DOOM II Review (Xbox360)

It’s hard to believe that Doom II is 16 years old as it gets an Xbox Live Arcade re-release with snazzy new features, but part of that it's down to how impressive a game it is for the era it’s from rather than how quickly time has flown.

No frills - just shoot!

Doom II is a pretty simple game, like the first in the series. You play that tough-guy space marine as he battles demons from hell out in space, and you’ll have to navigate your way through expansive levels that often have multiple routes through them, puzzles to slow your progress and optional areas and pick-ups to be found.

The gunplay in Doom II is simple, with no vertical movement at all – there’s no looking up or down here. Enemies are almost always on the same level as you, so the Space Marine is perfectly comfortable leaving his gun at chest height as he dashes around firing.

Doom II was played with a keyboard back in 1994, but here the controls have been transferred to the Xbox 360 controller with a great degree of success. The controls will be familiar to anyone who’s played a modern day first person shooter, though every button seems to do a little less as there’s a lot less extra features to worry about in Doom. Aiming is reduced by the lack of a vertical axis and the game is really about shooting above all else; even secondary objectives are simple, like collecting an item by walking into it and such.

Other important aspects of this port have been met with the same success the controls have – the single player levels are playable cooperatively and there’s also some straight up competitive deathmatch modes in for the bargain, and both are playable online or in split screen. It’s a mixed bag here, as I experienced crippling lag in some games and absolutely none in others. When it worked, however, it conjured up memories of playing the game over a LAN like the 90s wonderfully.

Play in Split Screen Co-Op

Graphically the game is the same as it always was. You’ve got new menus for Xbox Live, but as soon as you jump into a game you’re greeted by the same sprite-based goodness blown up to HD resolution with splatters of blood that look like red Lego bricks spewing from the wounds of enemies.

It looks old, but it still looks pretty good, and changing it – making it high res or high def – would, frankly, be wrong. The same can be said for the music, which is still cheesy, screeching midi knock-offs of heavy metal. It’s simultaneously awesome and terrible.

The biggest new addition in Doom II for XBLA is a whole new Chapter of levels. They’re not as long as the single player, but they’re fiendishly difficult, the culmination of 16 years of Doom level editing – these are some hardcore, solid Doom levels. They’ll take even the most seasoned Doom player ages to complete on higher difficulties, and there’s an awesome Avatar Award for those who can do it on the higher difficulties.

The awesome Super Shotgun

While the core game isn’t quite as difficult as the new chapter, it’s still a challenging game, and dare I say it’ll be all the more challenging for anyone more used to the modern age’s hand-holding shooters. Doom II isn’t afraid to drop you in a large level and let you figure out the path through it yourself, and that’s fine by me – it’s a refreshing change from today’s shooters.

When all is said and done Doom II XBLA is a classic of the genre wrapped up in a fairly attractive package for the price. It’s a shame that the online aspects are so hit and miss, but the new chapter helps to smooth over that complaint. It’s old school and simple, but if you can look past that you’ll definitely have a blast with Doom II on Xbox Live Arcade.

Best Moment: Super shotgun! My god, what an awesome weapon that is...


By lichlord (SI Core) on Jun 03, 2010
good old times
By noobst3R (SI Core) on Jun 15, 2010
I agree, it's damn hard! Just like Wolf3D, i always got lost.