Doom! clones are games based on the first-person perspective, violent model set by the game Doom!
The idea of “first-person perspective” is that you see the action as if you are looking with your own eyes at the scenes in front of you: all you can see of yourself in most of these games is your character’s hands and the weapon they are holding. You point and shoot, walk and run, and that’s about it. They are not generally regarded as being suitable for children because of their violent content (except for Tomb Raider), but that doesn’t stop children playing them and enjoying them greatly when parents can be packed off to the supermarket or somewhere.
Doom!: Well, the classic first-person perspective shooting game has to get a 10/10, doesn’t it? Monsters have taken over a military/scientific facility on one of the moons of Mars, and your job is to blast them out of there with your trusty guns, rocket-launchers and whatever else you can lay your hands on. Although it sounds like it will be nothing more than mindless violence, in fact the game is extremely well made and highly playable, and everyone I’ve watched try the game has enjoyed it immensely. Doom 2 is equally good, but the third game, Final Doom, was rather more difficult than the other two and by then I’d had enough really so I didn’t persist with it. Still, Doom! kept me busy for a year or three. Great fun with multiple players on an IPX network, as well, keeping its replay value high. Another factor here is the existence of secret areas: you will only find them all if you play on the higher difficulty levels – which themselves add to the replay value, since having gone through the game on easy, you just have to try it again with more monsters and fewer bullets. This game’s major selling points were, firstly, its incredible violence, and secondly, its graphics and easy gameplay, both of which were at least a generation ahead of anything else that was around at the time. Even in the fast-moving world of computer gaming, it took a couple of years for other games programmers to catch up with the sheer quality of this game. Another positive factor was that in the early days, the game’s first few “levels” or play areas were given away as ‘shareware’ so it was widely known about in the computer world. On purchasing the full game, you discover that it has a large number of these “levels.” The levels are distinct areas to explore, for example a nuclear plant, a warehouse, and so on. Very good value for money, even if you paid for it. 10/Ed2/Rp8
Quake: this is the official successor to Doom! and is made by the same people, with pretty much all the same features. It has better graphics than Doom! and different sorts of monsters to shoot. You can swim underwater. Unfortunately, it comes with very few levels to explore and so to me represents poor value for money. Very popular, especially with network players, but I just don’t see the point. Other people usually rate this game highly. I say, forget this game and get Unreal if you want a modern successor to Doom! 4/Ed2/Rp5
Hexen: A Doom! clone set in a medieval-style world. You can be a fighter, a cleric or a magician; each character class has different abilities and different weapons. The villains range from conventional two-headed reptilian humanoids to seriously powerful magical monsters that can “gate” in more monsters to help them fight you. This game is actually a sequel to Heretic, which came out at about the same time as Doom!, but Hexen is much more advanced – it makes Heretic and Doom! look primitive in some respects, although this game is by no means state-of-the-art by current standards. The action takes place in large arenas, with sub-arenas off the main one, so there is a lot of going back and forth between the different parts of each level to get from one arena to another. Sometimes also, you can get stuck because you need to find certain items to finish the levels, so there can be a bit of aimless wandering about trying to find them. I enjoyed the epic firefight with the big bad monster at the very end of the game. Very innovative, however, with great atmosphere. Overall 8/10. Other people rate it lower, usually. 8/Ed3/Rp7
Unreal: A straightforward Doom! clone with state-of-the-art graphics as at 1999. You are a prisoner, but your prison ship goes and crashes on an alien planet. Naturally, you escape, but then you have to get off this dangerous planet. The first enemy aliens I had a chance to shoot (there are friendly ones too) had two rocket-launchers apiece and there were two of them. I had a pistol. Hmm… Some of the aliens are extremely difficult to shoot as they dodge and sneak up on you from behind if you’re not careful. This makes for some genuinely frightening moments! Other monsters are simply huge and throw boulders the size of cars at you while you scamper about helplessly looking for some shelter. There are also a lot of very nice outdoor scenes for you to relax in for a few seconds until some alien thingy discovers you. Even though I had had enough of Doom! by the time this came out, I still enjoyed this game. It has vast numbers of levels, and they are each quite big as well. Very good value for money. Very good for network play too, and a special network tournament version is also available, although the original works very well as a network game. 9/Ed3/Rp7
Tomb Raider (1 & 2): Doom! clone or adventure game? This game falls somewhere between the two. Unlike Doom!, this is a “third person perspective” game, in that your character is visible the whole time and can act independently of your viewpoint (to a limited extent). Teenage male’s dream Lara Croft is the heroine, and you get to stand behind her wiggly bottom throughout the whole game! If you’re female, well, you are the clever and acrobatic Lara as she runs about in Inca tombs and places like that chasing after treasure and shooting the occasional crook. Yes, this game actually appeals to both sexes, for once. And in my view it is suitable for children, unlike other games in this category, although there is some violence in it. The graphics are a bit out-of-date, but the gameplay is so good that it doesn’t really matter. Unlike other Doom! clones where you can really only point and shoot, Lara can somersault, climb and jump as well and to make life easy she aims her guns for you. Good for younger players (age 10+ perhaps, depending on the person, and I’ve seen younger children enjoying exploring Lara’s country mansion, gymnasium and swimming-pool without venturing into any dodgy dungeons). If you don’t object to a modest amount of cartoon violence, then this is the Doom! clone to consider: there isn’t much shooting by the standards of other Doom! clones and even then Lara is mostly only shooting the occasional marauding wolves, bears, and creatures like that. And, there is no gore. Much of the game consists of exploration and puzzle-solving, and the violence is very much relegated to second place: Lara is really a female Indiana Jones, and the action is of a similar sort to what you will have seen in those movies. One gripe I have is that Eidos brought out TR1 half-made and tried to sell it again in a second version with the final parts in it: Tomb Raider 1 is now available in an “Unfinished Business” edition which contains the final levels that should have been in the original game! The original just ends halfway through! (You don’t have to buy “Unfinished Business” as the extra levels are officially available from here.) I have recently seen a version of Tomb Raider 2 with four extra levels but the same stunt hasn’t been pulled there – the game is complete in itself. Despite this, I still give the games 9/10. I haven’t tried TR3 or 4 yet. I’m told TR3 is just as good, but TR4 has more puzzles in it. If you get stuck, you can go to Stella’s site for a complete “walkthrough” description of what to do next. I give the games a high replay value because they contain a large number of levels to explore and will keep most players coming back to their computers for weeks. 10/10 really, but I’m knocking one off for the slightly dodgy graphics. 9/Ed5/Rp7
Half-Life: You are a scientist, and your experiment goes wrong, gating in a whole bunch of monsters from parallel worlds who run around attacking all and sundry. When the government finds out, it sends in the troops to kill the monsters – and you, to keep secret what has been going on here. Like Unreal, but more so, the enemies in this game are smart. For instance, when confronted by troops, they don’t just stand and shoot, they take cover, split up, try to surround you, and if you stand still for more than a few seconds, they will lob a grenade at you to flush you out if they think they know just where you are. The other human characters in the game are semi-intelligent, and you can get them to follow you around to open tricky doors for you (ones that need special passes, for instance) or to provide cover for you – the security guards are great for this: they just love showing off how good a shot they are. A bit too talkative though… Anyway, 9/10. Best played with a 3D accelerator graphics card such as Voodoo2. 9/Ed3/Rp7
Thief: The Dark Project: From the people that brought us Tomb Raider is another innovative Doom! clone, still in first-person perspective. Here, you are a medieval thief, and your mission is to sneak about robbing houses, breaking your friends out of prison, and other similarly questionable deeds. You have a bow and arrow and a sword to start with, but your aim is to avoid fighting because you will probably lose. You can pick pockets, and have the power to lurk in the shadows unseen, so use it! If you move, the guards will hear you (your feet make noises on the ground). Robbing houses turns out to be scary but exciting! Disgraceful, but that’s life, I suppose. Very little violence, so suitable for younger players if you don’t mind them learning how to be burglars! 8/Ed6/Rp5