Review – Ion Fury

Hey there kids! It’s time for a little gaming history lesson with Uncle Leo. Back in 1996, a small company called 3D Realms released a little shooter called Duke Nukem 3D. It was met with positive reviews due to its impressive graphical engine, level design, and its “sense of humor”, which was basically a guy spitting out famous movie one-liners over and over again. After Duke Nukem 3D‘s unexpected commercial success, 3D Realms started working on a much anticipated sequel called Duke Nukem Forever. A game that would only be released in 2011, after countless broken promises, trailers, cancellations, and development team changes, only to be met with dismal reviews and sales.

Even though Duke did get a few good spin-offs during the years, especially the underrated N64 exclusive Zero Hour, we never ended up getting a proper sequel to Duke Nukem 3D, a game that would actually live up to its predecessor’s legacy. Now that 3D Realms’ Ion Fury is out, we can finally say they have managed to fulfill their twenty-three` year old promise.


A shocking situation.

Ion Fury is a game developed in the same engine as Duke Nukem 3D. It looks like Duke Nukem 3D. It plays like Duke Nukem 3D. In short, it’s basically Duke Nukem 3D-2, but without the titular hero to annoy us with his one-liners this time around. Our protagonist is called Shelly “Bombshell” Harrison, who for all intents and purposes, is basically just a Duke Nukem with XX chromosomes. She’s as overconfident, rude, and as talkative as Duke is. Everything in Ion Fury is exactly like Duke Nukem 3D, but to be fair, that’s why the game is so fun. It doesn’t try to innovate, it just tries to be an entertaining retro throwback.

From the graphics to the simple gameplay, it’s easy to fall for Ion Fury. It doesn’t try to annoy you with a detailed story or any semblance of a plot. Once the game begins, you’re in control of your character, and your job is to reach the end of the level, shooting everything that dares to come in contact with your line of sight. It’s really fast-paced and challenging, since there aren’t many health packs scattered around. The levels are immense and full of secret rooms to find. I finished the first level thinking I had scoured everything and looked through every nook and cranny. I found two secrets out of more than a dozen. These secrets are ridiculously well-hidden, being a great excuse for you to go back and replay a previous level.

Ion Fury

“Play Free Bird!”

Despite being little more than just a retro game running on a bigger resolution, it doesn’t mean that Ion Fury doesn’t have its fair share of flaws. Its greatest asset is also its biggest problem. The Build engine, the one that powered games like Duke Nukem 3D, Shadow Warrior, and Dark Forces, was never known for being visually pristine, and you can see those issues in Ion Fury. The game features a lot of screen tearing, to the point that it feels like the screen is being chopped in half by a thin, sharp wire. This visual hindrance might provide a weird retro feel, but it’s not great to play a game with such vivid colors on a big screen and notice that there are basically two asymmetrical halves of a screen in front of you. The voice acting is also a bit annoying, but then again, so was the voice acting in Duke Nukem 3D. You know what you’re getting in a game like this. It’s not a piece of intellectual humor.

All issues aside, Ion Fury is a well-designed retro shooter, a simple, fast-paced, and challenging experience. It doesn’t promise a lot: all it wants to be is a love letter to first-person shooters from the main 90’s and it succeeds at doing so. This is not a game made for the Call of Duty or Battlefield audience. This is a game made for those who just want to mow down more pixelated baddies than one can even count, all while listening to some immature, but occasional charming one-liners.

Ion Fury

“It’s hiiiiiiiigh noon…”

It may have taken them twenty-three years, but 3D Realms has finally managed to deliver a worthy successor to Duke Nukem 3D with Ion Fury. They just had to ignore any technological improvements in the gaming industry in order to succeed. And Duke himself, by the way.


Graphics: 6.5

The game runs on the same engine as Duke Nukem 3D. Visually, it does look exactly like a shooter from that era, and while that is quite appealing, it features an insane amount of screen tearing.

Gameplay: 9.0

Easy to pick up and play, as well as very fast-paced. It’s an old school shooter that runs perfectly, with zero framerate issues.

Sound: 6.0

Not very impressive. The soundtrack is forgettable, but it gets the job done. The voice acting is as insufferable as a game based on Duke Nukem would feature.

Fun Factor: 9.0

Visual glitches and annoying voice acting aside, Ion Fury plays and feels like a classic shooter from the nineties. It’s fast-paced, full of secrets to unveil, gory, hard as nails, and above anything else, it’s fun.

Final Verdict: 8.0

Ion Fury is available now on PC.

Reviewed on PC.

A copy of PC was provided by the publisher.