With the start of QuakeCon, Bethesda quietly released official ports of Doom, Doom 2, and Doom 3 onto the Nintendo Switch, much to the surprise of fans everywhere. The port was done by Panic Button, which is great news right off the bat, as they have been responsible for such well-made ports onto the Switch like Rocket League and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. Although there are a few graphical issues on launch, the low price of this otherwise stellar port makes this well worth picking up today.
Most consumers of video games are likely familiar with the Doom series of games, though it is worth mentioning the Doom 3 is a bit of an outlier among all the other games. Although the themes, monsters, and weapons are heavily inspired from both previous and subsequent Doom games, the initial release of Doom 3 in 2004 was met with mixed responses from fans.
At the heart of the critique was the slowdown in gameplay and thematic shift from a run-and-gun style of combat, to a dark, horror-filled atmosphere. When the game launched, there was no way to have both a flashlight and weapon equipped at the same time. So, one had to choose between being able to see as they navigated near pitch-black hallways or having a weapon and stumbling around blind. Most of the time, this translated to moving slowly with a light, being surprised by a demon, and then switching to a weapon and estimating the location of the opponent, praying that they had not moved in the meanwhile.
Still, the game has only grown more popular over the years in the eyes of most players once the difference in playstyle is accounted for. Most important of all is that this port includes the infamous duct tape mod, meaning that players on the Switch will have both a light and a weapon equipped at the same time.
The port of Doom 3 succeeds in almost every way, save for a select few. First, the controls feel well done, and one never stumbles with movement or aiming in general. For older players, the nostalgia of the game, along with the hardware demands on release in 2004, make this release onto the Switch feel almost surreal. In many ways, this in itself is reason enough to purchase the game. Once we start playing though, the game is hard to put down.
Currently, there are only a few issues to speak of, and they are both minor and possibly something that could be patched at a later date, so we will not be too hard on the port for their existence.
First, while the port offers near native-like resolution in either docked or handheld mode, there were noticeable incidents of aliasing and framerate issues. For the unfamiliar, aliasing of images or in a game refers to jagged edges that one often finds in lower-resolution displays, and options for anti-aliasing in games attempt to resolve those issues.
In Doom 3, the incidents of aliasing were few, and they tended to occur in the busiest of situations when upwards of five or six enemies were present, and the camera shifted views quickly. Basically, if a number of enemies were released at once, and the camera spun to make a quick escape, the issues of aliasing and framerate would feel noticeable, but only briefly. With that in mind, it was not apparent during every large fight that occurred, and the incident may simply be reserved to certain levels.
Another relatively minor complaint is that there is a distinct lack of options when compared to the PC version, which is a bit of a shame when considering everything that was available there. On the upside, the Field of Vision option has been retained and can be increased considerably. This writer has never done well with games that offer too narrow a field of view and too much motion blur, often feeling sick after playing too much of Doom 3 on PC, or games with similar perspectives, such as Alien: Isolation.
With that in mind, the expanded Field of View, perhaps in conjunction with playing in handheld mode, did not cause any such motion sickness, and this reviewer was happy to spend long sessions running through the Mars station without feeling ill.
When the game launched, there was a broad range of memes floating around due to Bethesda’s decision to incorporate mandatory account sign in before being allowed to play the game. Since the release of the game and numerous questions were made online by dissatisfied consumers, Bethesda has changed the sign in to be optional. They stated that it was meant to be optional all along as a way to reward those players in the Slayer Club. Many instead interpreted the move as an unnecessary piece of DRM added to games from as early as 1993 with Doom, which may have been the case as hacking of Switch consoles is problematic for developers and their bottom lines.
The price point is worth mentioning again, because often we see a port of an older game that, while popular, feels odd when priced high, especially for fans who are buying the same game for the second or third time. Recently, or rather, repeatedly we see games from the Resident Evil series ported over, often with more glaring issues of performance and high price points.
The Switch release for Doom 3 also includes both the Resurrection of Evil and The Lost Missions expansions, which makes the already-low price seem like an even better value than it already is. At around $10 depending on your region of the game and its built-in expansions, Doom 3 is an absolute must-have for fans, and if you have not yet played the game, the Switch is a fine way to experience it for the first time.
As an impressive port, this game exceeds expectations, but it is not without its minor flaws.
4.5 Out Of 5 Stars
A copy of Doom 3 was purchased by TheGamer for this review. The port is available on the Nintendo Switch eshop along with Doom and Doom 2.