Bethesda's first of a few ports to the Nintendo Switch arrives this week, with the bloody action of DOOM. Is the portable version worth diving into, or should you skip it? Come inside to check out my review to see what I think!
I suppose I should start this review off by letting you know, I never had the chance to play the new Doom game on any other console either. I know, I know...it's shameful, but when you have four kids in the house, finding time to play an extremely brutal/blood-soaked game is difficult. Considering how much I loved playing the original games when I was younger (ironic I know), I was thrilled when Bethesda announced they were porting the new game to the Switch.
The portable nature of the console meant I'd be able to play the game wherever I wanted and not have to worry about the prying eyes of the younglings. Generally speaking, it's the primary reason I love the Switch so much, as I'm able to pick up and play when I can and enjoy some quality gaming, despite the hectic schedule we have at the house.
All that said, I did manage to squeeze in some time with the initial PlayStation 4 version so I could provide better comparison for the port...so let's get to it:
Ripping and Tearing
If you're somewhat familiar with the Doom story, don't expect any drastic changes in the new Doom. By and large, a big part of the new game's appeal is its back-to-basics approach. Within seconds, you're thrust into the action and having to fend off demons, much like we were in the very first game all those years ago. There's a little exposition here, mostly between slaughtering enemies, that sets up the basic plot of something going horribly wrong, and you're the dude to fix it...by killing everything you see.
It's gory, bloody fun, that goes against the grain of typical shooting games these days as there's no cover system, and no regenerating health bar. In many ways, it's much more along the lines of an arcade shooter. Power-ups and health litter the floor, so you'll have to traverse maps while unloading your weapon in order to stay alive. The game retains a ridiculously fast pace throughout, and it's a big part of its charm.
For the most part, if you stand still for any length of time, you're dead. Enemies are fast and dangerous; the only way to stay alive is to continually move about the maps, and find the best weapons to take them out. If you try and take the slower approach, ducking behind walls/rocks as you would in other FPS games, things don't go so well. The game forces you into action at virtually every step, though you're having so much fun the whole time it's not a problem.
The free-flowing combat, gory kills, and surprisingly fun weapon upgrade system makes you feel like a supreme badass in no time at all. It's a nitty gritty shooter that manages to do just about everything right.
The Switch Factor
Missions in the game are relatively short and move quickly, but the game rewards you for poking around the maps with special bonuses and nifty secrets to uncover. In this way, Doom feels well suited for the Nintendo Switch. The gameplay lends itself to a pick-up-and-play format, with quick sessions and moving on. While there's a story in the game that has some neat aspects to it, you don't necessarily have to pay attention in order to have fun.
As such, on the Switch, it's super easy to turn it on, play through a quick mission (or even a multiplayer match) in just a few minutes, and put the system back into sleep mode. For me, with all the kiddos, this is uniquely perfect and the game makes it easy to jump back into even if you stop playing for a few days.
Getting used to playing the game on the Switch, however, takes a little bit of time. The Joy-Cons aren't especially well suited for this type of gameplay, as the right joystick (which you use to aim) sits a little too low, making other movements mapped to the buttons above a little awkward feeling. It's not terrible, and after some adjustments and more time, I was eviscerating demons without a second thought about the controls. It does take some getting used to, however, which might be a little frustrating when you're getting started. If you have a Switch Pro Controller, that's definitely the way to go for Doom.
Technically speaking, Doom is a pretty impressive achievement for the portable hardware. It's a gorgeous game on the other consoles and it manages to bring a lot of that aesthetic over to the Switch. It's not the same, however, as the console limits you to 30 frames per second docked or undocked. Additionally, the resolution is capped around 720p, so it's not as crisp as you would have wanted. The colors are still bright, and the overall FEEL of the game's graphics remains the same. It's here that the game's fast-paced works to the Switch's advantage, as you're not normally standing around long enough to take in the sights. The high motion blur settings as you race through levels helps mask the fact that the textures just aren't as detailed.
A Solid Step Forward for Third-Party Switch Ports
If you own a Switch and haven’t played the new Doom yet, there’s no real reason I can think of to pass up this game. It’s an amazingly fun shooter game with solid mechanics, all of which manage to transfer over impressively well on the Switch. The graphics aren’t as crisp, and the controls take a little more time to adjust to, but overall, it’s does an excellent job showing that Nintendo’s portable console can handle these types of games without huge downgrades.