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The Surge 2

Posted by GG Goblin On October - 1 - 2019

Excuse me, can I please hack off your arm?

 
We seem to be in an epidemic of SoulsBorne games at the moment, with new entries in this relatively new genre of gaming popping up with alarming frequency. I say alarming because, as one of many who struggle to enjoy the more hardcore style of these games, the quality and variety of these titles is quite enticing, but in no way relaxing for an evening’s gaming. The latest title to cause sleepless nights is Deck 13’s The Surge 2, a sci-fi take on the SoulsBorne formula. A sequel to 2017’s The Surge, Deck 13 have built upon their gritty formula and given the player a much larger playground in which to fight, and sever, to their hearts content.

 


 
The story, for what it’s worth, involves a plane accident and the player finding themselves in an out of control prison in Jericho City. There are a bunch of other things going on as well, but the game won’t be winning any awards for story telling. The setting, on the other hand, is quite interesting, in a gritty way. While most SoulsBorne titles take on a more fantasy setting, The Surge 2 goes all sci-fi, but minimises the future reliance on ranged attacks by giving the player more toys for melee combat. Ranged attacks do become available, but they have little or no bearing on the game as a whole. Instead, the player will find themselves in a future that involves, for the most part, humans fused with technology, usually in a particularly gruesome way.

 
The prison acts as a tutorial of sorts, introducing the player to their new grim reality. Once they manage to get out of this area, the player is given far more freedom to explore a walled and quarantined city. The city is filled with various factions, including a cult and the military, and while freedom to explore is the key, certain areas may not be accessed until later in the game, or until the player is actually strong enough to take on whatever nasties that area holds. Areas have a Medbay, which works in a similar manner to the Bonfires from the Dark Souls games, and as the player explores they will find shortcuts back to the Medbay to heal or upgrade their characters.

 
The biggest problem with this city is the sameness. While it is true that this new play area is much larger than in the previous game, the lack of variety makes navigating incredibly difficult, leading to much wandering around and getting into fights that could be avoided. There are some notable areas that the player will come across, areas that have their own style and stand out from the mundane, but they are few and far between.

 
Fans of the first game will be at home with this sense of constantly being lost, but most likely delighted with the improved sense of freedom that The Surge 2 offers. And besides, this is a hardcore game and being lost, not having a map, and only having a very vague idea of where you are supposed to be going is all part of the fun. As long as the combat is good, does it really matter?

 


 
Thankfully, the combat is pretty impressive. As already mentioned, there is very little emphasis on ranged combat here. Players instead have to get up close and personal with their adversaries, whatever they may be. The player’s character is not especially tough and won’t take many strikes to be put out of action, and so the game relies heavily on dodging, blocking and parrying. Of course, there are ways that the player can improve their ability to take damage, and once the combat is mastered the rank and file enemies will become far less of a problem, but the boss battles will remain a matter of hit and run for most players. It is brutal, even the prison tutorial will prove challenging for some players, but practice will soon see players hacking off limbs and keeping them for later.

 
This is perhaps the key feature in The Surge 2. Players will progress by acquiring tech parts from the enemies they fight, and doing this will mostly involve hacking off the desired tech. The player is able to target different parts of their enemies body, and once enough damage has been done, that part is claimed. It is a brilliant mechanic and has some really great finishing moves as the player tears off an emeries arm or whatever. See a piece of tech that you like on an enemy, and simply remove it for yourself.

 
Crafting comes into play as the player gathers schematics and tech scraps. This will all allow for the player to customise their character to their own play style, from heavily armoured but slow and bulky, to lightly armoured but far faster, and everything in between. This will make the game much more accessible to the player, especially as they improve in their combat skills along the way. Players are also able to upgrade their core character, gain perks, install special healing augmentations, and even use a drone which can have a very handy EMP strike that stuns enemies, all of which makes the player more capable and far better equipped to take on the hardcore action that awaits. The problem is that this will all take time to build up, and the early game is damn tough.

 
Even though the game has some excellent, if brutal, combat and some really good ideas, there are still some technical problems and a general lack of polish that holds the game back from being a truly great example of the genre. Frame rate issues, tearing and a dullness to the visuals are an issue, but for those who enjoyed the first game, these will not be a problem.

 


 
The Surge 2 works really well as a sequel. The game is bigger and has more variety, and while there are some small improvements, it remains very similar to the first game. The first game has its problems, but was still enjoyed by many hardcore gamers, and those are the target for this sequel. It is still not a game for the masses, and suffers with technical issues, but if you are a fan of the original, or just like the idea of a sci-fi SoulsBorne, then The Surge 2 will tick your boxes.

 

 ★★★★★★★½☆☆ 



 

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