Dark Light

Ion Fury  (originally known as Ion Mai….on the other hand, we’ll leave it at that before a lawsuit) is an old-school FPS built on the iconic Build Engine, developed by Voidpoint, LLC, and published by the legendary 3D Realms. This title scheduled to be released on 14th May for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.

Last year we saw the release of Ion Fury on Windows. Almost a year later, this neo-retro cyberpunk shooter is on its way to PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. How does it fare against its PC counterpart? Even with mouse and keyboard controls, this shooter was tough as iron nails, so do the twin thumbstick controls hold up that well? Well, let’s dig into that, shall we?

Ion Fury

Story and Narrative:

Ion Fury is a prequel to Slipgate’s 2016 isometric action game Bombshell where you once again play as Cpl. Shelly ‘Bombshell’ Harrison, the “baddest bitch” this side of Neo DC. The scourge of augmented criminals citywide, Bombshell is the Domestic Task Force’s first and last line of defense. While drowning her sorrows in a watering hole after a terrible day, an explosion nearby turns her attention to the menacing  Dr. Jadus Heskel and his horde of cybernetically altered minions. There begins her quest to slay Dr. Heskel and bring momentary peace to the crime-ridden city of DC.

Ion Fury

To support the plot The game is filled with Shelly’s cheesy one-liners which I did not find that much funny or memorable. These monologues often referenced to old classics but they feel out of place. She’s not as badass as Duke (from Duke Nukem) or has the charm of Lo Wang (Shadow Warrior). Overall she’s not much fun when as the main character. Probably because this is not the 90s anymore and our perception changes with time. As the wise Reggie once said: “If it’s not fun why bother?”.  But, this being a boomer shooter, it’s better to look past her dilemmas and focus on gameplay, which is all that matters.

Gameplay and Mechanics:

In our PC review by Jay (for more details check out Ion Fury PC review), it was hailed as a no-nonsense retro FPS due to its tight controls, impressive level design, and the old-school gunplay that felt very satisfying with a pinch of modern flavors. It was lauded for pushing the Build Engine to its absolute limits, both visually and technically. Ken Silverman’s Build Engine that powered classics like Duke 3D, Shadow Warrior and Blood is almost 25 years old. This makes Ion Fury an authentic retro title which stands out in the long-queue of retro shooters available today.

Enough of this. Let’s talk about the most important part- the gunplay. It’s brutal, at times it feels unfair and there are several heavy difficulty spikes. The campaign features several difficulty modes namely, ‘First Blood’, ‘Wanton Carnage’, ‘Ultra Viscera’, and ‘Maximum Fury’. Add the thumbstick controls to that and you have a plethora of hurdles to overcome. Thankfully, the game settings feature a customizable auto-aim system. Without the aim-assist, it feels like playing ‘GoldenEye’ with a Nintendo 64 controller. No regrets.

As said in our PC review, the 7 episode campaign is lengthy and challenging, the levels are big and chock-full of secrets and easter eggs. On ‘Wanton Carnage’ it may take up to 9 hours to finish the game, which feels like ‘a walk in the park’ when compared to ‘Ultra Viscera’, which takes up to 16-18 hours to finish. In ‘Ultra Viscera’ there are more enemies to kill and the ammo is scarce. This forces you to scrounge for ammo in every corner across the map. While doing so you will come across several rewarding and well-hidden pathways, which remains a nice touch to the overall level design.

What differentiates Ion Fury from other contemporary shooters is its run and gun gameplay. There’s no regeneration or cover system, so to overcome the enemies you need to be moving at all times. The second you stand still, you are dead meat. Thanks to the quick save option which had my back in the higher difficulty levels. This was helpful in the open-ended arena levels which had me exposed to the enemies from all sides.

As I mentioned earlier, the scarcity of ammo is a major issue on higher difficulties. Thankfully, Shelly can carry a whole arsenal of weapons, ranging from the most efficient ‘loverboy pistol’ to ‘chaingun’ which is enough to send the bosses to hell. There are other weapons like the shock baton which is only useful for charging up generators and shotgun which also function as a grenade dispenser. Despite having so many options, the pistol was the only one that stuck out to me due to its auto-aim mode. It kinda reminded me of the ‘Dead Eye’ feature from ‘Red Dead 2’.

To add more fuel to the difficulty, there are quite a few enemy types in the game. There are normal soldiers, shotgunners, the ones with a crossbow, spiders (or minions), and poisonous caterpillars. Among them, minions were too annoying as they were too often to encounter and took a huge share of my bullets when I needed them the most. Besides these, there are bosses featured at the end of each episode. They provide a significant level of challenge and at times, they felt too overpowered, at least for me.

The console port has a fair share of difficulties due to the game’s vastness in the level design. For Build Engine, it is technically impressive but it introduces draw-distance issues. We have covered this in our PC review but for consoles, this is rather amplified at times. Even at shorter distances, enemies are not visible and can shoot you across the map with pinpoint accuracy. Besides this, the run ‘n’ gun mechanics do not work that well as compared to PC. It pushed my DS4 to its absolute limits, or rather I did. If I sum up all these points, at times, Ion Fury feels like ‘Wolfenstein II’ on ‘Death Incarnate’ difficulty without the abundance of ammo.

 Visuals, Sound, and Performance

The console port has received no noticeable downgrade when compared to PC. The level of detail crammed into the environment and interactivity is astounding for a Build Engine title. The 3D environment filled with 2D sprites has received a significant visual overhaul when compared to its predecessors despite using the same old engine. It also features a rather impressive lighting, the 2D sprites takes on the color of the light source thrown on them. There are minor hiccups when it comes to the draw distance on PS4, but these are all minor issues in the face of what the game gets right.

Music featured in the game is fitting for the cyber-noir theme. Sounds of blistering bullets and explosions during the gunfights are satisfying as hell, reminiscent of its predecessors in the ’90s. As mentioned in the PC review, the voice acting is minimal but John st. John (the voice of Duke Nukem) as the voice of Dr. Jadus Heskel is commendable.

Ion Fury’s performance on PS4 is decent enough and it manages to hold a steady 60 fps at 1080p, for the most part, thanks to its not-so-taxing visuals. However, there are minor fps drops in certain areas but they are not too significant.

Verdict

Ion Fury’s PS4 version manages to bring the same level of nuanced and buttery-smooth gunplay that it offered on PC. There have been no significant downgrades in performance or visuals. The DS4 controls feel a tad bit inferior to keyboard and mouse, but they do get the job done, thanks to the customizable aim-assist. It is an easy recommendation if you’re looking for a challenging and authentic retro shooter.

1 comment
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts