Nintendo Switch Review - Nintendo Returns To Form, Switch Offers A Feeling Of Newness
Nintendo Switch is finally here. We've been waiting for it since it was called just "NX", and, although it has been released pretty quickly after its official announcement (back on October 20), the lack of news - with those insiders giving news ultimately revealing fake or not so fast to reveal reliable, after all - has made this period look much, much longer than it actually was.
The console's been in our hands for quite a good amount of time now, I've spent the last few days playing games and testing the OS, together with pouring all of my gaming efforts throughout the weekend and yesterday on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild -- which is definitely great both when it comes to watch it and play it, unlike any other modern open world game out there. Maybe we'll be discussing that in a not so distant future review.
Let's take a look at the hardware, first.
As you know, Nintendo Switch is made of a tablet and a dock. The tablet allows you to go handheld and play wherever you are. Zelda: Breath of the Wild is the most "expensive" title when it comes to the battery life, and I've been able to play it for at least 2 hours and a half, going up until 3 hours or so. Honestly, it's enough in my opinion - especially when you consider that Switch is much bigger than a 3DS and it's not so comfortable to have it in your hands for a longer time. It's surprisingly slim, but it's also a bit larger than you'd expect with Joy-Cons attached
Because of this consideration, it's better for you to consider the tablet itself a good handheld console but especially for interiors, which means that you'd not be getting the most in terms of comfort out in the park or in any other outside location. Brightness is also a factor here, as the LCD screen tends to be a bit glossy and you could find yourself in a situation where you need to find a better location when the weather is sunny outside.
The dock has a very little part in the process here. It's just the place where you put your Switch tablet into, and we're reported of cases where taking it out of the dock leaves some signs on the screen -- which is a bit frightening, to be honest. On top of that, it's very small and won't take much space for you to add into your living room: it has a nice grey/blackish color that makes the look and feel pretty elegant and nice to watch.
A nice touch is a little space on the back, where you can plug your HDMI and power cables with much comfort and less annoying wires going around the console. The console also has couple USB ports where you can connect your keyboard, whichever is the reason why you should be doing that, or an external ethernet port if you prefer wired connection to the Internet. That's something I'd understand instead since my Switch tablet constantly reports of weak wi-fi signal even though I'm in front of my router (an issue other users have reported and hopefully Nintendo will fix soon).
Joy-Cons are of course an interesting part of the process here. Those are the most gimmicky pieces of hardware you'll meet this year, and probably what truly helps Nintendo Switch define its difference in comparison with other platforms.
Thanks to the Joy-Cons, you can play Switch in tabletop mode, which is the position you can adopt in case you want to play with your friends on the go -- or you just want to show them how cool Nintendo Switch actually is. That's the only case where the controllers could feel a little too small because you'd be using each of them as a separate controller, but that's ultimately a matter of getting used to it.
A weak spot of the product is Joy-Cons can only get charged when connected to the Switch tablet and inserted into the dock. They don't have any USB port or whatever which you can use to charge them, and that's quite a strange thing, to be honest. Anyway, luckily enough, the battery life is pretty long and I've never felt the necessity to charge them outside of the Switch tablet's charging. A big kudos goes as well to the Grip, which allows you to play your games like if Joy-Cons were two equal pieces of a Pro Controller. Again, never felt the necessity to have a Pro Controller thanks to the Grip, and it's much smaller than it looks in the photo.
A: Operating System
The Switch OS is pretty quick and smart -- Nintendo again opted for a minimal design, which allows you to find everything you might be in need to find in a matter of few seconds. To be honest, there's not so much to find right now, which makes it even easier for the console's operative system to have a minimal look and feel. However, for example, the eShop already has some stuff in it and you never feel like you'd want an official redesign like you do in Xbox Games Store or PlayStation Store.
One interesting thing I noticed is how smart and quick is the process of taking pictures and sharing them via social networks. It's very very fast in comparison with Xbox One and probably a bit faster than the PS4 share button, and you can add texts of whichever color and position you want on top of them. It's not just a rip-off, it seems Nintendo put some mind and thought of this feature, and it ultimately results smart. I really look forward to them adding videos as well.
Closing this review, I won't provide many comments into games because games are games and hardware is hardware -- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is clearly defining what's on offer here with Nintendo Switch, and it's pretty good to have it doing so, because the game is brilliant and one of the cases where an open world doesn't waste the puzzle/dungeon crawling and narrative components because of the sandbox exploration.
In terms of graphics, because that's what you wanted to know, I'll quickly say Zelda doesn't look out of place here as a game releasing on 2017. Probably it's because it has a pretty distinctive visual style, but I also noted some shaders, blur and wide depth of field which offers good looking graphics both in the huge landscapes and into the smaller details. If other first party titles should be looking that good, you're not going to suffer any pains when it comes to the technical job.