Look, we know: If you asked 20 different people to name their five favorite levels of the DOOM series, you’d probably get 100 different answers. Each map has its own strengths, and no two players play DOOM the same way. That said, some levels just linger in memory, based on novelty, challenge or pure, clever design.
2. Suburbs – DOOM II
Sure, this map may not look all that much like your average trip to the suburbs. But there’s something about the open spaces and organic layout that captures the feel of wide expanses of lawn, tree-lined streets and chipper housewives pushing baby carriages. Only, you know, the lawns are acid, the trees want to kill you and the babies are demons.
Still, it’s not just the feel of the level that makes it such a winner; it’s the nonlinear design. Thanks to the open spaces, there’s a lot of back-and-forth movement as activity in one part of the map triggers new activity in another. You’ll find yourself ranging all over the place, often with unexpected outcomes.
One particularly memorable moment comes after grabbing the Blue key: You turn around triumphantly, only to discover that dozens of Imps have teleported in behind you, backed up by a chorus line of Cacodemons and Mancubi.
More important, though, is that this open design allows for players to tackle each challenge in whatever order they choose and do a fair amount of exploration without having to worry about an enemy hiding behind each corner. This kind of design is something we tend to take for granted today, but there was a time when it was revolutionary. DOOM II’s Suburbs is a wonderful example of that revolution in action.