Numerous classics of earlier console generations are available with a simple search on Xbox Live Marketplace or its equivalent on other consoles. Many have found that this is usually a wake-up call for their own nostalgia. And like everything else, video games age.
Obviously, some games have aged well; others, not so much. Doom II, classic though it may have been for its era, belongs in the latter category.
Booting up Doom II is an amplified experience of what I often call the Goldeneye effect. Doom II, aside from being primitive, has not aged well at all. The level design is straightforward and predictable, although I frequently got lost because it was difficult to see a doorway due to the pixelated graphics – never mind the map barely being any help. The monsters, while creatively designed for their time, are fuzzy looking and sound effects are grainy.
The dated mechanics of Doom II become apparent within the first minute of play. You can’t aim your gun vertically, which will undoubtedly take a lot of getting used to even if you’ve played Doom II before. Instead of aiming up or down to shoot at monsters at different levels than you, Doom II utilizes an auto-aim system that’s functional but somewhat sticky and unintuitive.
What will probably take the most time to get used to is that you can’t jump. This becomes a problem when you need to get from one platform to another and there’s a gap in between. What you’ll usually wind up doing is using the sprint button to give your fall a bit of extra distance and hope you make the landing. This ironically makes navigating the simplistic levels even more complicated at times.
I’d still be lying if there wasn’t a certain charm behind the sheer antiquity of it. One of the more endearing elements of the game is that you don’t reload; you have as many bullets, rockets, etc. in your weapon as you can carry, and you’ll shoot that many. It’s also a refreshing feeling to play a game where you actually collect first aid kits to restore health rather than sitting behind walls waiting for your wounds to miraculously heal.
If you think your battle-hardened skills in Modern Warfare 2 or Bad Company 2 have more than trained you for Doom II, think again. The game actually provides a respectable challenge. There are several difficulty settings ranging from very easy to the hardest setting where torrential hordes of monsters will threaten you every inch of the way.
The charm that provides the entertainment in Doom II points to what it is - a novelty. It’s a trip back in time and pure nostalgia. It would have been nice to see some upgrades to the formula beyond the obligatory leader boards. This is as retro as retro games can possibly get, and if that appeals to you, then you may find what you’re looking for. The antiquated formula will do little to appeal beyond nostalgia when there are plenty of indie titles on the market with more refined gameplay.
Enemies look creative, but the dated visuals are little more than a nostalgic ride.
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The basic formula is mostly functional and even fun, but auto-aiming and not being able to jump is awkward.
Grainy, fuzzy, and generally not impressive.
For a game of this nature, the multiple difficulty levels add some replay value.
Doom II is just a nostalgia fix. As charming as the experience can be, it’s just very dated.