.

Sure enough, the BFG lives up to its name, as foes fall before your unstoppable onslaught. Just when you think things couldn't get any better though, Doom proves it's always one step ahead of you. A deep, quiet laugh emerges from several locations simultaneously, as a pair of Arch Viles drop in (note: For those unfamiliar, Arch Viles are some of the biggest bastards to ever grace gaming. They'll take away your health faster than you can snap, and can revive other enemies as well). One readies a spell of yellow fire around your body, but your BFG is faster. As Arch Vile #1 falls dead, you whirl around to find Arch Vile #2 reviving the enemies you fed your precious ammo to. You quickly ready your BFG and fire, but Arch Vile wises up to your tactics and rushes behind some shelter, leaving unscathed. You run around the corner and fire again, as your BFG clicks on empty. Damn it! Your rockets will have to back you up for now. The dominant thought in your troubled mind is how one trap can bring you from hopeful to desperate to hopeful and back to desperate again.

Doom II perfectly replicates the feel of both fear and instinct. That Rocket Launcher you see on that suspended platform there? Looks awfully tempting, but you never know what lays behind the walls. That lone weak enemy asking for a shotgun shell to the face? There may be more to the room that meets the eye. Or there isn't. Sometimes you'll be expecting a huge ambush, only to never get it. You'll want to kill everything, just to see the satisfaction of watching your nemesis crumble in a heap of dismembered body parts and an ocean of blood. But sometimes you can't do it, as there may be traps around. Sometimes Hell wants you dead, sometimes it'll psychologically torture you to the point of numbness. Adrenaline may lead you to victory, but will just as often lead you to your downfall.

This constant decision of shoot or ceasefire separates the men from the boys. There's a surprising layer of strategy in a game that's all about killing your foes and staying alive. But it doesn't stop there. I could go on, and mention the sweet graphics, the rocking soundtrack, the simple controls, the awesome multiplayer, the frantic co-op, or even the massive numbers of user-made maps (some are absolutely insane). But I won't. Doom II is as much about discovery as it is about killing. You won't truly experience the game until you play it on the highest difficulty levels, on a frantic run for your life, constantly telling yourself to not type in an invincibility cheat. You won't really appreciate the finer moments of hell until you run into a few deadly traps. Death doesn't matter, since it takes death to appreciate Doom II's finer qualities. This is exactly why Doom II is so good. It's conniving, treacherous, and best of all, unbelievably awesome.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 08/18/06

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