David Klein On June 9, 2010 at 5:46 am

Doom is one of the most iconic names in gaming history which rests in a short list alongside the likes of Super Mario and Pac Man. This series alone popularized the first person shooter genre and helped turn it into the juggernaut that it is today. Less than year after its ground breaking 1993 release id Software pumped out the sequel to it, Doom II: Hell on Earth. Roughly the same as the original but with new enemies, a new gun and bigger maps it was an enticing package if you were looking for your next Doom fix back in the day. Doom II has now come out on Xbox Live Arcade nearly four years after the release of the original Doom. Does this sequel hold up after 16 years or was this game simply a cash grab that wasn’t seen for what it was at the time.

Let’s start with one of the most easily dated parts of the game, the graphics. The game is now running at a solid 720p which makes things look a lot clearer than the original DOS version however that aside the game looks exactly the same. This lack of change is somewhat disappointing since the visuals are really dated and you can look to the many PC versions of the game that improve the looks of the game and make it feel more modern with the option to maintain the original looks if you so desire. The game maintains its original 4:3 aspect so owners of widescreen TVs will notice the black border surrounding their screen, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing since stretching the game to fit the screen is probably a worse alternative but it’s something to note.
The sound effects stay the same as the original and the music is as I remember it. The game makes use of virtual surround sound to try to make it feel more modern but most of the time I found its accuracy was lacking.

Playing Doom II with the Xbox 360 gamepad makes the transition fairly smoothly with the only problem I had was being unable to quickly change weapons by just pressing a number on my keyboard instead having to scroll through your weapons via Y and B on the pad. The single player for the Hell on Earth portion of the game plays exactly the same and I couldn’t note any differences from the original game. With that said the game is good though the levels don’t live up to the iconic feel the original Doom had. One of the things that singled out Doom and by extension Doom II from other games of its time and this holds somewhat true even now is its ability to create a distinct atmosphere and build tension before setting off a trap which gives you the sense that the gates of Hell are opening up in front of you. This is definitely appreciated and is a tribute to the developer’s prowess and vision.
Also included in the Xbox 360 edition of the game are nine all new levels that have never been seen before. After playing them I can describe them with two words, freaking hard. These levels definitely shouldn’t be attempted until you play through the original game’s thirty two levels and after that prepare for war with hell because you should be at it for a while with these levels. While the nine levels are nice and add some length to the game I’m disappointed by this lackluster addition when if you say buy Doom II on Steam you get the Master Levels which was an expansion for the original game that includes twenty new levels that are all just as good as the ones you’d get in this new episode of nine.

The multiplayer portions of the game are both offline and online supporting up to four players per game. The deathmatch mode for both splitscreen and online are a bit lackluster given every first person shooter out today supports more than four people and the fact that 90% of the maps in Doom II are way too big for any four people to find each other in any sane amount of time.
The co-op is a mixed bag; locally it works as expected and is a ton of fun however when you’re playing it online it’s a different story. After repeatedly trying to get a stable game which happened only once, every other time was met with different degrees of lag ranging bad to abysmal. Most of the co-op games I got into was totally unplayable with the amount of lag you’d expect playing the original Doom II over dialup. This is a real disappointment for me since playing co-op over Live was one of the biggest selling points for me.

Doom II on XBLA is a mixed bag and an expensive one at that. The actual single player game is exactly as I remember it which is for the best. I was left wishing that id had included the new episode of nine levels as well as the Master Levels’ 20 levels to make this feel like a more like a rounded package, especially since this game is retailing for $10 while the original Doom which I feel is the better game is only $5. With only five more levels than the original I’m left wondering why I’m paying double the price for a lesser game. Add to the fact that the multiplayer has some major problems which should have been flawless in its implementation makes me think that unless you need Doom II on your 360 you’d be better off getting some other version.


Doom II’s single player is still a blast to play while the multiplayer not so much.


They look dated though definitely still playable it doesn’t hurt the atmosphere of the game at all.


The sound effects and music stay the same as the original game.


This package definitely has a lot of flaws and unless you really need these nine new levels you should skip it

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