The Surge 2 is a game that has been marginally on my radar; I say this because I had planned to play the first one properly (Having only played it for a few hours before) and other Souls-like titles first… However I was kindly given the opportunity to review The Surge 2, and what will differ about my review is that I will be breaking down everything in The Surge 2 as a whole, and not comparing it to the first one as it’s all new to me.
This is moreso a first impressions review because I feel its a game that can’t be truly reviewed until a lot further in, as you do spend a lot of the time covering the same areas.
There’s a brief story where there’s a plane crash and you’re the sole survivor, it crash lands in the city where this infection (The Surge, I guess, I didn’t pay enough attention!) has turned everything to shit. The aim is just to survive, but there is a weird flashback of a little girl; could it be my daughter? I have no idea! So I set out to explore this infection torn city…
So first things first, there’s no doubting its a difficult game, not quite Dark Souls punishing, but you’ll die if you make silly mistakes. Now I’d argue that if this game was your intro to this style of combat (Which I really doubt) you probably won’t have a good time. You need to have an understanding of the dodging, parrying and stamina management that the Souls system created. Now I won’t harp on about it and keep comparing the game because it feels like every other game I hear about is a Souls clone, because the formula works – Plus the Sci-fi setting, gear upgrading and combat makes it feel very different to Souls, but just be warned you’re gonna die a lot; this isn’t a simple hack’n’slash game.
So if you’re like me you’ve barely played the first one or not played it at all I’ll give an outlay of the gameplay, and I will say this…
I now have no doubt that I will go back and play through the first instalment.
You are set up in bonf-… Err… Medbays which act as your checkpoint and place of safety, you’ll work out from here and often end up back looping back round to the same place. The idea of the game is that you have to hack off people’s limbs to equip new parts to your own; hack off a head for a helmet, rip them in half for a chest piece etc. The idea is to build an op suit of armour (Think Elysium) to smash in the heads of everyone who stands in your way. Once you’ve gained the schematics by tearing people apart you’ll then need to head back to your Medbay to craft that piece of armour; you can also upgrade these pieces by collecting lots more legs and arms! So you’ve got gear collection and tough combat, a recipe for success!
Now of course its not that simple, to do all of these crafting and upgrading niceties you’re gonna need a crap load of Scrap. Scrap is your XP and currency, so it can be used to level up or to upgrade gear. in this strange mech suit world you drop your Scrap when killed (XP, or Souls too) and have a timer to get back and pick it up, which you can add seconds to by killing along the way. Die and you’ll lose it forever! Your upgrades and equipment take up core power, which is low early on so you must use your parts cleverly… But seeing your progression in the form of the parts you’ve crafted and upgraded is really awesome.
So in a nutshell that’s how the game works, but what about its core mechanic, the combat? Well I’ll say this, I can see myself sinking days into this just because killing people is so fun. To get someone’s body part off you have to constantly attack said body part to lop it off (Usually done in a glorious and bloody slo-mo); if a part is worth having it’ll be armoured and coloured yellow, and this part will most likely give you some crafty parts. Usually you’ll need to relentlessy attack the limb for the enemy’s whole health bar, as if you switch around and don’t do enough damage to one part, and get the square button prompt, you’ll just kill them.
You need to parry and dodge to gain advantages over your enemies, but deplete your stamina (Which goes down very quickly) and you’ll be left with nothing to offer except your own demise. The first boss of the game, which was about half an hour in, really taught me to take my time and definitely made me realise this is not a game to be taken lightly. As well as all this fun there’s also directional blocking, so to parry you must block in the correct direction and on time, but perfect parries equal a stun which is mega helpful, although it doesn’t last for long and won’t have you killing an enemy in one combo after the parry.
On top of this, the combos are just awesome; the game is quick and makes you feel like a boss when you get it right. Parrying a tough enemy and pulling off a combo which results in you being able to slice off their head looks and feels great, you’ll also get a specific gory animation watching their head or leg fly into the distance. Not only is all this great, but there’s also a huge range of weapons to use, and you can easily switch between these to switch up your combat. Pretty much every weapon has felt different to me, and you will want to play around depending on the type of enemy, my favourites so far have been this Scrap hammer/axe combo and arm blades (Think Baraka). I wouldn’t say you’ve had to have played Souls, but it definitely helps with the combat, and will make you pick this up easier.
Another plus is your little helper drone, who can also be equipped with different weapons such as a gun or molotov launcher; I’ve found myself using this much more than I thought to keep ranged enemies at bay or chip away at their armour.
So this all sounds great right? But are there any negatives? Well only a few slight niggles. One thing I found tricky, and this may be down to me just not playing right, is that you have to block directionally and choose the body part you want to attack both with the right stick. I sometimes got frustrated where I had to block left, but needed to attack the right arm, but by the time I started my combo I’m attacking the wrong part and I don’t get their tasty arm. Like I say, this ain’t necessarily the game fault, it’s probably me. The only other thing that irked me was the use of gamertags – You eventually unlock a drone which can paint graffiti and warn other players around the world of danger or treasure, which is fine… However these can be placed under enemies feet, and the button to view the person’s profile (Because I reeeally wanna do that don’t I!) is the square button, the same as the chopping off input, so mid-combat you’ll get this annoying pop up of some dick’s profile. Also so far the side missions seem really unimportant; it’s mostly fetch quests, but I don’t really understand the importance of them – Perhaps that will change when I’ve found said drone. Honestly though this is about it, apart from this the game is super fun and not glitchy and solid. The game quite simply is fucking fun and a joy to play.
At this moment in time I want to spend more than the time I have to give a final score, however my opinion is this. It’s really great fun, and although it doesn’t re-invent the wheel or probably won’t win any Game of the Year awards, the game is fucking solid and will easily have you hooked with its great gameplay and crafting mechanics. Once it has its claws in you, it wont let go and you’ll keep going back. Combining the Souls formula with Sci-Fi and gear crafting /collecting is a definite win, and it feels they’ve learnt from the first game and perfected their offering.
Right now I score it at: