Wednesday, April 2, 2014


The wait is over....

The biggest, baddest DOOM ever- this time it's Hell on Earth!

Hell awaits your soul, will you dare face more id Software reviews through the following links?

VGR: DOOM II: Hell on Earth also known as DOOM II or simply DOOM 2
From id Software
Played on PC
Also available on Mac, Game Boy Advance, Tapwave Zodiac, PSX, Xbox, Xbox 360 & PS3

Type FPS
Year 1994

Developed once again by id Software as the direct and obligatory sequel to the original DOOM.

DOOM II: Hell on Earth takes back the original revolutionary formula and takes our Space Marine to Earth this time and back to Hell for one last ride!

Developed for DOS and released in 1994 alongside the parallel development of what would become the Quake engine. The game runs on mostly a similar engine as the first game, only a bit more refined such as new more detailed graphics, improved controls. They only really added minor cosmetic change, overall it's the same basic 3-D environments which would be quickly rendered obsolete by the time Duke Nukem 3D was released...

The sequel had John Carmack, John Romero and Dave Taylor back on programing, with Adrian Carmack and Kevin Cloud on the graphics/art duties.

Our "story" follows once again the same Doom guy.

After a trip through the moons of Mars, Phobos and Deimos, taking on the forces of Hell itself and defeating the Cyberdemon guarding the Gates of Hell, our hero is now back home.

Back on Earth... only to find out he arrived to late!

The Demons have invaded most cities already and almost taken over the entire planet!

Now it's up to YOU!

You are the last remaining space marine from the UAC! You faced those monsters once, you can kick their ass a second time!

The demons have possessed the entire planet and shut down space travel with a gigantic force field around the planet. Your objective? Taking it down to allow the last few hidden humans to escape the Hellish Earth. You are mankind's last chance! A chance to escape this doomed planet for space!

But forget the story! It's not that important, this is just an early 1990s First Person Shooter! You want a story? Read a book!

Time to kick ass and chew bubblegum!

Basically said, it's the exact same game as the original Doom, graphic-wise. It looks the same and plays the same. There are a lot of new graphic elements and effects and monsters, but it might just have been the same!

The game starts around these industrial complexes. The first 6 stages take place in this starport, it's supposed to take place in military techbases, then the 7th to the 11th stages are hellish outposts on Earth. Stages 12 to 20 will take you through the industrial downtown in the city, residential areas. Hell is starting to merge with our world finally bringing the next 21 to 31 stages to Hell and back. Finally, Dante-like nightmarish caves filled with lave!

But honestly, don't expect much from Doom 2! The landmarks are basically rendered and hardly recognizable. And it wouldn't be until Duke Nukem 3D that 3D levels would finally start to appear to look like something, clearly. They perhaps shouldn't have taken Doom to Earth in retrospective...

The game also ditches the whole 3-episode structure for these 30+ stages, played one after the other continuously. Which is probably the reason why they ditched the story telling in-between levels and there's no map anymore showing your progression after the score screen/on stage titles.

The game is much more action focused this time around, rather than featuring some slight puzzles elements like in Doom 1.

This gives Doom 2 a much more natural and organic flow. The levels are still huge and very much open/non-linear. But since you can always find a map early on in most levels, it helps a lot. You won't be getting lost as much, despite the bigger settings. Finding keys is not that complicated anymore and most times you will naturally get them along the natural path/progression of the levels, only forcing to backtrack when it's time to close shop for the end of the level.

Speaking of new things, there might not be a lot of new items but there certainly are a lot of new faces around.

There's only one true new weapon, the infamous super shotgun, a double-barreled shotgun! One new ability power-up. But at leas the game doubles its cast of demons (with a lot of "clones" though..). Some cult classic faces of the franchises appeared in this episode such as the Heavy weapon dude, the rocked-firing skeletal Revenants or the pretty annoying Arch-viles that can respawn and resurrect defeated demons. You will fight hordes of new enemies and new cast of previous monsters such as Spectres or Hell Knight until facing Pure Evil itself.. in the form of the "Icon of Sin"!

All in all, the game revolves around the same facing hordes of enemies/activating switches/and looking for keys gameplay mechanic.

Our unnamed Marine protagonist has to go through tons of monsters. Usually spawned or awakens as you pick up items, much more usually behind secret walls.

The level design is much bigger and ambitious.

The much more impressive dense ratio of monsters on screen required the best computers at the time compared to the simpler Doom 1.

There are two secret stages, in the form of two throwbacks at Wolfenstein 3D, two maps brought back from id's classic title with SS Troopers enemies as well! The old school simpler textures is both out of place and fantastic to have back (although the original Wolfenstein boss had to be replaced by a Cyberdemon, but the connection works thematically).

Including a sad but hilarious reference to Commander Keen! Kind of a way of saying "this", this kind of mature violent games are the way id is now, time to let this childish old 2D hero behind...

Mutliplayer was back and improved. Doom 2 added Lan support at the time, which was quite innovative and a huge improvement. It was lated retroactively added to the first Doom along its Ultimate Doom port/update (based on Doom 2 actually) on CD-Rom. One map particularly - MAP07 - is highly regarded as one of the simplest but also the best deathmatch maps ever designed.

The original gorgeous cover at time defined the entire tone of this episode. Aggressive. Spectacular. Nightmarish. It was designed by famous fantasy artist Gerald Brom.

Finally, Doom 2 contains some great catchy and memorable music, composed by Bobby Prince. While it might be only a bit below Doom 1's score in terms of originality and mood, my main beef with it is that there's hardly enough tracks for the entire Doom 2 experience! There aren't a lot of music and the score quickly starts to repeat itself midway through the game. A shame!

And that is my main beef with Doom 2!

I really love the game... but I feel like it was meant to be a much bigger follow-up to a huge classic... and only ended up behind quite rushed in the production (to make way for Quake??).

On that front it's sort of a big disappointment. It feels like a simple expansion. Not a proper full-fledged sequel.

The problem is that the game shares simply way too much assets with its ancestor.

And probably due to the rushed production the game lacked any real new feature. I know Doom 2 didn't offer a radical engine update, but at the time we started getting the likes of Duke Nukem 3D, Terminator: Future Shock and Star Wars Dark Forces which all started to actually explore real 3-D environments and try to feature as many polygonal objects over just 2-D sprites as Doom used. And allowing the player to actually feel part of a 3-D space by aiming freely on the screen and having stages built over several flours over Doom's simple vertical plane (there's nowhere on the maps a place that overlaps with another).

And Doom 2 had its huge fair share of bugs. Contributing to this whole "rushed" aspect, several maps can't actually be finished 100% without the use of cheats. Several secrets are either missing or unattainable due to bugs/placements! (it's always annoying when you find the last % you were trying to obtain for hours... is actually impossible!) Doom 1 was spotless on that part!

The experience just feels more disjointed and rushed.

Anyhow, the game received a very positive reception at the time. It went on to be a huge hit, and can still be considered an impressive big seller for id Software to date. It reached and continued to break the million units sold-mark easily.

Overall, an all-time classic. A fantastic memorable follow-up to an already impressive cult title.

You gotta enjoy a game where you can start a fight between enemies. The AI was very good and funny to use, for its time. Some factions might react differently in contact with another. You can turn a pinky against a horde of imps

Secrets are much easier to find, thanks to the maps you can find easier and more often this time.

Although the various bugs, rushed aspects, lack of new elements prevent me from considering it superior to the original.

Additional levels for Doom 2 were developed, although not by id Software. Titled the TNT: Evilution and The Plutonia Experiment, these expansion packs were later released as the "Final Doom".

There's been several ports of Doom 2 over the years, although to a much lesser extent than Doom 1. The game was only ported on PSX through an updated port (more on that below). A Macintosh port programmed by Brett Butlerhuge. There also was famously impressive and popular Game Boy Advance port back in 2002. Finally it has been contained along Doom 1 in several ports of Doom 3, on the original Xbox, Xbox 360, PS3 and Steam now.

The DOOM BFG re-release of Doom 3 added an additional new "Xbox live" episode (also below).

Considered a classic, always fun, never boring, highly reocmmended!

I give it:
2.5 / 3 Invaders!

VGR: Final Doom 
By TeamTNT/Casali brothers/id Software/GT Interactive
Type Standalone expansion pack
Year 1996

Released in 1996 as a standalone expansion pack, Final Doom offered 32 new levels in the form of two combined additional episodes for Doom II: TNT: Evilution developed by TeamTNT, mapper fans, and The Plutonia Experiment designed by the Casali brothers, mod enthusiasts and level designers (now working at Valve). It was released simultaneously with îd's very own Quake.

Final Doom is considered the only official expansion of both original Doom games (produced, although not developed by id).

TNT: Evilution is a follow up to the overall story of Doom. The UAC has been reformed. They are now experimenting on portals again, this time on the moon of Jupiter, Io. To help along, several space marines arrive on the scene. Whaddyaknow, all Hell breaks lose. Again! And soon the place is overrun by the forces of Hell. In the end you will have to defeat the Baphomet "Icon of Sin" again (since they didn't create any new enemy for any of these add-ons).

The Plutonia Experiment appears to take place place directly following the invasion on Earth. The scientists are working on a way to definitely close the Gates of Hell. You are a marine detached to the scientific complex and assigned with security. Suddenly an all new greater invasion begins...!

Overall: They're both fun, but mostly designed for people that have already finished both Doom games on hard and looking for a new challenge!

The gameplay is identical to Doom 2. Final Doom is based on the same level progression (30 levels + 2 secret stages for both episodes). 

It was released as a standalone game.. but I can't imagine jumping right at it. It's a much more difficult game overall.

The Playstation conversion was based on its port of Doom 1. The difficulty was much more toned down making it actually easier in turn. Some of the harder levels were taken out, and there was simply less enemies on most maps. This PSX version contained several stages from both Doom 1 and Doom 2 to make up for it, combined in one game.

I give this one a: 2 / 3 Score! 

VGR: No Rest for the Living 
By Nerve Software/id Software/Bethesda Softworks
Type Bonus expansion pack
Year 2010

A new additional "canon" episode added to DOOM II, "No Rest for the Living" is a new expansion pack this time developed by old school studio Nerve Software, which already worked with id Software on several occasions in the past. Including on the Doom series back in 2005.

This time this episode was actually sanctioned by id Software. Making it the first new official addition to the original Doom games in 15 years! That's no less impressive than the end result.

The game was originally meant for the release of Doom II on the Xbox Live (Xbox 360) and has since then been ported along Doom II on other releases, more prominently the Doom 3: BFG Edition. No Rest for the Living is now part of the "Doom Classic Complete" on several other systems. (the original Doom 2 was re-titled as the "Hell on Earth" episode, fitting)

The maps were designed by Nerve Software's Richard Heath and Russell Meakim as a tribute to the original Doom. No Rest for the Living goes back to the formula seen in the original Doom. Meaning 9 levels only (including one secret mid-way through).

I truly believe "less is more" and it really shows here. All these levels were all carefully designed and pretty well thought.

Being limited to a mid-1990s game engine, they made the most of the available assets (making a couple of new textures here and there), a smart use of Doom's engine making every single stage both unique and memorable. How difficult was the task!?

It continues on Earth, following the invasion from Hell. The demons had been apparently vanquished (or so, you thought...). From human bases to the creature's world. The last couple of levels taking place in the deep bowels of the Circles of Hell, those last few are pretty unique looking...

The levels are clearly intelligent design ideas from today's perspective. This episode features some very complex level designs, in the sense that games nowadays actually are more complex design-wise (because they aren't). But in respect that it was clearly developed by people that tried to look back at level designs from games back then, and tried making their very own inspired levels nowadays.

These new stages require some skills and not just plain brute force. They're also pretty impressive visually at time too, despite running on 10+ years old engine.

Overall: This was offered as merely a bonus feature in the overall "BFG" edition, but it was probably my favorite new addition to the whole experience!

I give this one a: 2 / 3 Score! 

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