Game Title: DOOM
Developer: ID Software, Panic Button, Bethesda
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Availability: Retail | Digital Download
Battery Life: 2.5 – 3.5 hours
Download: 21.3 GB (9 GB for Multiplayer with Retail Release)
Despite being a solely handheld review writer, there is one game that I have written an unofficial “mini review” of sorts in the past, and that was Doom 2016. As a massive fan of Doom ever since discovering the original on Windows 95, I’ve always loved diving into the franchise and it’s one of the few games that can get me off a handheld platform and play a console.,
Of course, Doom isn’t a stranger to handhelds, either. I’ve played Doom and Doom II for the Game Boy Advance so many times that my Doom II GBA cart is worn down and can barely be read anymore. I’d always hoped for a handheld port of Doom 3 BFG Edition for the PS Vita or Nintendo Switch, but as you all know, we got something even better. Bethesda promised us a Nintendo Switch port of Doom 2016, something that before its announcement, everyone thought was not possible to run on any current handheld system.
Now that I’ve had time to dive into it and clear the campaign, I’m ready to give you my thoughts. Here is my review of DOOM for the Nintendo Switch!
The basic setup of Doom 2016 is similar to the original Doom and Doom 3. You’re on Mars, Demons are invading and it’s up to you to stop them.
Of course, there’s a lot more to it than that. There is a lot of plot and lore to be found, be it from voice communications during the main story or the dozens of data files that give you the complete backstory on all characters, demons, environments, and items. There is a tale of a global energy crisis, a scientist making a deal with Demons in exchange for power, and even hints that You are the same Doom Marine from Dooms 1, 2, and Doom 64.
But, for all intents and purposes: Demons are invading. You are the only one who can stop them. Go find guns and shoot them into bloody corpses.
Doom is a fast-paced first-person shooting game. Across the entirety of the game, you will be running and gunning your way through wave after wave of demons and possessed humans with very mild puzzle elements in the form of color-coded card keys for unlocking doors.
The first thing to know about DOOM on the Nintendo Switch is that Panic Button removed the Snap Map Level Creator from this version of the game. Campaign Mode, Arcade Mode, and Multiplayer are still here, but Snap Map is gone, for reasons I’ll discuss in the Presentation Section of this review.
Now, Doom 2016 can basically be summarized as this: Imagine Classic Doom but with a graphical overhaul and modern shooter elements thrown in. Everything that made the original games what they were are here in Doom 2016. You have health and armor points instead of Call of Duty’s infamous Health-Regeneration system, color-coded card keys for accessing locked doors, and every level is full of secret areas and unlockables for you to go and find.
Gameplay itself, is also much more reminiscent of the original three Doom games than modern shooting games. The further you get in the game, the more overwhelmed you’re going to get by enemy numbers. What starts out as rooms of half a dozen demons will quickly turn into rooms filled with over a dozen demons or more all running towards you at the same time, leaving you no time to stand around and think strategy and just mindlessly run, strafe, and shoot until everything goes down.
This leads Doom’s Single Player campaign to be an adrenaline rush, especially in the second half of the game. Even those playing on Easy Mode will have plenty of moments where one wrong step can mean the difference between spacing out the horde to a manageable level or ending up in a corner with 2 Barons of Hell caging you in and pummeling you to death.
Putting a more modern touch on things, the game added a weapon and armor upgrade system. There are secret areas in each level with weapon upgrades you can equip and armor memory chips that can increase technological prowess of your Armor Suit. You can also further enhance the game by finding Secret Rune Trials that unlock special Cheat-like systems that enable you to get more ammo, perform special kills faster, and even maintain infinite ammo so long as you don’t lose too much health.
Campaign Mode is the real meat of the game and will take you at least 12 hours to complete your first time around. After that, you’ve got Arcade Mode that lets you play Campaign Levels in a High Score system and Multiplayer to fight with others over the net. As far as replayability goes, though, there are a lot of secrets in each level not easily found. Most notably are Classic Doom levels, which once found, allow you to play through stages from Doom 95 and Doom II with the updated graphics on enemies and your own character.
The controls for Doom are familiar if you’ve played other versions of the game. Once you get into gameplay, everything feels very much like it does in the PS4 version of the game. The main exception is that menus use the basic Nintendo format of A being select and B being cancel.
Moving around is done with the Left Analog Stick and the camera can be moved with the Right Analog Stick. The Right Analogs “click” button is used for special kills and interacting with objects, just as R3 is on PS4. The L and R triggers are used for sub-weapons and the Weapon Wheel, while ZL and ZR are used for aiming and firing your primary weapon.
Then the face buttons come in. A is used for crouching and B for jumping, while X and Y are used for pulling out the specialty weapons like the Chainsaw.
Here is where things get interesting. As far as graphical quality, the models in Doom on Nintendo Switch look pretty much exactly the same as the models in Doom on PS4/Xbox One. But the game did have to make some sacrifices to become playable in a handheld format.
If you stop moving in-game and take a look at everything around you, you’ll notice a blur on pretty much anything not right in front of you. This seems to have been done on purpose to maintain a steady frame-rate as the game has Motion Blur settings to High by default, and the effect is a little stronger when you move from TV Mode into Handheld Mode.
This is good and bad. The good aspect is that they did this and didn’t have to reduce the graphics engine much in the transition from PS4/XB1 → Switch. The bad aspect is that it looks blurry when you stop moving and it makes reading text very difficult to do on larger TVs. I can read everything clearly on my 720p 21” TV, but I have a difficult time reading any of the data files on my 32” 1080p TV.
As far as performance goes, Load Times have improved. I compared times between the Switch and PS4 versions, and the PS4 loads story campaign stages about 11 seconds longer than the Switch does. Granted, you could still be waiting 30-40 seconds for a new story level to load, but 30-40 seconds is better than 50-60 seconds on the PS4.
Frame-rate is the biggest thing to talk about here, though. Doom on Switch has a steady 30 fps for most of the game, though there are a few sections where it is known to drop under 30. During these sections, the blurring effect seems to intensify, which causes these frame drops to feel more like slow motion in the game than freezing and jumping. It’s not that great to have these frame drops, but the way this “slow motion” drop types goes maintains the smooth feel of the gameplay and will not throw you off as much.
With how graphic and resource-heavy Doom is, I did not expect Battery Life to even be as high as games like Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey, but here are the times I got, from 100% to 0%
Max Brightness + Wi-Fi – 2 hours, 41 minutes
Max Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 2 hours, 46 minutes
Low Brightness + Wi-Fi – 2 hours, 58 minutes
Low Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 18 minutes
So, it’s around the same range as Super Mario Odyssey. Not really that high, but that was to be expected out of Doom