Duke Nukem fans already know about the disastrous Duke Nukem sequel that we got. Y’know, Duke Nukem forever. If you don’t remember it, that’s probably for the better honestly. Ion Fury is a take at the franchise again, but not in the progressive manner that you’d normally see. Instead, we take a giant leap backwards to late 90s and early 2000s gaming. So..yay?
Players take control of Shelly Harrison aka Bombshell. Shelly was a character concept that was originally intended to be Duke Nukem’s sidekick. We never got to see that happen but we do get to see her in this game instead. Jump into Shelly’s boots and enjoy this roller coaster ride through the futuristic NEO D.C. Your objective? Stop the absolute mad lad Jadus Heskel from unleashing his cybernetic forces on the good people of the neon washed city.
Ok so 2019 has sort of been a comeback for a lot of retro gaming vibes. I’m not necessarily saying that’s a bad thing since everyone has their preference. It is, however, starting to get tiring. Sort of how Hollywood has resorted to just rebooting and remaking old titles like Ghostbusters and Charlie’s Angels.
Ion Fury isn’t any different. The graphics are reminiscent to the old Duke Nukem games and even the early pioneers of FPS. Y’know, enemies being 2D sprites and the like. Is this a bad thing? No. But from my personal perspective it’s pretty unimpressive. I mean, especially with the technology we have today. I’m not saying just go for making realistic people, but polygons are kinda last century now, no?
Everything about Ion Fury is a throwback to classic games. This includes the gameplay. You play from a first-person perspective, having to go through a level by level in a dungeon-crawling format. Ion Fury honestly feels like a game that some time traveler brought from 1995.
Your character naturally moves very fast in a manner that sort of feels like skating across the ground. Same ol’ retro movement. You can wield an arsenal of weapons players of the original Duke Nukem will find themselves familiar with. The levels have two major aspects, one being of clearing the enemies and the other being of discovering its secrets.
I don’t exaggerate when I say secrets either. Some of them are really well hidden and often actually require you to use an enemy as a platform. The movement and aiming of the game is a cross between the old Doom and the old Golden eye. You can aim vertically and horizontally while moving in erratic skating motions.
The enemies differ from time to time. Sometimes you’ll just face robed cultists, other times you’ll come across some cloaked cyberninjas. The boss fights were pretty fun little bullet hells to jump into. I’m not going to spoil any of them but holy shit, some of them really need you to point both your eyes in two different directions honestly. The gank fights in some of the boss arenas were frustrating though.
Since it’s a classic game, you won’t find any hand holding at all. There aren’t any tutorials, way points, objective markers or on-screen tips. To some people it can be frustrating while others may find it relieving. We all know how annoying some modern games can be with their guidance.
Ion Fury heavily rewards exploration of maps. Every level hides some kind of secret so make sure to look for destructible vents, secret passages, hidden doors and much much more. Sometimes you might just stumble into them due to the lack of given directions.
The weapons were pretty fun to use. Not just for the diversity in each weapon apart from each other, but also in how each weapon had multiple uses. A shotgun grenade launcher for example, or a multi-fire revolver for instance. Not a dull moment in Ion Fury’s weaponry.
This includes the cheesy voice acting and dialogue. Shelly’s deliberately action-star monotone is pretty fun to hear. She’s not as vulgar and loudmouthed as Duke himself which is good, sets her out as her own character more. The last thing fans want is to feel like their character was replaced by an inferior copy.
You find yourself fighting a colorful cybernetic army with ambient Bit music in the background. I’m pretty sure the shotgun soundbytes are also the same ones as the guns from the OG Doom games.
All of this was made possible due to Ion Fury being made on the Build engine. The Build engine is the same one that was used to create the original Duke Nukem 3D. This is why the game plays and feels like the classics.
Again, my major gripe with the game itself is laziness. It feeds off the nostalgia of people who played these games back then. This includes me, I was a huge fan of the Doom games.
I do like the game. It’s a nice little deviation from the copy pasted slog we get nowadays in the form of battle royales or microtransaction hells. Ion Fury is a nice and healthy retro single-player experience. However, it is kind of a copy pasted nostalgia banker.
Don’t get me wrong, as I said before, I do love classic games. I had my fun with Ion Fury as well, but I just don’t think it’s a great game. It’s a good one that leaves a nice taste in the mouth, that’s about it. A bit lacking again on how today’s technology could be utilized vs how it is being used here.
But this is just my opinion. If you’re someone that wants to dive into a time capsule and take a trip back to the retro-gaming era of the 90s, go for it. Ion Fury is definitely the game for you.