Sunday 21 November 2021

Doom II (Tapwave Zodiac review)

Developer: MachineWorks Northwest
Publisher: id Software
Released: 2004

Doom II is a first-person shooter and a handheld port of the 1994 MS-DOS game.

There's 32 levels (broken down into three episodes) and you must descend into the depths of Hell in order to save Earth from the forces of the netherworld. As per the original Doom (1993, MS-DOS), the premise is usually to locate coloured keys to open locked doors and eventually reach the exit. The game does a terrific job of creating ridiculously intense sequences, and while some of this is built on jump scares (e.g enemies appearing directly behind an opening door) it also comes from the creepy sound design where you can hear ominous creatures lurking around the environment before you actually see them. The action is furiously paced with no slowdown and the button layout on the Tapwave Zodiac works well, particularly the shoulder buttons for quick strafing. However, attempting to turn 180° is occasionally tricky, as the console's analog stick tends to overcompensate by over-steering on the horizontal axis. Also, the scenery can be incredibly dark at times with walls and textures becoming very pixelated, leaving you with no choice but to blindly walk into perilous territory. The level design is top-notch though and while you're usually on fetch quests for coloured keys it never feels like a chore due to the intriguing layouts, clever enemy placement and multitude of secret passages for you to locate. The puzzles are great fun too and help to slow down the pace to rebuild the tension and anticipation of the next battle. There's not much innovation though when compared to the original Doom and it's a shame that there's only one new weapon, that being the Super Shotgun; it's extremely powerful though and comes in handy for dispatching multiple monsters in quick succession.

Doom II doesn't do a great deal to advance the series, but its sublime level design, huge maps and wealth of content offer plenty of reasons to jump in. This Zodiac version is an impressive port that includes all of the levels from the MS-DOS original and despite some minor issues with the controls it runs almost flawlessly.

Random trivia: An in-game keyboard can be accessed for cheat codes by pressing a certain button combination.

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