There's nothing like a comment thread filled with hate to plant a seed of doubt in the mind of a reviewer. Or vitriolic emails from grumpy elder gamers (and even some olden-times paper letters sent in actual envelopes), telling me the 90 per cent I'd just awarded Doom 3 in PC Zone was a clear sign I was corrupt, clueless or both.
For a while I thought they were probably right. I'd spent 48 hours in a dark room in a hotel in Slough, sat in a clammy funk of fellow reviewers, encountering Doom 3's gold code. Perhaps that happy splurge of imp-death, darkness and bonking pinkies on the nose with a torch had indeed confused me?
Outwardly I entered a deep, dark cycle of self-justification. Everyone from friends to impatient bus drivers got the same spiel about how the 'torch OR weapon' mechanic was actually a great idea.
I was on a hiding to nothing. My Doom 3 proclamations quickly became as repetitive as a never-ending sequence of sci-fi laboratories, ducts and offices. My argument was as hollow as gun-zombie AI.
My thoughts were burning into cinders seconds after they'd tumbled out of my stupid mouth, in the same disappointing way as a recently despatched Hell-Knight. My story was as branchless as that bit where you choose whether or not to send out a distress signal, but it doesn't matter anyway.
If my apparently wrong opinion had ever had an expansion pack released it would be held aloft by an extremely creaky gravity gun rip-off. It would have been delivered by a bored-looking NPC called Dr Elizabeth McNeil who had oddly trapezoidal breasts which could well have come from the Hell dimension. You get the picture.
Doom 3 got generally good reviews (Eurogamer gave it 9/10) but public opinion was divided. If the hate/love opinion spectrum was visualised through the medium of a pack of fruit pastilles, there'd be six horrid yellow ones, three greens and a meagre one or two delicious purples.
Six years of self-flagellation and a replay later though, and do you know what? I was right. My love of Doom 3 was well founded.
That said, Doom 3 wasn't the second coming many hailed it to be. Reviewers who held it up as a direct reinvention of its forefather somehow forgot the original's vast open spaces and speedy pacing.
However, it was a tightly constructed and hugely engaging shooter. It was far, far more enjoyable when consumed on Xbox and with a gamepad - alongside Chronicles of Riddick, it was an amazing example of what could be pumped out of Microsoft's original console in its final years.
Sure, it was mindless, and it overstayed its welcome to some degree. But as far as fulfilling your base desires for mindless shooting after a hard day at work goes, Doom 3 more than delivered.
What's more the Doom menagerie, from shambling zombies all the way through to ArchVile, remains the most iconic and beautifully designed of all time. True, the finale, with its rubbish hovery soul cube, wastes the sheer might of the Cyberdemon to some degree - but the visual impact and engaging shootery engendered by the fly-baby Cherubs, scuttling Trites and shambling Mancubuses (Mancubi?) hasn't been matched in scale by any shooter since.
The descent into, and out of, Hell in Doom 3 really was a treat for eyes, ears and trigger fingers. It's just that if any of the above were attached to a brain doing any degree of actual thinking, the effect was dramatically reduced.
Sure, it could have been condensed. If there's anything gaming has taught us it's that endless corridors numb the soul. But Doom 3's UAC Mars base remains a superb ghost train of impressive light effects, distant screams and gurgles and an occasional body hanging from a light fitting.
Given the solid foundation of guts being spewed out of vents, gribblies leaping at you from the dark and the bit with a chainsaw - what exactly is wrong with being a solid, engaging shooter that's old-school enough to hide its entire armoury behind your keyboard's numerical line-up?
To bring up a more minor point, meanwhile, it's a real shame more PC games haven't picked up on the function where you simply wander up to a computer screen and click away on it with your mouse, or indeed sift through emails on a PDA that have apparently been sent by Finchy from The Office about an upcoming pub quiz.
Similarly, what's wrong with such a fairly basic story when the overarching themes of a Hell dimension breaking into Mars are so compelling? Geographically, it might have been a sprawl - but the sense of location, threat and solitude within the UAC base is brilliantly captured through the art design, audio diaries and a story that might be extraordinarily basic, but is still impeccably delivered.
Dead Space would, of course, later replay the Doom 3 tune note for note, yet somehow it still wouldn't be as fundamentally compelling. By my reckoning if Dead Space's endangered crewmen had recorded worried and vaguely campy last posts on their PDAs, containing their credit card details and the numerical codes for the nearest ammo locker, perhaps it could have raised its game.
Back in 2004 Doom 3 was a game with the sensibilities of yesteryear, polished to an immaculately high sheen. Spawning into the same pool as the truly game-changing Half-Life 2, however, would mean that comparatively it'd play like a dinosaur.
Simultaneously, the relentlessly claustrophobic approach put-off those who enjoyed that first Doom revolution back in 1993. On top of this, if your gaming habit was of the variety that started a game one evening and had it completed by tomorrow lunch-time, the repetition of Doom 3 would have prompted a violent assault on the milkman at around 6am. I can honestly understand why people were disappointed.
To truly love Doom 3 the laboratory conditions must be correct. The lights must be off, your significant other must be asleep and you must have one hour before bed. The more rational parts of your brain must have been dulled by a hard day's work and/or a sensible alcohol intake.
Tick these off your objective list and by my reckoning, there is no better orgy of death to relax with than Doom 3. I still love it, and I'm not ashamed.
(Next month: Why XIII was definitely worth the 83 per cent Will gave it, but only if you've been injecting your eyeballs with ketamine.)