Upon release, DOOM was immediately recognized as the game that would shape the First Person Shooter. After creating one of the most shared and sought after experiences of the era, iD knew they had to expand. After all, DOOM left the player on a cliff begging for more. All good sequels build off the base of the original, but DOOM II couldn’t just be an expansion. It needed to be bigger, better, and even more metal. Just as DOOM II built off of the original, this review builds off of my opinions on the original.
DOOM II uses the same framework as Wolfenstein 3D and DOOM. The game controls the same as it’s predecessor. The additions highlight elements of the original that I had never appreciated. The original experience was defined by its limitations. It only required 8 megabytes of RAM, but the sequel demanded 32. Levels of DOOM II are large and expansive, but feel empty and lifeless. They’re filled with demons, but they’re a slough to explore. The super shotgun makes quick work of enemies in a wide range but uses two shells. With existing enemies reduced to mincemeat, greater threats were necessary. The Cyber Demon and Spider Mastermind are used as regular enemies, and eight new enemy types are introduced. These new enemies made it harder to immediately judge a room, and I never enjoyed fighting them.
While the original was composed of twenty-eight levels split into three episodes, DOOM II features thirty continuous levels. While later ports split them up again, story scenes would come out of nowhere. I miss the map between missions that showed progress through an episode. DOOM II has no shortage of content to play through, but I felt like it overextended quite a bit.
DOOM II is much more bang for your buck, but those shots ring out in spacious empty cities dissatisfying to look at or explore. It’s hard to make DOOM bad, but DOOM II is far from an improvement on the first. It introduces a ton of concepts that would work well in a different experience, but it sinks well below the original. I had my fun with DOOM II, but I spent most of my experience wishing each level would just end. Sometimes, a smaller scope is better.