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Why I Love… Doom III

Happiness is a warm gun.

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

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.