Doom II

The Xbox Live Arcade port of Doom II has been a long time coming. It’s been expected since the original Doom was ported to XBLA almost four years ago… but was it worth the wait?

A space marine’s job is tough to begin with – you have to undergo serious training to learn that certain swagger, butter your boots daily and learn all the ins and outs of accessing grunt-enabled secret passages. It’s an even tougher job being the last guy on Earth, when all you have to defend the planet from the pits of Hell is the pistol in your pocket.

Luckily, your unfortunate situation is soon remedied by increasing your arsenal. Aside from the old favourites (the Big “Friendly” Gun comes to mind), by rummaging around you will soon find yourself the two new, potent weapons of the series – the chainsaw and super shotgun. Before long, you’ll find yourself mowing down mancubi, annihilating arachnotrons and zapping zombiemen in an attempt to make it to the level exit and, eventually, save Earth.

Yes, the gameplay in Doom II is as formulaic as its story. Navigate corridors, shoot hellspawn, pick up skull keys, unlock doors and make your way to the exit. Rinse and repeat. It’s very much dated by today’s standards, but despite this it is still one of the most visceral gaming experiences available. Movement isn’t hampered by the joypad controls, and while the visuals and sound aren’t revamped in full, glorious HD, they are clear enough that they won’t leave you recoiling in horror.

If you’ve played Doom II before, the “Hell on Earth” episode is everything you know and love about Doom II. The new nine-level episode, “No Rest for the Living” is a fresh, fiendish and natural expansion to the series. Even on the lowest “I’m too young to die” difficulty, you’ll be hard-pressed to storm through these levels by yourself if you’re skills are a bit rusty. Co-operative play makes staying alive in-game that bit easier, and somehow deathmatches are just as frenetic as they were 15 years ago.

The inclusion of leaderboard videos is a stroke of genius. In the past, all Doom players have wandered around a level for a good twenty minutes at some point trying to find the final skull key. Now, instead of resorting to an FAQ or guidebook you can learn from the masters at then top of the leaderboards or, conversely, mock your friends for their terrible aim and running around like headless chickens.

Avatar bonuses are also up to spec in the shape of a Doom II T-shirt and Doomguy’s Marine Suit.







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