A few more reviews
Ouch, I’m less likely to get it now after reading that Rock Paper Shotgun review. I just hate being lost in games. It’s one aspect of old school shooters I hated back then and I still hate today. It’s what completely ruined Jedi Outcast for me.
To be fair, the reviewer was a useless dude who wasn’t even capable of going to control bindings to see what keys were available, and see there was an automap key there.
Yeah, I did laugh at that. And it’s true that automaps do make it easier to not get lost in old school shooters. Jedi Outcast did not have a map, which probably was one of the reasons I constantly got lost in it.
It’s a game where old-school decisions too often trump good ones. A blast from a past I never lived through, where puerile humour and “area complete” screens tease you about not being a “real player”. Ion’s tongue might be in its cheek, but I’ve got little interest in what it’s saying.
He’s not wrong, although I could quibble on some of the things he feels would be good game design decisions. Ion Fury and its ilk are furiously and purposefully old school, so stuff like backtracking, looping levels, and less-than-obvious player pathing is part of the attraction.
That RPS review was just lazy bollox written at a lazy blog level. The whole site is pretty much shit now that all of the founders are gone. I’m wondering how much longer Tim Stone is going to last there.
I don’t know if “lazy” is correct, but I do think his review is a pretty interesting look into someone’s gameplay values that did not grow up on the games Ion Fury is building on. I get it. If you missed that era, Duke3d, Blood, and even Doom are going to feel really clunky in spots, but you give them a pass because of their place in history. Ion Fury doesn’t have the same prestige, so that player is apt to regard those bits with annoyance.
I do think a number of recent “reviews” there have been extremely lazy and seemingly much more like a “first impressions” post than a proper review. If John Walker had written that it would be equally scathing if not more so but simultaneously would have given a much more kaleidoscopic view of the game as a whole. I agree the site quality has gone quite downhill over the past year or two.
That’s a crappy review. You don’t match reviewers who are pre-disposed to not liking something to a game like that. All it does is infuriate the audience who want to know about the game the developer made, not the game you the reviewer wish they put out. It’s garbage.
Disclaiming that with “I’m too young to know better” at the start should have been a clue to the editor that they effed up with the assignment.
I love Digital Foundry’s video on the game!
Also, I’m happy to see a former RPS writer come out and basically say that the site’s review is pretty poor.
I was sad to see Dominic Tarason didn’t get his contract renewed at RPS. Every time I skimmed down and saw an article about a game that interested me, he would be the writer.
Anyway, I grew up with these games and I hate backtracking, so we’ll see how it goes.
Yep, me too. I realised the only reason I ever visited RPS was to read one of his articles or reviews. I’d better check twitter and see where he’s gone now.  Apparently nowhere yet, I hope he finds work soon.
I really enjoyed Evan Lahti’s review over on PC Gamer:
Even alongside other recent, excellent retro FPSes, Ion Fury reminds us of how much this period of PC gaming has to offer. It’s surely the best thing that’s ever happened in the Build Engine, and although limitations of enemy and weapon design reveal themselves over time, the swift movement and sleek maps make Ion Fury a worthy indulgence in the past.
That explains why my RPS-RSS feed is so empty. I lazed out most of their writers ages ago.
Yes, it’s a shame but Tim Stone is really the only non-kid they have left, and it shows…starkly.
Generally agree, but hiring Nate Crowley is a good sign - his twitter stuff is great.
The Digital Foundry video is excellent. dark (John Linneman) was always one of the best posters on the original GAF. I’m glad to see him be successful.
He posted on Twitter that all the footage of Shadow Warrior, Duke, and Quake in the video is taken from a newly built Pentium III running DOS. That’s attention to detail. :)
It’s funny – I grew up during the maturation of the 3D shooters, yet I didn’t fall in love with any of them until Half Life, and then System Shock once I found it. Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Quake, Duke3d, Shadow Warrior – I find all of them to be messy, unfocused, lack suspension of disbelief, and are therefore mostly boring. They’re almost a direct translation of generic 2D side-scrollers to 3D in my mind. Put in a decent plot or some character development, as in Ultimate Underworld, System Shock, Half Life, Thief and so on, and you get a ‘real’ game. The appeal to nostalgia falls on deaf ears here.
My quick first impressions.
The best part of the game is the level design. It’s colorful, super detailed, both in the ‘macro’ and ‘micro’ sense, and it’s in the Goldilocks area of complexity. Complex enough to be interesting, not huge or complex enough to be a pain in the ass to traverse or explore, with just the right amount of secondary routes. And they are full of secrets. They are a joy to play.
That said… I’m not too hot on the combat by itself. First, the sound. I’m finding the two main weapons (revolver, shotgun) to be weak and without a noteworthy sound effect. It doesn’t sound as good feedback for the weapons they represent. In general all the sounds are a bit too old school, they sound a bit muddled.
Second, the combat itself. The AI sucks. And I don’t mean ‘they aren’t a crack elite squad that coordinates superb between them and flush me like an expert’, I mean in the sense of enemies mostly staying on the spawn position and shooting, or move very slowly. In a few occasions they were like trying to move against a corner so add also possible AI pathfinding issues.
You may argue “they don’t have to be SMART, they have to be fun to fight! Demons in Doom weren’t exactly smart” (insert smug emoji here). But in old school games like Doom combat is fun thanks to most enemies projectiles being avoidable and variety of enemies (enemies that spawn other enemies, that resurrect allies, that charge at you in a straight line, etc) that allows for a variety of combat encounters. Here most enemies are hitscan enemies, beyond a pair of ‘small annoying’ enemies, without any special ability or pattern of attack, and in fact a slower and more careful pace is promoted thanks to the hit location damage (aim for the heads).
Oh, one more flaw of the combat: there are not pain animations. Tsk tsk.
I think you’re correct. The best thing about this is the levels, both in aesthetic appeal and basic layout design. It’s very impressive. They really push Build in some crazy ways.
The weapons are surprisingly meh. You’ll pretty much use the pistol, shotgun, and bombs from level 1 throughout the rest of the game. The other weapons are okay, but ammo is very scarce and they’re just not all that memorable. That’s an odd thing in a game that pulls much of its design from games that had shrink rays, demon heads, rocket launchers, electro blasters, and other wacky guns. The enemies are also not that distinctive. They’re mostly humanoid hitscan baddies, with the exception of a super-annoying spider thing and a couple other guys including the bosses.
And that boss fight at the end suuuuuuuuuucks.