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Have You Played… Doom 3?

Mars larks

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Much of last year’s FPS love may have gone to capslocked DOOM but spare a thought for the try-hard, cliché-fueled darkness binge that was Doom 3. In 2016 the franchise had become self-aware enough to indulge its overblown past, yet back in 2004 the bad penny still hadn’t dropped. There were experiments gone wrong, there were zombies, there were messages on the walls written in blood. I have mixed feelings about it all.

It had one interesting thing: the torch. You could use this to light up gloomy corridors but at the expense of holding a gun. At the time, I despised this move. It seemed so implausible even within the lunacy of the setting. Here you are, a space marine trapped in a future-installation on Mars and you are still unable to duct tape a flash light to the barrel of your shotgun. But to understand all is to forgive all – id Software wanted to keep you feeling vulnerable right up until the last moment when you whipped out your rifle and hosed down the corridor with bullets. It worked, sort of.

But it was also stupidly long. Just as it seemed to be ending, another ridiculous twist would occur and you’d have to go scrambling to another section of the base, another shrugging objective to complete before you clocked it. On the one hand, this seemed to be good value for money. On the other hand, you couldn't help but whimper onward. "I really thought this narrative climax would be the last one." I can’t remember what happens at the end-end (I can’t even remember what happens at the beginning) but I do remember feeling relieved when I finally saw the credits, which is what a good sci-fi horror game ought to do, I guess?

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