Many gamers of my generation spent countless hours battling the demons of Hell in the DOOM (Doom) games. I fondly remember firing up the ole 28.8 modem to connect with a neighborhood friend for some late night co-op fests. The original Doom has been available on XBLA for years, but only late last month did Doom II make itself available. That's certainly a welcome addition to the Marketplace, but the coolest part of this release is the inclusion of an all new episode of nine levels from Nerve Software. So whether you are a Doom veteran looking for some nostalgia or to enjoy a whole new episode of mayhem, or an FPS fan that wants to play a true legend of the genre, Doom II on XBLA is an excellent choice.
The Fight Continues
I've played an awful lot of FPS games over the years, but few have ever managed to capture the instant accessibility, addictiveness, and sheer charm of the original Doom games. I don't think there is any one part of Doom or Doom II that makes it this way, either. It's the combination of the level design, the graphics, the music, the classic weapons and enemies, and the fun of dealing with dozens of demons with friends or alone. It also managed to combine raw action with an uneasy fear that is best understood by playing it.
So Doom II picks up after the ending of the original Doom which saw the demons coming to literally unleash Hell on Earth, even killing the protagonist's pet bunny (Fluffy). Appropriately, many of Doom II's levels have a generic urban look to them that is meant to reflect Earth. You'll find all of your favorite enemies and weapons from the original Doom romp, plus many new enemies and the super shotgun. The super shotgun is the ultimate demon slayer, while the new chaingunner (aka Heavy Weapon Dude), Arch Vile, Pain Elemental, and Revenant, will keep you strafing like there's no tomorrow. You could really argue that one of the best things about Doom II is the number and variety of the enemies; they're true classics.
Controlling your space marine is easy, which is good since the control scheme isn't adjustable. LT is assigned to run, but you can also enable auto-run in the options. Running and strafing are absolutely vital to survive, and it was in Doom that many gamers learned these techniques that would help them in every other FPS game since. Weapon switching is assigned to Y and B, interact is assigned to A, X for the map, and RT to shoot. It's about as straight-forward and reliable as you can get, and if you're coming off a history of playing Doom II on the PC, it won't take you long to adjust to controlling the action.
As far as the presentation, Doom II looks and feels very similar to the original Doom. More specifically for this particular release, the XBLA version maintains the same classic look, feel, and audio package as what I remember from the PC. It's no secret that the Doom games have been ported to a number of platforms over the years, which speaks volumes about its continuing popularity, but it's great (if not expected) that the XBLA port is so spot on.
I'm happy that this port keeps the essence of the original intact, but what I'm most excited about in this
release is the addition of a new episode, "No Rest For the Living." Developed by Nerve Software, these additional nine levels take place back on Earth. With levels like "The Earth Base," "Canyon of the Dead," Inferno of Blood," and the "Tomb of Malevolence," you can bet you're in for a bloodsoaked good time. I thought Nerve did a great job with these levels for the campaign, and they're available for multiplayer co-op and deathmatch too, just like all of the Doom II levels are.
Multiplayer is available in split-screen or online. Modes include classic Deathmatch, which supports four players, or co-op, which supports 2-4 players. Being able to play locally or online is a great feature. I didn't experience any trouble on either medium with either mode. Each player can change their marines' suit color, and you can set Frag and Time Limits for Deathmatch mode. Frag limits can be Unlimited, while the Time Limit is capped at twenty minutes. Honestly, it's just as easy to get hooked into playing hours of Doom with friends as it is any modern game. Again, there's just a certain charm amongst these Doom
games, especially Doom II and especially when played on high difficulty levels with friends, that makes them so satisfying and enjoyable.
There are ten Achievements to be earned if you're up for it. Most of the Achievements are pretty easy, but one, defeating a Cyberdemon with your fists, will pose a good challenge. Other Achievements include 100%'ing a level, completing a level on Nightmare difficulty, and finding a secret area in a level.
There's a lot of reason to make this your next purchase on the Game Marketplace. Hopefully we'll see these Doom games on the PSN someday, but somehow I doubt it. Regardless, you shouldn't miss this.