Title: Ion Fury
Developer: Voidpoint LLC
Publisher: 3D Realms, 1C Entertainment
Genre: First-person Shooter
Available On: PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Official Site: ionfury.com
Release Date: May 14th, 2020 (Digital), June 26th (Physical)
Where To Buy: Steam, Nintendo E-Shop, PlayStation Store, Microsoft Store
It may not seem like it, but first-person shooters have evolved quite a bit in the last two decades. Customization of weapons & characters as well as a variety of modes makes the $60 price tag worth it. But for those who yearn for the simplicity of the beginning of the genre, Voidpoint and 3D Realms have heard your prayers. And they have answered those prayers with Ion Fury.
The Story of Ion Fury
Ion Fury follows Shelly “Bombshell” Harrison, the leader of a domestic task force charged with cleaning up crime in a cyberpunk D.C. It picks up on Shelly after a night drinking in which the bar was blown to kingdom come. Seeking vengeance for her ruined night out, she heads out to wreak havoc on the cracked-out cyborg punks responsible. The end goal is to put an end to Dr. Jadus Heskel, the scientist responsible for all their cybernetic enhancements.
The plot is not important to Ion Fury. None of this information is given to the player in-game. A tab titled “Read Me!” in the pause menu gives you the story so far, as well as a few tips. Reading these tips will be highly useful as the game doesn’t offer a tutorial either. These are not necessarily negatives though. Ion Fury relishes the days of old FPS titles like Duke Nukem 3D. It was built in the Build engine, which was also used for Duke Nukem 3D and the original Shadow Warrior.
The light plot isn’t the only aspect of older FPS games that Ion Fury implements. Much like Duke Nukem, Shelly is full of wisecrack remarks and cool catchphrases. When picking up a machine gun for the first time, she quips, “I spray, you pray” with all the 90s bravado you’d expect. When Heskel tells her to “go home, little girl” via a TV screen, Shelly responds with, “What are you gonna do, send me to my room?” Though she’s not a very deep character, it’s hard to deny her charm.
The Gameplay and Gunplay
Because Ion Fury was built with the same engine as Duke Nukem 3D, it looks and controls extremely similarly. The gameplay is fast-paced and frantic in the best way. Much like Doom, if you stop moving, you’ll die. There are plenty of open areas swarming with a variety of bad guys that will keep players on their toes. The options menu also provides several changes that can be made to the gameplay, such as the option to have Shelly always be running or the inclusion of motion controls. There are other quality-of-life changes made to the classic formula such as checkpoints, a widescreen format, and improved physics.
Shelly begins with a revolver, or Loverboy as she calls it, which is a great gun to start with for one particular reason. The right trigger shoots, as it always does in first-person shooters. But holding the left trigger will place a skull above an enemy and letting go will cause Shelly to shoot as many bullets as it takes to put them down. This is extremely useful, especially with some of the game’s smaller enemies, which can be a bit difficult to hit with other weapons.
This kill shot is only for the revolver. And while one might think that the left trigger would be used to aim down the sights of other guns, that’s not the case. However, Loverboy isn’t the only gun with an alt-fire. The bigger, more powerful guns are better to use against normal-sized enemies when getting overwhelmed. New weapons are found rather frequently. And each time brings the joyous possibility of what kind of carnage you can bring to your enemies.
Stuck In The Past
Although Ion Fury makes several quality-of-life improvements, there are still some missing elements from modern FPS titles that would improve its accessibility. For example, there is no map and no indicator for where enemies are shooting at you from. You may get shot several times or just hear enemies running around before you find them.
Even some of its improvements bring problems. Once you reach a checkpoint, it saves your current life and armor total. At one point, I got stuck at 8 health and 7 armor and was slaughtered several times in a row upon walking out into the next area. You can always backtrack to look for more health and armor but those resources are scarce. Shooting bits of the environment, such as trashcans or bags of garbage, may give you a few pieces of each though it’s not exactly fun to do.
Speaking of armor, it isn’t as useful as you’d think. Shelly’s health still takes damage even if you have a ridiculous amount of armor on, although it does slow damage down a bit. Resources you can find are a bit unbalanced. In general, I found ammo much more frequently than I did health. There’s also no way to change the difficulty once you’ve begun.
Verdict: Ion Fury has all the bombastic 90s action and humor one would expect from a clone of Duke Nukem 3D. Its fast-paced gameplay makes for a fun, frantic experience. Despite that, there are several aspects of modern FPS games that it should have included to make it a more polished and enjoyable game.
Ion Fury Review
- Wisecracking protagonist
- Fast-paced gameplay
- The updated build engine
- Missing some accessibility features
- Armor isn't as helpful as it should be