Editor’s Note: More than a year after the game’s original release on Xbox One (and other platforms), this review has been updated by Nazih Fares following the release of the game on the Nintendo Switch as well as the updates to all customers which reflects on the overall score, and final verdict.
Released in 2016 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC, DOOM defined itself as a tensed FPS, bringing back old-school mechanics such as life and armor bars, no reloads and devastating arsenal, but also integrating modern elements like customization of your equipment. The result is an ultra-violent shooting experience, in which players are tossed between Mars and Hell, going against hordes of demons, and you can read the full review below this segment.
To bring Doom on the Nintendo Switch is a challenge Bethesda has taken, thanks to an Panic Button, a studio known for supporting other AAA production companies with ports. If the content of the game remains substantially the same as on other platforms, there are however two critical points that I thought were important to check: the technical part of the game, as well as the gameplay control on the console. But before I start, I’ll should mention to all of you Nintendo Switch owner that this title will rely on you having an additional SD card for space, as the game is quite large (roughly 22GB), and will require additional downloads and patches even when purchased as a physical game.
Given the technical requirements needed to make DOOM as we know it on the Xbox One, which is a game lock to 60 fps, I really wondered how the developers would fit this on a console with the base architecture of a high powered tablet. After playing a bunch of the game, I’m just shocked that it works, even if certain levels and stages in the game take a harsh hit in framerate drops, but they are quite rare. Of course, Panic Button had to compromise on some front to make this work, notably reducing the framerate to 30FPS, which makes DOOM lose a bit of its fast-paced gameplay, and the motion blur is more pronounced to cover the little flaws here and there. I’m not going to lie, the game is looking good on the console, but I highly advise against playing docked on the TV, as it makes every defect stand out, reveals the crude textures and some visual effects take a harsh hit.
Nevertheless, with Doom, Bethesda in a introducing the Nintendo Switch to the world of first-person shooters. This is a big deal for Nintendo, because it will define on a long run if the machine is indeed reaching this kind of audience, but also if a shooter control scheme works on Joy-Cons given the demanding gameplay. After a few hours on the single player campaign, it is clear that the Nintendo Switch controllers is not quite at the level of ease of an Xbox One for shooters, but that doesn’t mean it interfere with you enjoying the game. The buttons responds well and quickly, and are even better if you use the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller.
Finally in terms of content, the game is pretty much the same as a DOOM GOTY Edtiion, including the complete single player campaign, the arcade mode, multiplayer online and all DLCs ever released. My surprise was actually the stability in the multiplayer part of the game, which is lag-free, as it looks like they are using one hell of a good netcode. The only thing that was removed though is the the SnapMap tool, which allows you to create levels, but i’m not really one to use this mode, and I do understand that it probably would never make it to the Nintendo Switch.
Powered by what seems a very versatile id Tech 6 engine, Panic Button gave us one hell of a port of the 2016 DOOM reboot, that is as enjoyable as its other platform counterparts, and will stand as a cornerstones for other publishers and developers to risk it on Nintendo’s newest machine.
DOOM – The Original Review published on May 22nd, 2016
So here we are with Doom, the reboot of the seminal FPS franchise. And we know it’s a reboot and not a sequel, because it doesn’t have a number on the end; it’s just ‘DOOM’. Clearly, id felt that they had gone in the wrong direction with Doom 3, or that the fanbase was really unhappy with it. Whichever it was, they went for a whole different feeling with DOOM. While Doom 3 was meant to give you the feeling of being trapped fighting an army of demons, Doom gives you the feeling that an army of demons are trapped with you. Everything DOOM does is calculated to make you feel like a rock-and-roll badass.
In terms of difficulty, Doom is not a challenging FPS. You get a gun right away and you’re turned loose. You receive your shotgun and assault rifle within the first hour, and while you’ll have to manage your ammo, you’ll feel plenty safe. You get new guns pretty regularly, and you manage to upgrade your weapons throughout the game. With the Difficulty set to ‘Ultra Violence’ (the game’s equivalent of ‘Hard’), I died a handful of times in my entire playthrough, and two of those were environmental deaths.
The game is pretty generous with health/ammo/armor pickups, and it has mechanics which give health and ammo from enemies instantly. ‘Glory Kills’ are melee finishers that you can deliver on staggered enemies, in which you eviscerate/mutilate/ventilate the hapless demons for an instant health reward. You’re invincible while doing them, so if you stagger three enemies, you can jump between them, ripping off bits of their bodies, and just replenishing your health. The iconic chainsaw makes it return as an insta-kill weapon that recharges ammo. Between the two of them, you can replenish quickly every time. And like I mentioned earlier, they seem to be geared towards making you feel like an absolute badass.
The level of detail in the finisher animations is really, really intricate. On top of that, I counted a dozen different finisher animations, complete with gratuitous amounts of gore. And the thing is, it can feel a bit much. I’m a grown man, so I don’t get as worked up over the bad-ass sensation as I did when I was 13. Eventually the finishers start to feel kinda mundane. I mean yeah, ripping a demon’s leg off and jamming it into his face seems intense the first time, but after you do it 20 times, it’s a lot less remarkable.
While it’s not a difficult shooter, it’s one that will keep you on your toes. In a way, id have managed a pretty respectable difficulty curve. You still need to watch your meters, and you’ll still need to rush between points in a level to tag all the different enemies and make sure they don’t overwhelm you. Most of your encounters with the demons are in sizeable spaces, and the demons will start spawning hither and thither, so you’ll need to keep your eyes open and your guns blazing. And the level design is really solid, so you get a sense of big deathmatches breaking out where you have to locate and kill all your enemies. One thing I really loved about the game was its sound design. I have a pretty meh sound system, but I could still hear these crisp, sharp demon growls all throughout the game. They did a great job of ratcheting up the tension and making me feel like I still wasn’t quite safe. The heavy metal soundtrack is pretty generic, but the game wins points for making everything sound so clear and present.
A shooter lives and dies by its gunplay, and Doom’s weapons feel satisfying as hell to use. The game really makes use of physics to make everything feel faster and more intense, and once you have all your weapons collected, there really is a variety to the murder. The last couple levels do manage to become more challenging because you face bigger hordes, but if you’re an FPS veteran I wouldn’t worry about getting through Doom.
Speaking of getting through Doom, the game is a marvel on the technical level. It’s got solid, next-gen graphics that aren’t too fancy, and it runs like a dream. 60fps gaming is like a rare unicorn for me these days, and I was happy to see that the game scarcely ever dropped below a smooth 60. It’s great news for PC gamers.
DOOM on consoles manages to run pretty smoothly. The two most noticeable elements is the fact that you can get a decent stable match on even a one bar internet connection (which is common with the bandwidth related mutilation consoles suffer through with the local Middle Eastern internet). In-game lag is usually nonexistent and match-making generally goes without a hiccup. I would say that speaks volumes for their server hosting abilities. It’s reminiscent of what Halo 3 what doing with the 360 days. The campaign itself is generally glitch-free. Nothing game breaking however you may get one or two random teleports into the interior of a monster, it ends there. There’s also a decent degree of freedom in the menu options surrounding the game aesthetic and the frame rate has increased from what we were seeing in the beta. The day one patch is huge so expect some waiting time before diving in (nothing to the degree of Fallout 4 though).
The multiplayer for Doom got a lot of flak after the beta. I kind of agree, even if I do think they were exaggerating (and so did Nazih in his preview). The multiplayer component of the game isn’t bad per se; it’s just bland. They insist on loadouts for each character as opposed to weapon pickups like in Unreal Tournament and Quake, and they introduce XP mechanics and upgradability. It’s pretty clearly an attempt to ape modern shooters, and in this regard Doom is really adding nothing. We already have enough modern multi shooters, so there’s no call for more. One kind of unique concept they have is the demon transformation rune: Essentially, you get the chance to transform into a demon for a short period of time and wreak havoc on your enemies. It’s a short-lived bit of awesome that spruces up an otherwise forgettable multiplayer experience. Additionally, DOOM just doesn’t seem to work as well in multiplayer; the fun of the game is in taking on waves of enemies and dodging their fire, and that doesn’t really translate well into multiplayer.
We turn now to the question that was on my mind when they first announced Doom at E3: Does DOOM recapture the magic of the original? Of course not, that’s impossible. I knew the answer then and I knew it now. Nobody can recapture the original Doom because you can’t single-handedly create the FPS genre twice. Does it stand out as a unique and memorable shooter? Also not 100%. Doom is a really solid shooter, but it doesn’t have anything to set it apart. There’s no memorable mission, and there’s not a defining feature for it. It’s a really solid FPS, it’s lots of fun, and it won’t disappoint fans of the genre, but it won’t reach the annals of FPS gaming either.
DOOM was reviewed using a PC and Xbox One, and later on a Nintendo Switch downloadable code of the game provided by Bethesda Softworks. This review was co-written by Febronia Armia for the Xbox One version and Nazih Fares for the Nintendo Switch version. The PC version was tested by Mazen Abdallah on a PC running Windows 7 Pro, with a 4GB NVIDIA Geforce GTX 970 fitted on a 4th Generation Intel i7 4790 3.6Ghz CPU and topped with 8GB of RAM. We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published.
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PC and Xbox One Versions:
• Smooth shooting action
• Brilliantly optimized PC performance
• Traditional FPS gameplay with no reloading or cover
• Big, well-designed levels
• Lots of weapon variety
• Stable on all consoles
Nintendo Switch Version:
• Almost the same exact game in visual fidelity
• All previous platform DLCs are available
• The same fluidity gameplay
• I still cannot believe this game is on the Nintendo Switch
PC and Xbox One Versions:
• Not really that challenging for FPS fans
• Gore and violence can become repetitive
• Bland multiplayer
Nintendo Switch Version:
• Relies heavily on motion blur to mask the flaws
• Crude to look at in TV mode
• Reduced to 30FPS which harms a bit the gameplay pace
Mazen enjoys anything with over-the-top violence, dark humor and a real challenge. He’s still pretty big on single-player games and he’s always looking for new titles he might’ve missed out on, so if you know about a crazy new title that’s flying under the radar, look him up!
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