Monday, August 8, 2022

DOOM 2 (PS4)

Since I went through was Doom meant for me at the time of its release in the previous review (here), I will focus on this one on the actual gameplay of these games. Doom 1 and 2 are similar enough as to not consider them completely different products, but they have a number of substantial changes: Not only a bunch of new enemies and the double-barreled shotgun, but also a different level design approach: Apparently the ID team tried to take advantage of hardware progress to create bigger and more open scenarios. That´s probably the case, but in my opinion Doom 2 is simply more fun. In the first game they might have tried to be somehow “realistic” in the scenarios – trying to make players feel in a space lab or a moon base – whereas in Doom 2 scenarios make little sense in regards to authenticity, but are definitively more interesting to play. They spawn enemies in strange locations, the architecture is completely bonkers... but precisely that allows to create many challenging and surprising combat situations the first game only hinted

On the other hand, I think both games suffer from a certain indecisiveness in terms of what game experience they wanted in the end. Not unusual considering game design was at its infancy in 1994: Some of the game mechanics call for slow pace progression (keys, labyrinthic layouts, secret walls) and others call for fastness (par times at the post-level screen, quick resolution of combat encounters, most weapons don´t need reloading, sprinting). In terms of design, Romero explained they just followed their instincts, and added whatever felt cool to have fun. Nowadays I believe designers need to be more vigilant on what is the target experience you´re going for

Sometimes you can even get stuck. However, I guess is fair to say back in the 90s you didn´t have access to so many leisure options. There was no internet, no free to play games, less TV channels, movies were almost exclusive to theatres… you could expect your players to not only try the game but also be unable to make progress for months, and give it second/third chances if you didn´t find the solution to a puzzle or find your way to the exit. Funny enough, there was a way to know if you were getting closer to an unexplored area: Back in those days, your hard drive would purr when loading new data, meaning you were approaching uncharted territory. Also could it be Doom the one that created that stereotype that when you find a room full of health, ammo and armor... that meant you were about to face a boss? Ah, I miss those little things from the early days...

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