Past Expiration: Doom II - Hell on Earth

Posted by Sarumarine (2059 posts) -

So until a few days ago, I had not played Doom in any shape or form. Pick a Doom game, I hadn't touched it. But after re-watching some of the Breaking Brad: Doom II Ultra-violence videos over Labor Day, I got the urge to try it out and played through all of Doom II: Hell on Earth. Considering this is an old ass PC game that cellphones can probably run, this is definitely Past Expiration. I haven't done one of these in a long while.

Also, this is my thinly veiled suggestion for Brad to get back to his Doom II Ultra-violence run. I need more Brad Ultra-violence. Preferably with double Brads, but I understand if that's a tall order.

Doom II: Hell is Level Design

Yeah, you know what time it is

What can I possibly say about Doom II that hasn't already been said somewhere else? Does anyone actually need an introduction? Can I just say Cyberdemon and move on? What about double barrel shotgun? How about that asshole Arch-vile?

How about the devil? You know... the one in hell.

But just so I don't get lazy, Doom II is a simplistic FPS (compared to today's standards, mind you) where you don't have to worry about looking up and down, cover systems, or completing objectives. There are no cut scenes and no partner AI. No secondary functions or quick kill melee attacks. This is Doom, son. All you have to do is point your weapon in the general direction of your target and pull the trigger. Even at distance with a shotgun or rocket launcher, shots will automatically curve up or down depending on where your nearest enemy is standing. The only goal is to find three colored keys or less and get to the exit. Watch out for the buckets and buckets of demonic creatures out for your blood.

Of course the biggest enemy in this game isn't any one of the demons standing in your way, but the winding, sometimes obscure level design where you have to check every fucking wall just to figure out where to go next. Sometimes you have to jump off ledges without the luxury of looking where you're leaping. Of course, insane level design is partially justified by the protagonist making a journey to hell. Why would hell ever make sense to a human mind? The levels in this game reminded me a lot of Dark Souls (or should Dark Souls remind me of Doom?) where the game can't help itself. You start to know when it's going to trigger a ton of enemies after you grab sweet, sweet health or a cool new item. It can't help but blatantly advertise traps and collapsing walls once you've learned its routine.

I'm saying that Doom II and Dark Souls would totally hang out together and share drinks at a bar. Two assholes, having fun together.

Despite that, I still found Doom II a lot of fun. Mostly because of the shooting mechanics and the selection of weapons, crazy level design be damned.

Fun with Shotguns (and those other weapons)

The Greatest Shotgun Ever Programmed

There's a charming simplicity about the way shooting things in Doom II works. It keeps the action moving as the only way to really aim in this game is by moving your point of view around. You never have those moments where you pull up iron sights and take aim. No, you're always blazing around dodging shots and returning fire. Things are always moving in a fight. Not to mention Doom II has the greatest shotgun in any video game I've ever played, easily beating out the one in Resident Evil 4. Even the regular shotgun has the range of rifles, the pump action the only thing slowing you down.

But I'm all about the double barrel shotgun. It feels so damn good to blast enemies with that thing. It kills most of the fodder demons in one volley, and isn't a bad choice to use on the bigger guys. Watching the pixelated corpse of a Cacodemon or Mancubus erode after killing them with the double barrel is really satisfying. Clearing a whole room of troops or imps is also a great moment. It's so damn good. The sound effects and animations (even after the passage of time) hold up pretty well. But I'm never one to sweat graphics. My opinion is that graphics are not the most important part of a video game. They're nice, but not key.

The other weapons are pretty good too. I have to say the Plasma Rifle is probably my second favorite to the double barrel considering how it chews through everything. Great sound effect and blue color for the stream of plasma death. I guess it would be criminal if I didn't mention the BFG9000, but I found it went through ammo too fast. It's certainly handy in the right situations. My least favorite weapon out of the bunch is the Chain Gun, which takes too long to kill anything and feels like a waste of ammo. Sure, it's fine with the lesser dudes. But the number of bullets it takes to kill a Cacodemon is embarrassing. Especially when the double barrel can get that done in two or three shots.

The Story, Enemy Designs, and Other Junk

The Spiders had a cool sound effect though....

This game was made in the 90s, and if you didn't know that, the story and numerous icons of the devil and all things demonic are a dead give away. Doom II has a Mega Man effort of story justification where... does it matter why you're traveling to hell and fighting skeletons armed with rocket launchers? Much like, does it matter why you're fighting Dr. Wily and eight new Robot Masters again? The fact that Doom II is really fun helps it overcome a lot of the aesthetics I don't really like about the game. One thing I've always really disliked about Doom in general was the enemy designs, which all come off pretty juvenile in the way that blood equals mature, and skeletons and goat heads are the coolest things in the entire world. It lacks... subtlety. But it's Doom, so I'll deal with it.

I hope that doesn't come off harsh. I'm just saying that nothing about the enemy designs really impress me, only their AI patterns and abilities make them stand out. The Arch-Vile could be a stuffed turkey and I would still be scared of it because it can set me on fire by looking at me and revive the other guys I killed a few seconds ago. If the Pain Elemental was a basketball that spat flaming badminton, I would still think it's a total pain in the ass that takes priority over most other enemies because fuck those flying skulls, man. It's probably because Doom is such a staple of video game and FPS history that it's become a Citizen Kane moment. Nothing was a real surprise. I would really like to know if people who played Doom II for the first time found any of it scary or edgy. If you're one of those players, feel free to let me know. It's probably hard to communicate that if you weren't there in the moment when it first came out.

...Still a lot of Fun Though

Playing Doom II has filled in a lot of blanks for me. I can see how it was and still is a big deal. I thought it was funny how the levels change how threatening the enemies are. It makes using the right weapons in the right places really, really important. I still don't like any platforming or jumping puzzles in first person games. Even in Doom II, trying to sprint or launch myself at the right angles to cover chasms or gaps was a real pain in the ass. And the level design feels pretty uneven overall. Some stages take forever because they're so obscure (like the Citadel and the Industrial Zone), and some are just kind of funny like the one with all the rooms of exploding barrels in patterns set for chain reactions (appropriately titled Barrels O' Fun).

So yeah, I feel caught up. And I had a good time. I probably haven't said anything new when it comes to Doom II but I feel better for getting it out there. Maybe people who grew up with Doom will find it entertaining on some level.

#1 Posted by Sarumarine (2059 posts) -

So until a few days ago, I had not played Doom in any shape or form. Pick a Doom game, I hadn't touched it. But after re-watching some of the Breaking Brad: Doom II Ultra-violence videos over Labor Day, I got the urge to try it out and played through all of Doom II: Hell on Earth. Considering this is an old ass PC game that cellphones can probably run, this is definitely Past Expiration. I haven't done one of these in a long while.

Also, this is my thinly veiled suggestion for Brad to get back to his Doom II Ultra-violence run. I need more Brad Ultra-violence. Preferably with double Brads, but I understand if that's a tall order.

Doom II: Hell is Level Design

Yeah, you know what time it is

What can I possibly say about Doom II that hasn't already been said somewhere else? Does anyone actually need an introduction? Can I just say Cyberdemon and move on? What about double barrel shotgun? How about that asshole Arch-vile?

How about the devil? You know... the one in hell.

But just so I don't get lazy, Doom II is a simplistic FPS (compared to today's standards, mind you) where you don't have to worry about looking up and down, cover systems, or completing objectives. There are no cut scenes and no partner AI. No secondary functions or quick kill melee attacks. This is Doom, son. All you have to do is point your weapon in the general direction of your target and pull the trigger. Even at distance with a shotgun or rocket launcher, shots will automatically curve up or down depending on where your nearest enemy is standing. The only goal is to find three colored keys or less and get to the exit. Watch out for the buckets and buckets of demonic creatures out for your blood.

Of course the biggest enemy in this game isn't any one of the demons standing in your way, but the winding, sometimes obscure level design where you have to check every fucking wall just to figure out where to go next. Sometimes you have to jump off ledges without the luxury of looking where you're leaping. Of course, insane level design is partially justified by the protagonist making a journey to hell. Why would hell ever make sense to a human mind? The levels in this game reminded me a lot of Dark Souls (or should Dark Souls remind me of Doom?) where the game can't help itself. You start to know when it's going to trigger a ton of enemies after you grab sweet, sweet health or a cool new item. It can't help but blatantly advertise traps and collapsing walls once you've learned its routine.

I'm saying that Doom II and Dark Souls would totally hang out together and share drinks at a bar. Two assholes, having fun together.

Despite that, I still found Doom II a lot of fun. Mostly because of the shooting mechanics and the selection of weapons, crazy level design be damned.

Fun with Shotguns (and those other weapons)

The Greatest Shotgun Ever Programmed

There's a charming simplicity about the way shooting things in Doom II works. It keeps the action moving as the only way to really aim in this game is by moving your point of view around. You never have those moments where you pull up iron sights and take aim. No, you're always blazing around dodging shots and returning fire. Things are always moving in a fight. Not to mention Doom II has the greatest shotgun in any video game I've ever played, easily beating out the one in Resident Evil 4. Even the regular shotgun has the range of rifles, the pump action the only thing slowing you down.

But I'm all about the double barrel shotgun. It feels so damn good to blast enemies with that thing. It kills most of the fodder demons in one volley, and isn't a bad choice to use on the bigger guys. Watching the pixelated corpse of a Cacodemon or Mancubus erode after killing them with the double barrel is really satisfying. Clearing a whole room of troops or imps is also a great moment. It's so damn good. The sound effects and animations (even after the passage of time) hold up pretty well. But I'm never one to sweat graphics. My opinion is that graphics are not the most important part of a video game. They're nice, but not key.

The other weapons are pretty good too. I have to say the Plasma Rifle is probably my second favorite to the double barrel considering how it chews through everything. Great sound effect and blue color for the stream of plasma death. I guess it would be criminal if I didn't mention the BFG9000, but I found it went through ammo too fast. It's certainly handy in the right situations. My least favorite weapon out of the bunch is the Chain Gun, which takes too long to kill anything and feels like a waste of ammo. Sure, it's fine with the lesser dudes. But the number of bullets it takes to kill a Cacodemon is embarrassing. Especially when the double barrel can get that done in two or three shots.

The Story, Enemy Designs, and Other Junk

The Spiders had a cool sound effect though....

This game was made in the 90s, and if you didn't know that, the story and numerous icons of the devil and all things demonic are a dead give away. Doom II has a Mega Man effort of story justification where... does it matter why you're traveling to hell and fighting skeletons armed with rocket launchers? Much like, does it matter why you're fighting Dr. Wily and eight new Robot Masters again? The fact that Doom II is really fun helps it overcome a lot of the aesthetics I don't really like about the game. One thing I've always really disliked about Doom in general was the enemy designs, which all come off pretty juvenile in the way that blood equals mature, and skeletons and goat heads are the coolest things in the entire world. It lacks... subtlety. But it's Doom, so I'll deal with it.

I hope that doesn't come off harsh. I'm just saying that nothing about the enemy designs really impress me, only their AI patterns and abilities make them stand out. The Arch-Vile could be a stuffed turkey and I would still be scared of it because it can set me on fire by looking at me and revive the other guys I killed a few seconds ago. If the Pain Elemental was a basketball that spat flaming badminton, I would still think it's a total pain in the ass that takes priority over most other enemies because fuck those flying skulls, man. It's probably because Doom is such a staple of video game and FPS history that it's become a Citizen Kane moment. Nothing was a real surprise. I would really like to know if people who played Doom II for the first time found any of it scary or edgy. If you're one of those players, feel free to let me know. It's probably hard to communicate that if you weren't there in the moment when it first came out.

...Still a lot of Fun Though

Playing Doom II has filled in a lot of blanks for me. I can see how it was and still is a big deal. I thought it was funny how the levels change how threatening the enemies are. It makes using the right weapons in the right places really, really important. I still don't like any platforming or jumping puzzles in first person games. Even in Doom II, trying to sprint or launch myself at the right angles to cover chasms or gaps was a real pain in the ass. And the level design feels pretty uneven overall. Some stages take forever because they're so obscure (like the Citadel and the Industrial Zone), and some are just kind of funny like the one with all the rooms of exploding barrels in patterns set for chain reactions (appropriately titled Barrels O' Fun).

So yeah, I feel caught up. And I had a good time. I probably haven't said anything new when it comes to Doom II but I feel better for getting it out there. Maybe people who grew up with Doom will find it entertaining on some level.

#2 Posted by Tordah (2461 posts) -

Was this your first time ever playing Doom? If so, I'm surprised you seemed to enjoy it so much. I don't say that because I don't think it holds up, I say that because it has such a massive legacy and will probably seem completely underwhelming now if you compare it to something more modern.

I was pretty young when I first played Doom and Doom II, and I remember being kinda scared of them. I think the gnarly and crass sound design of the enemies is what really got to me. Nothing was worse than hearing dozens of Arachnotrons or Barons of Hell announce their presence with their twisted screams before you even had a chance to set your eyes on them. In fact, any of the "greeting sounds" of the enemies could elicit cheap jump-scares when caught off guard. Also, I hadn't been exposed to many horror movies yet so I found the enemy designs quite nasty. Not even my worst nightmares could spawn a monster as twisted and evil as the Spider Mastermind, and I'm thankful for that.

#3 Posted by TonicBH (263 posts) -

The level design is mostly crap in Doom II because 90% of it was done by Sandy Petersen, with a smattering of levels done by other designers (John Romero, American McGee, etc). According to an interview with somebody at id, they said that Sandy made ugly but functional levels, and that's mostly true. The levels were better in Ultimate Doom by far.

I'm glad you had fun with it, it's the sort of game that's still fun today despite being bested by many other games.

#4 Posted by Ben_H (3202 posts) -

I bought all the Dooms on Steam and am working through the first one. They are still a ton of fun. They're so simple but so satisfying. I had played the first Doom, but only the shareware and that was when I was like 5.

#5 Posted by Sarumarine (2059 posts) -

@Tordah: I think the Breaking Brad videos helped me set my expectations, especially the way they talked about it. Not to mention the shooting in Doom II still feels really good and has a nice selection of weapons. I'm somewhat impressed they didn't have a default assault rifle or submachine gun weapon variant, but I guess Doom came out before weapon types were standardized. I suppose the Chain Gun fills that rifle quota, but it doesn't feel like a standard assault rifle the way it can just fire until the ammo reserves are empty.

And yeah, playing this when someone is younger would get different reactions and lasting impressions. I'm in my 20s and seen all sorts of body horror and nightmarish creatures on different levels, so the pixelated designs of Doom creatures don't have the same impact. They do look really cool when they die the way they instantly decompose. I think that was probably my favorite part about the enemy designs.

@TonicBH: I didn't know that. Of course, there's a lot I don't know about the staff behind Doom. I know John Romero's name by osmosis. But when I played through "No Rest for the Living" the levels definitely had a way different feel. I assume that small collection of levels had a different designer?

#6 Posted by MikeGosot (3227 posts) -

Man, the shooting in Doom, oh man. Also, my favorite level is the one where you start in a circle with a bunch of doors, you open a door, bang there's a ton of enemies, you kill them, back to the circle. It's great, insane and simplistic fun withouth all the level design.

#7 Posted by Sarumarine (2059 posts) -

@MikeGosot: Oh yeah. That was a great level. So many enemies behind those doors. The one with the hundreds of imps was a lot of fun to open up on with the double barrel.

#8 Posted by ShaggE (5983 posts) -

You've gone down a deep, deep rabbit hole, my friend. There's so much Doom you should experience still... the first game, of course, some of the more well-known fan levels and conversions, the two major Doom 2 "fan-turned-retail" expansions, the so-bad-they're-fucking-awesome novels, the infamous comic book... there is just a wealth of Doom to be had.

#9 Posted by CptBedlam (4439 posts) -

@Sarumarine said:

@TonicBH: I didn't know that. Of course, there's a lot I don't know about the staff behind Doom. I know John Romero's name by osmosis. But when I played through "No Rest for the Living" the levels definitely had a way different feel. I assume that small collection of levels had a different designer?

For that reason alone I suggest you play the first Doom. Its level design is superior (better aesthetics, not as convoluted), especially the first episode which was designed by Romero.

#10 Posted by MikeGosot (3227 posts) -
@Sarumarine said:

@MikeGosot: Oh yeah. That was a great level. So many enemies behind those doors. The one with the hundreds of imps was a lot of fun to open up on with the double barrel.

I loved to open more than one. Gosh, respawning became hell.
#11 Posted by TwoLines (2762 posts) -

I love everything about Doom 2. I am a huge fan, and I have played it 20 times to completion on PC, PS1, PSP and Xbox 360 (No Rest For The Living is great). I have also played Plutonia and TNT (TNT is way better than Plutonia). The only thing I haven't played were the Master Levels for D2. Maybe someday.

My favourite level is probably the TNT one where you warp between different versions of the same level, then Barrels of Fun followed by the first level of NRFTL. Also, playing on Ultra Violence is much, much more fun than on any other difficulty.

#12 Posted by Sarumarine (2059 posts) -

@CptBedlam: Definitely up for more Doom. I'm interested in playing the first one.

@ShaggE: I don't think I'll pull a Vinny Caravella, but I am looking forward to playing the many versions of Doom when I find time for it.

#13 Posted by TonicBH (263 posts) -

@Sarumarine: The "No Rest for the Living" levels were made exclusively for the XBLA port by two guys who handled the port at Nerve Software. More info here.

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