So you’ve done your searches for the Ion Fury video game, and each time you input the actual game title, you get some obscure early 90s FPS that surely can’t be a new game?
You can thank Iron Maiden for the name, for that was the original title of the Ion Fury video game, but alas, some people like exclusivity, so the name was changed.
Fear not, this is the PlayStation 4 review, so you’re in the right place if you like cool stuff as those screenshots you’ve found?
That’s Ion Fury, out today on consoles.
Another Ion Fury PS4 Review
Anyone familiar with the first-person shooter genre should know about Duke Nukem: if Duke Nukem Forever was your first experience, I’m sorry.
Back in the 90s, the 3D Realms video games catalogue had the likes of Shadow Warrior and Duke Nukem 3D; the benchmark at the time for the rest to follow.
We had Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Quake and so much more, but Duke was the go-to at the time, so when I heard that 3D Realms was bringing Ion Fury to both the PS4 and Nintendo Switch I nearly sha…
Ion Fury is a massive throwback to when games weren’t procedurally generated – here everything is handcrafted, the level design being structured around the minds of the development team, Voidpoint (link goes to their Twitter account).
You play Shelly “Bombshell” Harrison in the game; her job is to thwart the evil Dr Jadus Heskel and his army of cybernetic douchebags that are unleashed on Neo DC.
As it says in the promotional material: it’s time to start chucking bombs rather than defusing them.
Drop the Bomb(shell)
It will come as no surprise that there’s a bit of a link between Duke Nukem and Shelly.
Shelly was supposed to appear in the Duke Nukem franchise, but instead had her own top-down shooter in 2016 entitled Bombshell, but it didn’t to too well with the punters.
For all the shame that may have brought, it’s been swiftly dismissed as Shelly does a grand job in the Ion Fury video game, and while she doesn’t kick the King from his throne just yet, there’s a feeling that he’s only keeping the seat warm.
Like her male alter-ego, Shelly throws out quite a few one-liners throughout and rather than irritate with their cheese cliches, they’re bloody brilliant and ever so more satisfying as these grunts taste your boomstick.
Don’t overthink that last line.
The rules are simple: kill everything, destroy various objects and collect a series of colour-coded keycards to get to the next area.
One aspect for me that wasn’t as welcome for this older style of FPS was the backtracking of paces to retrieve a card, head back to a door to find another one, all while dodging the bullets of respawning enemies.
You become familiar with a map, then when you need it most, get a memory block and have to retrace your steps through an AC crawlspace, up a ladder, avoid a sniper on the other side of the screen then realise you went the wrong way again.
That’s perhaps the biggest negative criticism of the game, so glad that’s out of the way.
Up Your Arsenal
It would be a major disappointment if there weren’t a decent enough range of guns in Ion Fury, so pleased to say that the variety is there.
It’s not on par with some of gaming’s most ridiculous weapons such as Turok’s Chronoscepter, Quake’s Thunderbolt or the infamous BFG, but the choices available are truly satisfying.
The standard weapon, the three-barrelled revolver felt a bit of a letdown at first.
Shelly moves around the screen like a gazelle on heat, so every time you fire or reload the revolver, it’s as if you’re in a Max Payne slow-motion sequence (a nod to 3D Realms once more).
However, it has a secondary feature that plants a skull legend over an enemy and while your bullets aren’t heat-seeking, they fire in quick succession, transcending your opponent into a statistic, very much akin to McCree in Overwatch.
It’s immensely satisfying.
No FPS would be complete without a shotgun, and the one on hand is available in the opening stage and has an enviable range at that.
While there are other cool weapons with X-Ray features, my favourite was the incendiary SMG that would torch the baddies into a gloop of melted wax. Yum.
Handcrafted For Your Pleasure
Despite the back and forth key collecting or trying to find those elusive secret areas, the areas never feel monotonous.
There are around seven zones to explore, and they play out like the classic level designs of the 90s – a uniform feel to the zone, but each level has a labyrinth of paths that aren’t merely a cut and paste or rehash of another asset.
I was picking up flavours of Dark Forces, Red Faction and a little bit of oak and forest dew.
That was another aspect that was so refreshing about Ion Fury was that to me.
Ion Fury is an untouched gem of 90s carnage without the spectacle of over-the-top set pieces, intelligent camera filters or narratives with a twist. You get what you see.
The game doesn’t feel retro-inspired, more so that the teams involved picked out all the elements that made those games work so well.
In summary, Ion Fury feels like an unreleased game, like when one of your beloved rock stars tops themselves, and 15 years later they find an unpublished track or two that is hauntingly familiar to the material you loved in the past.
And baton bashing, lighting and electrocuting wrong ‘uns is precisely what’s on offer.
Ion Fury Controversy
Ion Fury is more an authentic sequel to Duke Nukem 3D.
Switching out classic Duke for a character that bombed (haha!) in their first outing is the real scoop here, but fans of the original will be pleased to hear that the King, Jon St. John, makes a return as the voice of your nemesis.
And he’s all out of gum.
I could say Ion Fury has motivated me to dig out some older games to play for nostalgia’s sake
Still, there’s no point connecting up various AV cables, tuning in the channel to play on a controller with a 3cm lead when I can just play the same type of game with my DualShock, more or less instantaneously.
The same applies for Ion Fury Switch – I ended up getting this with my own pocket money as I anticipate once the gates are reopened from this endless lockdown, Ion Fury will be a commuting game.
Rather than do a separate Ion Fury Switch review, I’ll very confidently tell you that it’s just as great as the PS4.
Due to the level construction, sprite-based characters and aesthetics, there’s no slowdown or any sort of frame-drops that I experienced, and it’s as blisteringly fast on the Switch as it is on the PlayStation 4 as well.
So, if you fancy something a little different to your usual FPS multiplayer that’s challenging, lightning-quick with a fistful of boomstick, Ion Fury’s your best bet.
Duke Nukem wasn’t readily available for interview, but his agent sent on his regards as well as the review code for this PS4 title. The Switch version was funded from my in-house sweatshop, where I am currently the only employee without a production line.