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[Not Massive] Preview: Ion Maiden Plugs Old School Into New School

Ion Storm is the perfect level of ridiculous to be almost believable. Imagine for a moment that in 2018 I’m trying to tell you that 3D Realms is not only releasing a new game, but it is a first person shooter on the Build Engine starring a character who is essentially Duke Nukem’s lady alternate.

In a world where crispy M&M’s, French Toast Crunch, and Jumanji are all making a comeback, it only stands to reason that a shooter actually built out of a twenty year old engine would be eaten up like, well, crispy M&M’s. Ion Maiden is currently in early access on Steam with an anticipated release date of later this year, and people are loving it. It currently holds a 97% approval rating and clocks in at a hard drive busting thirty two megabytes.

Without a doubt, Ion Maiden is the Duke Nukem game we all wished had released instead of the depressing episode that was Duke Nukem Forever, and likely evidence that 3D Realms might still have the Duke rights if George Broussard hadn’t catapulted his company into the sun in the pursuit of fancier game engines. Everything you’d want from a Duke Nukem iteration is in Ion Maiden from the fast paced gun action to the cheesy one liners, pop culture references, and maze-like maps with tons of hidden areas.

The Build Engine has been modified and upgraded throughout the years to include a 3D renderer and be capable of showing off really good looking sprites. Those of you who don’t wax poetic about the virtues of 90’s shooters might not find the aesthetics as appealing, considering anything and everything in the world is a two dimensional sprite that moves its orientation to face you no matter how quickly you circle around it. Still, 3D Realms has created nothing short of magic with this engine since it debuted in 1997, and while it may not impress anyone with its graphical fidelity, it is by no means simple.

It’s especially impressive when you consider that the Build Engine isn’t technically 3D, it just tricks you into thinking it is.

Right now there is only a sample campaign available that should take you about an hour to finish and a hell of a lot more time if you decide to try and track down every one of the campaign’s dozens of secret areas. There are only a handful of enemies and the preview is rather short, so I can’t fault anyone for simply waiting until the full game comes out later this year especially since it’ll still be a cheap $20.

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