After Doom came out, after the shooting of many men and many hellbeasts, a peculiar term was used in the gaming community to refer to similar titles. Instead of calling them First-Person Shooters, games in a first-person perspective where you shot things were referred to as Doom Clones. Heretic, Rise of the Triad, and Duke Nukem 3D were all tarred with the Doom Clone brush, perhaps unfairly.
But what if it wasn't such an unfair nickname? What if there was a quantifiable scale to see how similar to Doom a game is? What if that was the content of this article?
Visual representation of health - 5 points
Bloody portrait - 3 bonus points
Doomguy's ever-present portrait directly at the bottom of the screen served a few purposes. He would look in the direction of incoming fire when you were attacked, and the more damage you took the more bruised and bloodied he became. When you first start he's a cocky fellow, one eyebrow raised as he peers around the environment. Take a few too many hits and his demeanour deteriorates, gaining a bloody nose, ruptured vessels in his eyes, and teeth flecked with claret, eventually sagging to a defeated slump. Poor Doomguy.
Satanic imagery - 5 points
Inverted crosses? Sure. Pentagrams? Why not. Literally going to hell? There is a reason it's called Doom.
Secrets - 5 points
You can blast through E1M1 in under 20 seconds, but doing so would miss the point. It's about the journey not the destination, and if you ignore the mysteries that Hangar has to offer then you will find yourself missing out on a shotgun and some lovely armour. They're all entirely optional, but given proper investigation you will find many marvellous rewards. E1M2 is home to a Chaingun, and there are many more tucked around Mars and its moons.
Speedrunning - 5 points
Just because there are incentives to taking your time doesn't mean you have to. An entire competitive scene has arisen around the act of racing through levels at a breakneck pace. The fast movement of the character encourages seeking a perfect line through the maps, squeezing as few seconds as they can before moving on to the next one. This is reflected in-game as well, with every level bearing a Par Time. You don't get any bonuses if you beat it, but it is quite satisfying to do so.
Guns - 5 points
Rocket launchers - 3 points
This should be worth more. How can you have a video game without guns?
Difficulty levels that are not Easy / Medium / Hard - 5 points
I genuinely miss when the difficulty scale on games had names like "Hurt Me Plenty" and "I Am A Chew Toy". These were probably phased out when it stopped being clear whether you were picking an easier or a harder difficulty, but where's the charm?
Maps - 5 points
Right, this one is important. Many modern FPSes have focused on simple linear progression through their levels. Essentially, corridors filled with goons to leading you from one set-piece to another. The much more open design of the maps in Doom allows you to take encounters at your pace and understand the space. Backtracking to find areas you may have missed fills out the automap in a particularly cathartic manner, too.
Red key to red door - 5 points
It's a very simple way of breaking up a map and encouraging exploration, but it's also a very effective way of pacing the level. Coming up against a solid iron door with no way through instead diverts your attention to another part of the map, and returning later rewards you with even more dudes to kill on the other side of the portal.
Health kits - 5 points
Powerups - 3 points
I bloody love health kits, me. Doom's persistent health meter made every encounter meaningful as the forces of hell whittle down your life bit by bit. After a few bumps and scrapes you may not worry, but get hit too many times and you need to seek out restoration, leading to searching for secrets. If you used a health kit earlier in the level, then will you find yourself cursing your actions when as your numbers tick down? It makes the entire game so much more tense as you second guess all your decisions, and what seems to be a regular fps becomes more about resource management.
Also you get a powerup that makes you punch monsters so hard that they burst like a water balloon filled with offal.
Break HP limit - 5 points
While Medkits and Stimpacks will raise your health to its starting position of 100%, grabbing a small blue vial increases your health by 1% over the limit. Eventually you can collect twice as much health as you should have up to a cap of 200%, but being filled with lead will cause it to drop. If you find the Supercharge powerup then you're immediately granted a bonus 100% health. Pick one up while at full health and you instantly get the maximum health possible. Being able to break the HP limit is a relatively small thing in the grand scheme of Doom, but it wouldn't be the same without.
Imps - 5 points
Look at those lil guys.
Monster in-fighting - 3 points
Fuck those lil guys.
Weapons with profane names - 5 points
The BFG 9000 is not a big friendly gun under any circumstances. This trend has not been abandoned either, with weapons such as The Penetrator in Saint's Row and The Big Boner in Shadows of the Damned.
Loud guitar soundtrack - 5 points
The thumping tones of E1M1 set the stage excellently, and the rest of the game is filled with music that fits the atmosphere. The pounding MIDI drums and guitar just work, and I can't imagine any other music echoing around the halls.
Barrels / Crates - 5 points
Phobos base is littered with barrels of luminescent ooze. Apparently not stored very well either, only a few bullets causing them to explode in a fireball. Kite some enemies over to a barrel, pop it with a shotgun, and take them all out with little effort. Excellent.
Not on Earth - 5 points
On Mars - 3 points
Mars is known by the Marine Corps as the ass-end of space conquest. Our character was sent there after assaulting his commanding officer while everybody else has adventures around the galaxy. The alien setting makes the world feel just that bit more unwelcoming, and skipping through different dimensions takes it further through the different episodes. The fact that the game takes place on Mars just makes it feel much more Peak Video Games.
Cheat codes - 5 points
Cheats have somewhat gone the way of the dodo, instead of tapping in a button combination you simply pay for the privilege of unlocking some bonus experience or money. Most true doom murderheads will be able to recite the input for full armour, guns and ammo.
Recently dead as set decoration - 5 points
Most other marines didn't last very long in Deimos base, their disemboweled bodies arranged scattershot through the winding corridors. Some are sources of ammo, others hold keys, all are a grisly reminder that the forces of hell don't take prisoners.
The review metric in action:
Shadow Warrior 2013
Secrets, Speedrunning, Guns, Rocket launchers, Maps, Health kits, Break HP limit, Imps, Loud guitar soundtrack, Barrels / Crates, Cheat codes, Recently dead as set decoration
68 / 100
Satanic imagery, Secrets, Speedrunning, Maps, Loud guitar soundtrack, Barrels / Crates, Recently dead as set decoration
35 / 100
Shadow of the Colossus
Visual representation of health, Satanic imagery, Secrets, Speedrunning, Maps, Powerups, Not on Earth, Recently dead as set decoration
38 / 100
Red Faction Guerrilla
Secrets, Speedrunning, Guns, Rocket launchers, Maps, Loud guitar soundtrack, Barrels / Crates, Not on Earth, On Mars
41 / 100
Thom is a Midnight Resistance regular contributer and the Axl Rose of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate tutorial videos. Tweet him at @TriHugs.