I've been playing quite a lot of games recently, actually quite a lot of ONE game if you must know the truth. If you haven't noticed the title of this blog yet, yes, that game is none other that Doom 2.
Now, I'm a bit of a newbie when it comes to the doom franchise. The closest I've ever come to partaking in ID's Satanic series has been with the original Doom on my iPod. I quite enjoyed that game, as it was very refreshing to play a shooter of that labyrinthine design in an age when many shooters had much less open-ended approaches to level design. The only thing that was holding me back from fully singing the game's praises were the controls. I give credit to whoever ported it over on iOS, they really did the best they could, but the game simply was not designed to be played on a touch screen. I'm still glad I played it though, as it made me think about just how well the game would play with a keyboard and mouse.
Fast forward to the 2012 Steam Winter sale. I've got three bucks left in my steam wallet and I'm combing through the multitude of games that might just satiate my everlasting hunger for electronic entertainment. I feel like something old school; not too heavy. Something that's punishing, and lends itself well to short play sessions. Scrolling down the long list of games at absurdly low prices when suddenly...
Faster that you can say Cyberdemon, I purchase and download the game, and boot up this shining example of old school game design. Little did I know that I was about to embark on a journey to the fiery pits of hell themselves, and emerge victorious over the forces of evil with a shotgun in one hand, and a new favorite game in the other.
I started writing this blog with the intent to articulate just what makes this game a masterpiece and I'm going to do it god dammit! I apologize if my attempt to explain what makes Doom 2 one of my favorite videogames of all time devolves into unabashed gushing, but what can I say? The game's that good!
If anything, the second chapter in ID's defining series has only gotten better with age. Doom 2 contains an old-school design that has become rarer and rarer to find as the console generations have progressed. Even with the recent resurgence of "retro" games, there's a certain soul that can only be found in games from the 80's and 90's.
While some might say the graphics as the most old-school thing about this game I find that the most old-school thing about doom, and it's defining feature, is how it approaches gameplay. There are no lengthy tutorial sequences, exposition and background plot are thrown out the window. This game drops you right into the action without so much as a button-mapping screen. While I do admire games that offer a rich story, there are times when I would much rather have the game just shut up and get me playing right away. Doom 2 is perhaps one of the best examples of this pick-up and play mentality.
This cutting of fat carries over to the level design. The game moves at a breakneck pace, and avoids all of the puzzle solving and plodding progression present in some shooters. Levels are large and visually diverse, and avoid the pitfall of having virtually identical hallways, a problem that a lot of shooters back then struggled with. Everything feels meticulously designed and placed, and the game is just so much better for it. The enemies are designed with this fast-paced design in mind, as a lot of them do absurd amounts of damage. This is balanced out, difficulty wise, by them having a relatively low tolerance to bullets. This vulnerability ofboth both the monsters and yourself makes every enemy encounter potentially fatal, which helps build great tension between you and the game.
But what would those monsters be without means of dispatching them. This game continues the Doom tradition of having ridiculously satisfying weapons. Every blast you expel from your plasma or shotgun is accompanied by a fulfilling thump or buzz. Some might cite the weapons as disappointing though, considering that only one new gun was added to Doom Guy's arsenal, but I think the old weapons still had a lot of life in them at the time that this was released.
The games soundtrack does a lot to contribute to the hellish atmosphere of the game. It's a rather stark contrast to the original's head banging array of tracks, as it's a lot more ambient and spooky. I feel that in general, ID really did a lot to differentiate this sequel from the first Doom by making it more atmospheric in general. Levels are a lot larger than the first doom, and display some pretty impressive shadow and light effects for the time that this was released. It's by no means terrifying, but I have to admit, some of the surprise enemy placements in conjunction with the lighting and brilliant sound design had me jump out of my seat.
All of these features come together to make one of my new favorites, and Doom 2 has earned a place in my top five of all time for sure. If you've never really gotten into the Doom series, or are itching for an old-school shooter with fantastic design you should all definitely check it out on Steam or the 360. There is one caveat to the steam version however, it's rather poorly emulated and really takes a hit in regards to sound and graphics. If you do choose to purchase the game on Steam I recommend you use a source port, GZDOOM being one of my favorites. Either way, prepare yourself for a fantastic experience. Delightfully old school, deliciously atmospheric, and most importantly; fun.view gallery