[Review] Ion Fury – Nintendo Switch

Written by Brett Hill
  • Developer: Voidpoint
  • Publisher: 1C Entertainment
  • Price: $24.99 / £19.99
  • Release Date: 14/05/2020
  • Review code provided by 1C Entertainment

Introducing: Ion Fury Switch Review

When 3D Realms flashed up on the screen at the start of Ion Fury, there was a sense of nostalgia that suddenly came flooding back. 3D Realms was a studio that became a powerhouse in the ’90s developing, producing and publishing some of the biggest franchises the gaming industry. Its titles span Duke Nukem, Death Rally, and Terminal velocity, and then later on the studio produced the critically acclaimed Max Payne series.

Ion Fury instantly looked recognizable. The first person shooter was created using the Build game engine, specifically the latest version of the Duke Nukem 3D source code named EDuke32. Build was a sophisticated games engine in the ’90s, using a two-dimensional grid and 2D shapes called sectors then combining it with geometry and flat images commonly known as sprites to create that distinct 3D world made popular by the likes of Duke Nukem 3D and Shadow Warrior. Yes, it may look dated but the visuals defined an era in gaming and Ion Fury gracefully embraces it and reminds us of a far simpler time, when all we knew how to do was kick ass and chew bubble gum.

And I’m All Out Of Gum

Ion Fury originally released on PC last year, and this is a great port that runs extremely smoothly on the Switch in both docked and handheld modes. Fans of Duke Nukem and older gamers will know what to expect when it comes to a 3D Realms title; from the crass humour, to the hectic run and gun gameplay to the endless amount of secrets crammed into each level. I do feel, though, that it may not connect with the younger crowd or players used to modern first person shooters. But, definitely give this game a go even if it’s just to get an insight into gaming from yesteryear.

Throw that rule book away and forget what you have learnt over the years when it comes to FPS games. Yes, the controls in Ion Fury are rough around the edges and somewhat chaotic but that’s what makes this game so fun. Once you have mastered running around, aiming and shooting you will be making head shots in no time. There are four difficulty settings which range from easy to ridiculously hard. If you are new to this type of game or you want a relaxed approach and to have fun, I would fully recommend choosing the easiest option as it can get pretty brutal and unforgiving in places.

Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage

When it comes to storytelling you will not find a thought provoking plot here. All you need to know is that the protagonist Shelley “Bombshell” Harrison is here to kick ass and take down Dr. Jadus Heskel’s army of cyborgs. Set in a sleazy dystopian future filled with neon lights, adult stores offering 69% off and toilet stores showcasing a top of the range gold plated shrine in the window. This is the level of humor we are dealing with and to be honest it is right up my dark, dank, dingy street. The dialogue is also filled with one liners and comedic slurs. The writers also have an unhealthy obsession with ’90s rock music, dropping in lyrics from Offspring and Smashing Pumpkin songs.

The soundtrack is exactly what you would expect from a game that has its roots well and truly grounded in an era full of illegal raves and the uprising of trance music. Filled with dark synth sounds and a hook that will entice you in and gets you ready for the drop that never happens. It suits the game perfectly.

As I said earlier, this game will not win awards for storytelling but what Ion Fury lacks in narrative, it gains in pure fun. It is one hell of a ride. The arsenal of weapons is endless from taser batons to grenade launchers and every firearm you can think of in between. Enemies instantly become cannon fodder, from foot soldiers to giant mech-robots, there are plenty of targets to aim at. It’s also not a true ’90s game unless it contains an excessive amounts of blood and guts which Ion Fury definitely delivers.

My only gripe with the game is the auto-save feature. It can leave you in some sticky situations causing it to be unnecessarily difficult to progress in parts. An example was when it saved whilst I was nearly dying and the next room was full of enemies. It took me an age and lots of patience to get through it.

Conclusion

After a lengthy delay and a potential law suit from a well known rock band causing the team over at Void Point to change the original name, the release has definitely been a controversial one. But, Ion Fury has finally blasted its way onto the Switch. With over 28 levels spread across seven zones, it is crammed full of content keeping any FPS fans happy whilst they run, shoot and scramble through the carnage. The twenty-year-old gaming engine Build has found a new lease of life and showcases the golden era of 3D gaming.

Ion Fury perfectly blends the archaic retro feel with modern gaming mechanics creating a solid, all-round experience. Take in and explore the underbelly of Neo DC, a neon, dystopian cesspit by locating hundreds of secrets and finding all the Easter eggs dotted around the map, or just run through guns blazing. Regardless of how you play Ion Fury, the main objective is to just have fun.

Pros

  • A solid first person shooter
  • Full of retro goodness
  • Crammed full of content
  • Soundtrack is killer

Cons

  • Can take a while to get used to the controls
  • Lack of online functionality
  • Auto save can leave you in sticky situations

Verdict
Ion Fury is an epic throwback to a time when gaming was fun and took itself less seriously. Ion Fury has proven by using twenty year old technology that the aim of the game is to have fun.
4/5

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