Phantom Fury Review

I enjoyed the throwback of Ion Fury a few years ago, bringing classic FPS action built on a classic FPS game engine. The 2D sprites mixed with 3D worlds (or realms, if you will) got the Duke Nukem nostalgia flowing, and it was hard yet a lot of fun to play. Sequel Phantom Fury steps things up a gear, this time focusing its sights on the late 90’s/00’s and games like Timesplitters, Perfect Dark, and even a little Half-Life – and it does so to great effect, albeit with some unfortunate caveats.

Kick ass heroine Shelly ‘Bombshell’ Harrison returns as our protagonist, with the game set years after the events of Ion Fury. She’s been outfitted with a cybernetic arm and is awoken to shit going down, her General simply asking her to escape as an invading force is looking for her. To be honest, while the story is enjoyable enough – all futuristic thriller, end of the world stuff – it’s not the main attraction here at all – once the shooting started all of the periphery detail kind of just melted into the background. There’s plenty for those who want to get into the details in the form of computer logs and the like, but personally I found myself skipping over most of these to get back to the action.

There’s scope for some environmental play, from blowing up these vending machines to throwing back these explosive drones once we’ve shot them down

And what glorious action it is. Despite a move to Unreal Engine, Slipgate Ironworks have still managed to maintain that old-school look and feel to the gameplay. Harrison moves about like she’s on greased up ice skates with rockets on them, and the areas we fight in are all brilliantly designed to let us go hell for leather with very few obstacles. Even in the opening corridors and some later subterranean areas we still have enough room for manoeuvre, and when we get to some later, wider arenas the scope for chaos and fun increases greatly.

The arsenal we’re given to play with is almost entirely excellent too. One gripe I had in my original review of Ion Fury was that some of the better weapons were too easy to run out of ammo for –  something that hasn’t been an issue in Phantom Fury at all. In fact, I very rarely found myself out of ammo for something I didn’t want to use. This is helped by the fact that – outside of one or two basic options – every weapon is a hell of a lot of fun to use. We have bowling bombs that can home in on foes, a meaty shotgun, assault rifle, rocket launcher, and by the time we’ve completed the game we’re treated to some other, more incredible weaponry such as bile bomb launchers, a super powered magnum, and even a telepathic giants head that vaporises foes.

Some weapons are better suited to certain enemies, but to be honest almost everything can be used against everyone effectively  – and we find ourselves flicking between a large amount of the arsenal constantly. Weapons can also be upgraded at kiosks we find throughout, and let me tell you that when I could turn my bowling bombs into rolling flamethrowers, you best believe I took that chance straightaway.

The chunky Xbox-era visuals don’t mean the gruesome factor is toned down. If anything, it’s only heightened by it

What this means is that each and every encounter was an absolute riot to play. Enemies aren’t especially smart, but they are incredibly numerous and can pack a punch. Every time that battle music kicked in never failed to get me hyped up and ready for action. Some fights can drag on a bit, especially towards to end, but Phantom Fury is one of the few recent FPS games that made me feel like a true action hero rather than simply trying to survive. That’s not to say it’s easy, rather it handles the carnage with true excitement and seeing foes explode into chunks while others are running around on fire, and yet more are piling in for a kicking, well, let’s just say I was ready for them to bring it on.

I really liked the Xbox/PS2-era visual style, even more so than the style of Ion Fury. The use of low resolution textures with chunky models and brilliant lighting really helped accentuate the action on screen, and it all moves at a blistering pace. The move to Unreal simply seems to have let Slipgate fulfil their retro desires – more  of this please!

However, it’s not all good news sadly. In my 8 or so hours with the game I experienced way more progression halting bugs and crashes than I’ve seen in a game in a long time. I had no less than a dozen hard crashes, at least two instances of the game not unlocking a door after clearing an encounter, plenty of getting stuck in scenery, and multiple times where I missed an objective due to the objective list not updating, leaving me running aimlessly around the area until I had no choice but to restart from a recent save. And, though the game’s cloud save sync worked fine for my progression when I was switching between my Xbox Series S and X, it reset my controller preferences (such as invert Y and upping the sensitivity) every time, even doing so after some – but not all – of the hard crashes.

You know I had to get the flame option on my bombs

These issues put a large dampener on my time with Phantom Fury. When it works, it’s one of the most enjoyable FPS games I’ve played in a long time. But it broke for me so often that I considered giving up at one point, where an end of level helicopter failed to spawn in, leaving me running around the area trying to figure out what the fuck I was supposed to do before it randomly appeared after at least 30 minutes of retries. Of course, I could just be unlucky, but that it happened so often suggest to me that something needs fixing.


Phantom Fury is an incredibly fun throwback shooter, with awesome weaponry and brilliant encounters throughout that are undermined by a plethora of bug and issues that hampered my time with it far more often than it should have. In terms of my enjoyment in the moment, this has entered the top end of my games of the year so far, but those issues mean I can’t recommend it without heavy caveats.

This game was reviewed based on Xbox S|X review code, using an Xbox S|X console. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.

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  • Brilliantly fun combat
  • Over the top action
  • Lots of bugs and crashes
Written by
I've been gaming since Spy vs Spy on the Master System, growing up as a Sega kid before realising the joy of multi-platform gaming. These days I can mostly be found on smaller indie titles, the occasional big RPG and doing poorly at Rainbow Six: Siege. Gamertag: Enaksan

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