Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
Spawn, sprint, left turn, elevator, shoot at the dog, cross the bridge, through the door, shoot the exploding barrel, left, right, right, hit the button to cover an acid pit, turn right down a corridor, hit the buttons down the ramps, hopping banisters to save time, left, right, up the ramp and hit the exit. Steam estimates that it takes 55 seconds to download Quake on a modern connection. I can complete the first level of its first world in 20 seconds. But it takes me no time at all to remember each part of the first first-person shooter I played.
Doom and Wolfenstein had already shown that first-person combat could be enthralling – and were games that I had watched others play and not controlled myself – but Quake brought more to it than simply polygonal monsters. Specifically, it brought proper movement through 3D space and made you feel like you were more than simply a hovering camera, a rotating tank, or a sliding dodge ’em. It felt good to jump. It felt good to run and dodge. The game’s pace didn’t always benefit from the more complex level design allowed by being able to put rooms above one another, but the shotguns and rocket launchers and grenade launchers all did.
I don’t think I ever completed Quake on my own (though I have definitely finished the final boss fight, I imagine I must have loaded it from the console), but it was a game that I went back to again and again simply for the fun of being inside it.
Steam’s estimate is wrong, by the way – it takes fewer than ten seconds for my computer to download it. So now I’ll go play it.