Doom Switch review: Rip & tear on the go

Doom.

It was the game of a generation.

It was also one of the first first-person shooters I played on my dad’s 486 PC when I was a teenager (a long, long, long, long time ago). That was the days when DOS was a thing and games came on floppy discs (young people: Ask an adult what they were).  Doom was a game that kicked off FPS gaming for a whole generation.

Fast forward lots of years and Doom has seen several iterations, on several platforms, each one founded on iD’s tech. Last year’s, Doom was a smash hit – and now it’s on an unlikely platform: Nintendo’s Switch. It works:  Yes, there are some compromises but, frankly, when it’s played in portable mode, it looks bloody good to me.

Of course, to get Doom running on the Switch, developer Panic Button has made serious compromises: Graphically, things are a lot blurrier and lower resolution than on its console and PC counterpart, and at times, the frame rate drops are noticeable (the game tries to reach 30 frames per second all the time, and seems to mostly achieve that, according to tech reviewers who know more about that thing than I do) but this is the full 2016 Doom experience. On the Switch. Something that is essentially a tablet when compared to the other platforms.

Sure, graphics downgrade further when in docked mode – and I can’t imagine anyone wanting to play the game in docked mode on a 55-inch TV – but Doom is a much better experience when played in portable mode. This is a version that is for the bus ride home, the long drive to that holiday destination or the plane flight. The Switch’s 6-inch screen means that the graphical compromises aren’t as noticeable and the game works because Doom is the type of game that is meant to played fast-paced, with the player moving swiftly from location to location. It’s not designed for camping and hiding behind cover while enemies search for you.

Doom on the Switch can’t compete with the version on Xbox, PlayStation and PC. It just can’t and I don’t thing it’s fair comparing it to other formats, which have much more power and graphical capabilities (especially on PC, where with a top-end GPU you can crank everything up to 11). I don’t think the point of porting Doom to the Switch was to compete with the other version. I think the point was to show that, actually, a fast-paced, first-person shooter can work on Nintendo’s handheld console. The glory kills are here, the gore is here, the atmosphere is there: This is Doom.

There are purists who will say Doom on Switch doesn’t compare with the Xbox/PS/PC version and people are just cutting it slack because “It’s incredible that it’s on a portable platform at all” – and they’d be right to a certain degree (on how it doesn’t compare to versions on more powerful platforms) so they should steer clear of it, but for me, I determine a game on how fun it is, not whether it has cutting-edge graphics and how it compares to versions of it. Bottom line for me: Doom on Switch is a hell (pun intended) of a lot of fun on the Switch and frankly it look bloody fantastic.

Something that was a pain for me – and again it’s probably due to my eyes – but on-screen text was painfully small and hard to read: Even with my glasses on. Actually, even my son, who has 18 year old eyes, said the text was hard to read. He liked it but reckoned it could have looked better.

It’s good to see that major publishers are supporting the Switch but one concern I have with Bethesda’s strategy is that Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is coming to the Switch in early 2018 – and I’m not convinced that game is going to work as well as Doom. I haven’t played it but it’s a graphically stunning title that I’m not sure the Switch can do justice without some serious compromises. I guess we’ll find out next year.

Look, I might have old eyes but, man, this looks bloody good to me.

Pre-E3 day one: Bethesda brings the Doom, Dishonored & Fallout 4

Bethesda

Bethesda opened up its pre-E3 press event today, revealing the new Doom and, if I’m being honest, I was shocked by the gore on show.

I’ve played the Doom games (I played the original Doom on my father’s 486-power PC when I was a teenager) so know about the Over The Top violence, but the graphic nature of the new Doom, thanks to the realism a new generation of hardware can provide, took me somewhat by surprise. Maybe I’ve reached Over The Top Violence critical mass?

Maybe I’m getting old, but part of me wondered whether the gore was entirely necessary. Look, I’m not shocked by violence in movies or games if it’s central to the narrative but part of me saw the gruesome nature of Doom’s violence as perhaps fuel for anti-video game advocates to further have a go at our pastime. Clearly, the new Doom will be R-rated..

Doom is out in November for Xbox One, PC and PlayStation 4.

Bethesda also announced Dishonored 2, the follow-up to Arkane Studio’s great FPS game where you played an assassin in a steam-punk inspired London. This time, players will be able to play as either master assassin Corvo Attano or Emily Kaldwin, the daughter of the murdered Empress from the first Dishonored.

No release date was given for the game, which leads me to believe that it won’t be out till next year some time.

The biggest announcement, not surprisingly, was saved till last (although, it wasn’t a surprise: Fallout 4 was teased last week in a short trailer), with Bethesda’s Todd Howard taking the stage to reveal more details about the game. Here are some of them:

  • The character customisation is freshly unique in that players can change facial features on the fly , while looking at themselves in a bathroom mirror  – and you can play as a woman, which is a big step up from the normally male-dominated lead game roles. Hopefully more developers will follow Bethesda’s lead and give players the option to play as their preferred gender.
  • You’ll have a canine companion that you can issue commands to. Bethesda’s trailer show the video game dog staple, the German Shepard dog as your companion but tongue in cheek here, why can’t they have a dog like a Samoyed (like I have) for a chance? Although, I’m sure a Samoyed would lick an enemy first then flop on them, smothering them to death. That’s what my fluffy Samoyed would do.
  • There will be a Pip Boy Collector’s Edition which features a replica Pip Boy that you slot a smart phone into. There’s also a working Pip Boy app (iOS & Android) that is a working Pip Boy interface.
  • Fallout 4 is highly customisable where players can scavenge parts from the game world and use them to make new settlements, weapons and new structures. There’s also an iOS game Fallout Shelter that’s out now. It looks quite cute. I’ve already downloaded it and might play it tonight. No word on whether it’s coming for Android.

Fallout 4 is due out on November 10. Looks like November will be a busy month.

Quote of the show: “As far as stupid gimmicks go, this is the best fucking one I have seen.” Todd Howard, from Bethesda,  after revealing the Fallout 4 Pip Boy Collector’s Edition.

Xbox has it’s pre-show press event tomorrow morning (4.30am NZ time). If I get up, I’ll watch it. If I don’t, I’ll watch it later in the day.