How the “hell” do you follow up on such a well received and crafted game such as Doom? Why, give players more of the same it seems. Doom II was very similar to the first game, but it worked and fans clearly had an appetite for more. This release, to celebrate 25 years of the franchise, includes the lot. You get the levels from the original, as well as “The Master Levels”, which are community designed challenges which the developers themselves supervised. So, once again, we ask how well has the game aged a quarter of a century on?
This time round, the levels play out in one continuous string, rather than being split into “chapters”. There is also no world map indicating where you are heading after each one; you just get the name of the level itself, which adds a little to the mystery. Rest assured, you’ll still be exploring UAC facilities, as well as plunging into Hell itself. You’re thrown into the action straight away, as if it’s assumed you’ve played the first game so will instantly be able to pick up and play. As I say, there are huge similarities to the first Doom.
The game employs the exact same control scheme as the first – you still can’t jump or manually aim above your line of vision. However, sprinting seems to be more useful this time round, for clearing gaps and reaching precious health and ammo. It’s even more important than ever to run and gun, because standing still means certain death.
The design of the levels are similar, but feel slightly bigger this time round, with you often able to explore in whichever way you like. This helps the environment to feel more open, but you’ll still be spending plenty of time tracking down those familiar coloured keycards. And rest assured, switches will still open hidden doors packed with demons all looking to take a chunk out of you. Turning each corner is a potential death trap, just as it should be in Doom.
Doom II gets pretty difficult after the first few levels. It doesn’t take long before you’re encountering all sorts of big bad demons that can take a good few rounds before they take the knock. It can feel like a bit of a slog for those not up for the challenge, and there is even a level which is literally made up of several rooms you need to clear in turn, each full to the brim of one enemy type. It’s here where you have to make use of some tactical saving, because if you forget then, you guessed it, it’s all the way back to the start of the level. If you save regularly, you’ll get to load up with all your weapons, whereas you’ll lose them if you die, making things very difficult indeed with just your pistol.
Thankfully, Doom II introduces some new weapons to help you along. The Super Shotgun makes its debut, and is pretty damn cool. Essentially a double barrelled version of the regular shotgun, using two shells at a time, it really is essential when faced with the tougher demons later on. Ammo feels more scarce than in the first game, I can only think it is because there are so many more enemies to deal with in Doom II, and it doesn’t take long before you’re fending off wave after wave. Another thing I did notice is demons are quite fond of shooting at you through gaps or windows, which will regularly catch you off guard and is just plain rude.
The game plays and looks very similar to the first, but has more varied level designs which add to the sense of adventure. The music, oddly, kicks off with an upbeat tune which wouldn’t sound out of place in a Bond film. Overall the soundtrack is an enjoyable mishmash landing somewhere between horror and action.
As with the first Doom re-release in 2019, this time round, Doom II also includes 4-way local co-op and multiplayer. You’ll certainly wish you had some friends helping you at points, so you best get recruiting them as soon as you can. As fans will be aware, everyone’s favourite demon spewing boss “Icon of Sin” will be waiting for you at the end of Doom II.
Doom II (Classic) on Xbox One is a solid FPS being very much more of the same, which many will argue is a good thing. However, the campaign isn’t quite as well paced as the original and therefore the magic may wear off for some.