Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
I change my mind whenever anyone asks me (important: no-one ever asks me) whether Doom or Doom II is the best Doom game, but one thing that was always certain was that Doom II was the best Doom sequel. Nowadays, I’m not so sure.
2016’s Doom reboot (albeit with sequel subtext) was such a damn good time, a slow and quiet start aside. It worked out what the essence of the original Doom was (i.e. a tricky combination of both reality and nostalgia that it managed, against all odds, to pull off), then remixed it into something all its own. This is, as far as I’m concerned, a true sequel. Taking the familiar somewhere meaningfully new.
Doom II didn’t do that. Doom II was the obvious sequel, which is to say more of a good thing. I love Doom II, but I love it much more now than I did at the time, when the presence of one new weapon and mostly the same baddies made it hard to distinguish between it its predecessor. Seeing it with more adult eyes gives me far more appreciation of how its levels throw absolutely everything at the wall without actually devolving into incomprehensible abstraction. This is contained madness, expert control of designs that could have gone wrong in a thousand different ways.
It’s probably the Doom game I’m mostly likely to drop back into if I have a spare half hour, but at the same time I’m not sure it manages to surpass the first few levels of its parent. And nor does it take it anywhere really new. I love Doom II and always will, but it’s no longer the best Doom sequel.
Ask me on the right day and it’s the best Doom game, mind you.