Still great as a game, merely decent as a sequel
So you went to hell and loved every second of it. Guess what? Now hell is coming your way baby! That's right, Doom has returned guns blazing, and if you thought it was a nerve-wrecking, balls-to-the-walls, ultra-violent action fest the first time around, then be prepared because Doom 2 comes with bigger, harder levels to complete, even more grueling artwork, and much more enemies to decimate and mutilate.
Doom 2 improves upon the original by adding an atmosphere of sheer chaos with dozens of Demons going for your throat as well as out to get themselves. One of the simple yet clever ideas found on Doom was the fact that the monsters hated themselves as much as they hated you, and thus you could waltz in a room and find a couple of demons duking it out (which makes quite a bit of sense, since you wouldn't expect deranged demons to wait around calmly until you happened to stroll by, wouldn't you?). However in the original this was at best a cosmetic detail that happened every now and then. On Doom 2 however this is taken to the extreme and you can find yourself in the midst of veritable wars among feuding demons, in fact one of the most memorable levels consists of nothing but rooms filled with demons going at each other (and you if you get in the way) And that "everyone against everyone" only serves to raise even more that "holy-shit-just-shoot-and-pray-they-don't-kill-you" feeling of mad desperation Doom introduced to the world! In a word... Brilliant!
The levels themselves are also much bigger and well laid out, without the overdose of mazes that sometimes plaged the original (though never at the extent of say, Dark Forces). In short, pretty much everything that was added is cool, the new enemies are fantastic (my favorites being the rocket-launching Revenant and the Arch Vile, which ads an interesting twist to the game since he can resurrect the enemies you have already dispatched). The double-barreled shotgun is simply amazing and gives a feel of satisfaction that not even the original pump-action one had. Nothing beats that feeling you get from watching a bull demon charging at you and then stopping him dead on it's feet at the last second with one deafening double-barreled shot to the head... ah..... 'tis the simple things that matter, right? :))
Yeah, it's all good right? The problem is that when you think about it, for as good as it is it just isn't enough for a sequel. This is the sort of small additions and improvements you would expect in an expansion pack, not a full-blown sequel. I mean, when you get right down to it, it's just better level design, some new textures, 7 new enemies and one new weapon... wee...
I am not the type of player that demands a new engine for every incarnation of a series, but c'mon.... Doom 2 is certainly the best example of "let's just add some stuff and re-sell the whole thing" they didn't even bother to add an ending cutscene this time around, which is okay since nobody plays Doom for it's story but shows the level of lazyness with which the game was released.
Another not-so-hot point is the level of difficulty in the single player part of the game, sometimes it can be just plain imposible! If you were amongst the ones that rejoiced on killing every enemy and discovering every secret on a level, then you better lose that custom pal, 'cos most of the time you are going to be running for the exit praying nothing hits you in the back. Really, I don't want to be over-dramatic but Doom 2 IS HARD. VERY HARD. Even ANNOYINGLY hard, so much so that it feels like a trick to cover what we all already know by now: this isn't worthy as a sequel.
The Bottom Line
So yeah, yeah, Doom kicks ass, it always has, and it always will. But Doom 2 certainly is a letdown as the sequel to one of the best videogames ever... the only thing that saves it is that it is overall slightly better than it's predecessor, and that it literally came out a year after the original (effectively saving it from the "You took XX years to give us the Same thing all over again???").
Still it was flat-out unaceptable at it's time, and I really hated id for not putting more effort into it. However, considering that you no longer have to worry about such things as it's price (45-55 u$s when released) or that you had to have a pretty beefy machine to run it, then Doom 2 is still worth it. Just think of it as an expansion of the original and you'll be okay. Be warned tough, it is NOT for FPS newbies and it is effectively one of the hardest fps ever made. Those looking for a challenge will find that they may bite more than they can chew...