When id Software originally released Doom II for the PC platform, it was quite well received. It offered 32 new levels to explore, which was 10 more than were present in the previous game, as well as additional enemies, weapons, and power-up items. Not only were there more levels, but they were also larger and more complex. All of these improvements hold true for the Game Boy Advance version of Doom II as well, but perhaps more important is that this conversion is much closer to its corresponding PC incarnation than last year's release of Doom was.
Doom II on the GBA contains all 32 main areas from the PC game, something that wasn't true of the previous PlayStation and Saturn ports. If you've played Doom, you pretty much know what to expect in Doom II. Although there are more switches and puzzles to solve, the real emphasis is on combat. The cast includes 15 different enemy creatures, and every level is full of them. Throughout the game, you'll acquire an array of nine different weapons, including the macho double-barreled shotgun and the massive BFG-9000, as well as the typical assortment of pistols, chainguns, and rocket launchers.
One of Doom II's nicer aspects is its multiplayer support. Every level offers a deathmatch mode for up to four players. Additionally, there's a two-player cooperative mode that enables you and a friend to play through the game simultaneously. You'll need a link cable and a separate cartridge for everyone.
Compared to other first-person shooters on the Game Boy Advance, Doom II is somewhat lacking in terms of goals and strategy. Switch puzzles rarely have more than one or two possible combinations, and there aren't any timed escapes or daring rescues. As a result, combat can become repetitive and tiresome. Nevertheless, the game does have its moments, such as those times when you have to navigate a series of crusher traps or when you're unexpectedly teleported into a room full of enemies. The levels in Doom II are also larger and the rooms are generally more expansive than those found in other first-person shooters on the GBA, which offsets the unfortunate lack of strategy, since you actually have time to dig in and enjoy a battle.
You really don't have to struggle to appreciate what Torus Games has done to bring Doom II to the Game Boy Advance. The gameplay is solid, and the visuals and audio are extraordinary. The textures are more plentiful and of a higher quality than those found in last year's conversion of Doom, and the lighting is more complex. At the same time, very few levels have been altered from their original configurations. Only the pickiest of Doom II fanatics will notice the extra walls present in expansive levels or complain that corpses disappear shortly after you frag them. The music and sound effects have survived the conversion pretty well also. Gunshots and explosions are satisfying, and the soundtrack is melodic and diverse. Once in a while, the instruments behind the music seem garbled, but it's nothing that'll shake your concentration.
It is true that Doom II doesn't offer much more than 32 levels full of gunplay, but there's a lot to enjoy if that's your taste. Each stage is larger and more impressive than the last, and there are four difficulty settings to master. The ability to play along with friends is equally valuable. There are a handful of other first-person shooters on the Game Boy Advance, and a few of them are certainly more complete when it comes to overall design, but none are as vicarious or as stimulating as Doom II.