Title: Ion Fury
Available on: Microsoft Windows (Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows, and Xbox One at a later date)
Developer: Voidpoint, LLC
Publisher: 3D Realms, 1C Company
Genre: First-person shooter
Version Tested: Microsoft Windows
Official Site: www.ionfury.com
Release Date: Aug 15, 2019
Where to Buy: Steam
I first encountered Ion Fury back in January while I was attending PAX South. Publisher 3D Realms had a booth there, and I was instantly attracted to the throwback look of the game being displayed. It looked like something straight of the 1990s. And it invoked wonderful feelings of nostalgia. Of the days when I spent hours playing Duke Nukem 3D. I wasn’t the only one who felt this way. As throughout the weekend, the area around it remained frustratingly crowded. Despite all that, however, I did get to spend a short time with the game. And I enjoyed the small tasted I got of Ion Fury. Since then, I have been keeping an eye on the game and jumped at the chance to review it when given the opportunity. So what did I think of the final product? Let’s find out.
In case you have no idea what Ion Fury is because somehow you have missed the plethora of news coverage. Quit hiding under rocks. Then I’ll give a little explanation for your benefit. Ion Fury is a first-person shooter that uses the Legendary Build Engine. The very same engine that games like Shadow Warrior, Blood and the above mentioned Duke Nukem 3D was created on. In the case of Ion Fury, this is a much enhanced and more modern version of the Build Engine, but it is a direct relative of those classic games.
So if you’re looking for something on the cutting edge with the most modern graphics fidelity, you are not going to find it here. What you will find is the absolute purest distillation of this particular sub-genre of FPS. And despite what may seem like dated visuals, Ion Fury is a spectacular expression of 1990s nostalgia that anyone can play and appreciate.
So as you can probably imagine, if you are familiar with these types of games you will be right at home with Ion Fury. I didn’t need to learn or relearn much. I was just instantly back in the mayhem. Running through levels, strafing enemies, and finding secrets. If your FPS experience begins and ends with things like Halo and Call of Duty, however, you might have to spend some time adjusting to Ion Fury. It’s a fast FPS, with large labyrinthine levels, tons of enemies at every turn. Oh, and the game has keycards. Because of course, it does. No cover mechanics, no regenerating health, Ion Fury is not going to hold your hand.
Its a rewarding kind of challenging. The kind where you manage to stay alive after facing a seemingly endless wave of enemies and feel like a complete badass because of it. And speaking of badasses. The protagonist of Ion Fury, Shelly “Bombshell” Harrison, is freaking awesome. She’s your typical 90s action movie style lead character. Wise-cracking and a lot of fun. She manages to be entertaining in a way I remember Duke Nukem being before he lost relevance in Duke Nukem Forever. Speaking of which, as a bonus Jon St. John voices Ion Fury’s antagonist. If the name rings a bell he is, in fact, the man who voices Duke Nukem himself.
If I had any serious grips with Ion Fury they are the same kind I have seen expressed elsewhere. With all the awesome nostalgia the game brings you, it also reminds you of all the frustrating shortcomings of the past. The levels are amazing and well designed but require some backtracking that can get old. The various bosses have sometimes easily exploitable AI and don’t pose as much of a challenge as was intended. I have been spoiled by modern conveniences in my games, and sometimes figuring out where to go in a level to move forward wasn’t as obvious as I am used to. It can be argued that these are all part of the authentic experience. But it can also be argued that they are unnecessary flaws. Either way, they only slightly detract from what is one of my favorite FPS in recent memory.
Verdict: Ion Fury is a love letter to the 1990’s first-person shooter. With everything you love about games like Duke Nukem, Blood, and Shadow Warrior brought forward into a technically superior experience on modern PCs. With all of its nostalgia-inducing excellence, it does occasionally suffer from the same flaws that plague the games it emulates so well. Even so, if you are wanting to play a blinding-fast, visceral, white-knuckle FPS at high resolution and frame-rate, then Ion Fury is easily the best option currently available. And I readily recommend it to anyone.
- Entertaining fast-paced FPS combat
- Tight controls
- Great writing and dialog
- Occasionally frustrating backtracking and obtuse objectives
- Poor boss A.I.