If Duke Nukem 3D starred a woman and the developers held back the release date for 24 years, you would have something that resembles Ion Fury. This retro-inspired shooter that just launched for PS4, XB1 and Switch was built using the same hardware as Duke Nukem 3D from 1996 with a few modern additions like headshots, 60 frames per second and widescreen support. While Duke’s meathead personality might be best left in the past, we can always make room for pixelated graphics and a heavy dose of nostalgia.
Ion Fury launched on PC late last year where it was met with favourable reviews. It currently sits on a healthy 79% Metacritic average which is impressive when you consider the game will unlikely appeal to generation Z. Fun fact: the game was originally titled Ion Maiden. Get it? But the aging metal band were not too happy, so the game got renamed Ion Fury.
In Ion Fury, players take on the role of Shelly ‘Bombshell’ Harrison, a wise-cracking Global Defence Force bomb specialist who’s just as familiar with one-liners as she is duel-wielding submachine guns. The game begins with Shelly spilling her drink as a cyber-cultist army led by the deranged Doctor Jadus Heskel begins unleashing violence on Neo D.C.
What Ion Fury lacks in the way of cinematics and tight gunplay, it makes up for with non-stop action, fun weaponry, diverse enemies and large levels worthy of exploration. There’s no aiming down sights in this 90’s throwback. Hip fire is the only way to take down the two-dimensional enemies which could feel uncomfortable to those familiar with modern shooters. Thankfully auto-aim is switched on by default.
Speaking of weapons, there’s an excellent range of available options for delivering pixelated justice. Starting with an electrified nightstick and a triple barrelled revolver, you quickly gain all sorts or shotguns, grenade launchers, SMGs, chain guns, a crossbow and hand grenades called bowling bombs. Surprisingly, the electrified nightstick is quite useful, as it can stun enemies and is ideal for bypassing what’s occasionally a frustrating aiming system.
Exploration-wise, each of the 28 levels is brimming with secrets and Easter eggs to uncover. There are also hidden levels to find and progression is once again tailored towards those pesky coloured key cards even though the system never really made sense.
Ion Fury is quite tough, even on the medium difficulty option. And with no regenerative health bar, exploration and seeking out even the smallest health and armour pickups is a must. Thankfully, the detailed secret-filled levels are never boring, and it won’t take long ‘til you’re clicking on every window, wall and door hoping for a secret heath and weapon pickup.
You’re looking at around ten hours of playtime ‘til you see the credits roll, longer if you want to uncover all the secrets and hidden levels. It’s a shame developer Voidpoint didn’t include a multiplayer mode, although it’s said that one is in the works to be added down the track. Not that every shooter should have multiplayer, but it’s always nice to have reasons to continue playing a game that you adore.
Anyone who grew up playing shooters like Doom, Quake and Duke Nukem 3D should find Ion Fury a blast. Anyone who had Call of Duty setting the standard for shooters should skip straight to the comments and complain about how graphics are what makes a quality game.
Ion Fury is now available on your platform of choice.
The writer received a copy of the game courtesy of the publisher