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While Nintendo was one of the two companies involved the first time the words "console war" were ever uttered, the fact is that for the last several generations, the company has tried to do everything they can to separate themselves from their competition in that regard. They don't claim to be better, but rather, they claim to be different, and as such, for the last several years "Nintendo games" have been something "other" than what's available for the other two consoles and the PC. If the same game ever did appear on the Wii or the Wii U, it was expected beforehand to be something lesser, with numerous concessions made for the Nintendo systems reduced capability in the hardware department.
This made the announcement that Doom, the 2016 rebootquel of one of the titles that helped define the FPS as a genre, was coming to the Nintendo Switch more than a little surprising. Would the notoriously family-friendly company even allow such a title to arrive on the Switch in all of its gory glory? And even if they did, could the glorified handheld system handle it? The answer to those two questions, in order, are "yes" and "pretty much."
Let's start with the basics, Doom on the Switch is, structurally, almost exactly Doom as it appeared on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 a year ago. You play as a nameless, faceless, space marine who gets woken up from a long slumber because there are demons on Mars, and somebody needs to kill them all. This leads the player to navigate the facility in which he finds himself, snapping limbs, blowing up demons, and otherwise kicking ass while you chew the bubble gum on his behalf.
While we'll get to the differences, the game is the same game. The levels of the campaign are all intact and appear as they did in the previous version of the game. Every gun, every brutal demon slaying neck snap, every power up and ability is there just as it was in the original game. It is fairly remarkable just how well the game does translate to the Switch. Combat is fast and furious and fun. There's something to be said for an FPS, that just ignores the details in order to focus on blowing stuff up, something that Doom does quite literally. The player character doesn't give two shits about the story or the plot, he just wants to kill stuff, and it's difficult to not just go along with him.
While the Switch's graphical abilities hang with Doom fairly well, it's not a perfect translation. Switch resolution quite simply can't compare with the other consoles and while a 720p resolution should be fine for all but the snobbiest players, frame rate has a tendency to falter from time to time. This results in visuals that become muddy, and considering that pretty much everything in Doom, from the backgrounds to the bad guys, exists in some shade of red and black, when things get muddy it means losing the thing you're trying to shoot out in the background of the Martian landscape. Of course, much of the action is so fast in Doom that such things are likely to happen anyway.
This issue becomes a bigger problem in multiplayer as having multiple characters on screen at the same time can cause serious frame rate problems. My own personal multiplayer experience also included connections problems, though those issues don't appear to be widespread and thus may not have been the fault of the game.
Of course, playing a game on the Nintendo Switch means playing a game two different ways. In handheld mode, the benefits of Doom become amplified, but so do its negatives. The ability to take a full version of Doom on the road with you is as much fun as that sounds. The game doesn't lose much in the transition. However, the game's problems become even more pronounced. Muddy textures become an even bigger issue when you only have the small touchscreen to look at. On-screen text is just short of unreadable since much of it only appears at the bottom of the screen.
If you've never played the newest edition of Doom, the Nintendo Switch version of the game is a faithful port of the game that will be a lot of fun for those looking for an enjoyable FPS experience. It's not perfect, but it may be about as close to it as a game can get on the Switch that wasn't expressly designed to take advantage of the consoles strengths. Hopefully, we'll see more developers working to bring games over to the popular console. The more that do, the more will find ways to overcome the Switch's issues and games will only get better.
This review based on a Nintendo Switch version of the game provided by the publisher.
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