Ion Fury (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Athanasios 05.06.2020

Review for Ion Fury on Nintendo Switch

The recent resurgence of 3D Realms, both as a publisher, and as a developer, has put a smile on the faces of a many a '90s FPS fan. As an example, this critic eagerly awaits for the completion of WRATH: Aeon of Ruin, which is bound to be quite the ride, even the flaws mentioned in a previous preview article won't eventually be addressed. Before that, however, came Ion Fury, or Ion Maiden, as it was called before a metal band, in a very non-metal moment, sued the publisher to oblivion. Unlike WRATH, which is basically a love letter to Quake (and actually powered by its engine), Ion Fury pays homage to the games that were crafted by the Build Engine, like Duke Nukem 3D and Blood. Sadly, while it hits all the right, nostalgic notes, strictly in gameplay terms, it's not as entertaining.

Blade Runner-esque Neo DC is invaded by Dr Heskel and his cyber-army, but worry not, as Shelly 'Bombshell' Harrison is there to fill each and every one of these bio-metallic morons with hot lead. Of course, if you came here for the plot, you are looking at the wrong game. This is a typical, "simplistic," all-guns-blazing kind of experience. Then again, it's good when you are given some kind of a goal to place in the back of your subconscious, as it helps with getting immerses into it all. In Doom you are walking towards hell to kick demon ass. In Duke Nukem 3D you are fighting off alien invaders, and saving sexy babes. In Ion Fury you never really "feel" the reason you are shooting your enemies for...

Screenshot for Ion Fury on Nintendo Switch

Furthermore, the main character, and the game world as a whole, sort of lacks character, which is quite disappointing since this is meant to be Duke Nukem's broth... err, sister from another mother. Sure, Shelly tends to throw her cliché one-liners, and the neon-lit streets are full of "funny" posters of imaginary products, but it all feels... generic and lifeless. Maybe the developer was afraid to go overboard with its comedic aspect, something that comes as no surprise due to the much different socio-political landscape of 2018 and beyond. For whatever reason, it's really a shame, because this generally "smells" very '90s, especially when it comes to what counts the most: the gameplay.

Shelly has a variety of great weapons to choose from, and all feel great to use, mainly due to the, almost tangible, sound effects. Most importantly, from her 18-round revolver that can tag-and-headshot enemies (the favourite of yours truly) or the shotgun that can blast enemies with one shot, to her dual machine pistols that put foes on fire or the minigun which is great for bringing down bigger baddies, each tool of the trade has its use here. Gunfights are fun... but then they are not. Unfortunately, this lacks some of the things that made the golden oldies, well, golden oldies, with the first being a lack of variety, something that greatly decreases the replay value.

Screenshot for Ion Fury on Nintendo Switch

Even compared to something as old as Doom, Ion Fury feels very barebones. There simply isn't much here to see here, especially in the first couple of levels where you'll be shooting at the same two-three enemies again and again, which, since they are basically variations of the same kind of foe, it all starts to feel quite dull after a while. It doesn't help that the levels are so needlessly big, and not that well-designed, as you'll frequently wander around aimlessly trying to figure out where you need to go next, with one reason being how the visuals don't work in unison with the gameplay. Frankly, everything looks pretty, but mistaking a door texture with an actual door will be a common mistake here.

Screenshot for Ion Fury on Nintendo Switch

Generally, the textures tend to blend together, making it hard to see actual health and ammo items, as it is easy to mistake them for garbage. Combine that with enemies that are placed far from you, and are hard to see until they hit you first, and you are bound to feel less inclined to keep on playing. On the other hand, this is definitely at its best when bullets are flying around - not when everything is dead, and you are forced to look around for keycards or secrets. If you enjoy all that, though, then you are in for a treat. There are many levels to explore, with tons of secrets. Too bad there's no co-op mode, however, which was one of the most entertaining aspects of the Switch port of Doom.

As for this port, it is of mixed quality. For starters, and due to the aforementioned issues with the visuals, this isn't really meant to be played in handheld mode, as it will be hard to make out certain elements, like some irritating, cat-sized enemies. Also, this is a 30, and sometimes even sub-30fps experience, which is strange as this isn't exactly a very demanding title. On a more positive side, it controls great - so much so, that even someone like yours truly, who sucks big time when it comes to playing first-person shooters with a gamepad, absolutely loved how this felt. In fact, this is great even when using the motion controls. Too bad the actual game isn't exactly a big recommendation.

Screenshot for Ion Fury on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 6 out of 10


Ion Fury blows the Build Engine's dust off, and manages to offer something that seems to hit all the right - nostalgic - notes, but it sort of misses the most crucial ones. Gunfights feel awesome, but the level design is anything but, leading to the many quitter moments being dull as hell. Plus, Voidpoint's creation lacks character, and plays its "comedic" card a bit too safe for something that's meant to be a return to the days of Duke Nukem's political incorrectness. As for the Switch port, while currently the only way to enjoy this on the go, this is definitely something that plays a lot better on the PC.


3D Realms Entertainment


1C Entertainment


First Person Shooter



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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