There are two methods to play a neo-retro shooter like Ion Fury. One: embrace its zippy motion such as you’re speedrunning a ’90s motion film, twitching and snapshotting your approach via corridors. Two: meticulously run your eyes and fingers alongside each pixelated floor till you have combed all the map for secrets and techniques.
2019 is tiny renaissance for brand new FPSes impressed by outdated FPSes. The place Amid Evil and Nightfall conjured the spirit of Quake and Heretic, Ion Fury is printed by the corporate that created Duke Nukem 3D, in a retrofitted model of the unique Construct Engine. It is the gaming equal of a band reuniting for a brand new album 20 years later.
Ion Fury does recreate lots of the issues that made Duke Nukem 3D nice. An motion hero’s arsenal. Tacky one-liners. Vibrant, expansive environments are dense with enemies and hard-to-spot secret passages. At one level I needed to stun an enemy with my electrified baton, crouch-jump onto their cranium, and leap to a ledge as a way to attain a hidden space.
However because it doubles down on the previous, Ion Fury retains a few of that period’s limitations, too: dead-simple boss habits, paper-thin storytelling, and a modest feeling of repetition towards the top of its 10-hour marketing campaign. Nonetheless, it is potent nostalgia for anybody with affection for or curiosity about ’90s FPSes.
VIDEO: A pattern of Ion Fury’s speedy fight move, capped off by a minor Easter Egg.
Regardless of its deep connection to Duke Nukem, Ion Fury’s tone is surprisingly completely different. Supercop heroine Shelly Hamilton (initially written as Duke’s sidekick in Duke Nukem Perpetually) is not the crass, over-the-top parody that her crew-cutted cousin is. She drops catchphrases, however they don’t seem to be crude. The enemies she shoots are equally severe, a military of cloaked troopers and some spooky man-machine hybrids which might be miles away from pig cops in a strip membership.
Ion Fury feels a bit of extra like RoboCop Doom—self-aware, however not really foolish—than it does Duke Nukem, then. And whereas I believe that the sport’s setting is definitely one in every of its finest elements, there have been occasions that I missed the outright stupidity of Duke, notably in Ion Fury’s comparatively vanilla weapon set.
You have shot most of those weapons earlier than. Usually 3D Realms’ strategy is to take the style staples that’ve sat alongside your keyboard’s quantity keys for years and plug in little variations on the alt hearth button. You may dual-wield the SMGs, which ignite enemies with incendiary ammo. You may spin the chaingun with out firing it, like Staff Fortress 2’s Heavy. You may load the shotgun with shells or pipe grenades, which does not a lot really feel like an thrilling alt-fire mode because it does a approach of merging two typical weapons.
The weapons are a bit of too acquainted. Given its mad scientist villain and near-future setting, I wished Ion Fury to place one thing ridiculous in my fingers. The closest the sport involves a bona fide BFG are explosive discs that erupt right into a fats cloud of cluster bombs. And there is the Bowling Bomb, a rolling grenade that homes-in on enemies while you cost it up—playful, however a bit of too fire-and-forget for my liking. It feels good to crack open a door and detonate a whole room with one in every of these throwables, however yow will discover weirder weapons in Duke Nukem fan mod Alien Armageddon, which presents rolling turret bots, an ice cannon, and an RPG that lobs miniature nukes. Is it fallacious to anticipate a retro shooter to ship one thing new?
Different gripes: I do not love how efficient the shotgun is at longer ranges as a result of it means I hardly ever put it down. Auto-aim kicks in sometimes and cannot be disabled, a specific annoyance on single-shot weapons just like the vitality crossbow.
The weapons individually underwhelm, however they work nicely sufficient as a staff. Like most nice ’90s FPSes, Ion Fury feels finest while you dash into hazard after which improvise your approach out of it, biking between 5 – 6 weapons as you crouch-dodge, circle-strafe, run out of ammo, and lunge for a well being package. Headshots are a welcome fashionable element, and the sensation of melting Ion Fury’s fundamental enemy with a single revolver flick would not get outdated. Runner-up: rebounding a pipe grenade off a door body to frag the cultist ready inside.
Ion Fury’s hand-placed enemies are sometimes ready to ambush you round corners, they usually put up an excellent combat. Cyborg skulls with spider legs cling on the ceiling prepared to leap on you for those who do not search for. Legless jetpack monstrosities fling traces of micro rockets at you, filling corridors with splash injury. My favorites have been the cell minibosses which emerge midway via the sport and eventually pressured me to backpedal. It is essential to select a problem stage that challenges you, as you may’t change this setting mid-campaign (though Ion Fury’s seven chapters may be launched individually).
However Ion Fury’s chapter bosses are much less dependable. They actually verify the nostalgia field with their easy scripting and exploitability. At their finest, you are leaping round an enormous room at full velocity as a way to beat them, emptying each gun you are carrying. At their worst, you are standing nonetheless and unloading eight uninterrupted grenades right into a cybernetic tank man who’s been outsmarted by stairs. 3D Realms’ reluctance to carry an excessive amount of of the current into Ion Fury hurts the sport right here.
In the event that they Construct it, we’ll come
Developer Voidpoint’s love of the style is tangible inside Ion Fury’s ranges. I really like the sport’s coloration palette, the coat of blue-grey textures and sprites that stick with you as you shoot your approach via slightly-futuristic cities and underground labs, partitions which might be coated with variously easy-to-spot references to Doom, Duke, Half-Life, and different video games of the period. The entire world appears like its been marinating in its personal juices since 1996, and virtually each nook feels hand-crafted. At one level I stumbled right into a Hogan’s Alley police coaching course blended with paper targets and enemies. Behind a bar, I threw Bowling Bombs down a literal bowling alley crawling with cyborg spiders. A few dank, muddy sections are the one exception.
True to its retro inspiration, Ion Fury depends virtually completely on coloured safety keycards to gate progress via these ranges. And even more true to these Nukem roots, the opposite approach that Ion Fury opens doorways is with explosions (these are so frequent that Shelly finally remarks in exasperation that each time she touches a button, one thing blows up). These paths are laid out elegantly. Each stage builds in an quantity of enjoyable backtracking, and refined signposting signifies that you’re feeling sensible while you make your approach via the maze.
It is value noting that Ion Fury’s Construct Engine spine would not current any technical points. The sport helps widescreen resolutions and an FOV vary of 70-120, and an fps cap of 240—Ion Fury is among the uncommon video games that you’re going to most likely be capable of hit that ceiling for those who’re operating a variable refresh show. Quicksave and quickload are proper there on F6 and F9, however you may restrict the variety of saves or disable checkpoints for a extra spartan expertise.
Even alongside different current, wonderful retro FPSes, Ion Fury reminds us of how a lot this era of PC gaming has to supply. It is absolutely the very best factor that is ever occurred within the Construct Engine, and though limitations of enemy and weapon design reveal themselves over time, the swift motion and modern maps make Ion Fury a worthy indulgence prior to now.