Deck13’s original release of The Surge became a little bit of a sleeper hit. Though it couldn’t quite manage the success of other big releases, it found a niche all its own, with a fun tone that pretty much built with you as you continued onward with it. And I’m happy to report that The Surge 2 follows suit, offering a few more options that will get returning players into it with ease. That said, there are a few faults – mainly with difficulty and the lock-on system – which may be slightly frustrating for some.
You begin by choosing from one of six characters, each with their own backstory. No matter which way you go, however, you soon find yourself fending for survival in a hospital, realizing that something has gone very, very wrong in Jericho City. It’s up to you to eventually build your skills, weaponize in the best way possible (between melee and a drone that can be called upon at times to pick off targets) and try to stay alive.
The story itself is flimsy, almost on the level of a SyFy-style movie. (And we mean the bad ones, not the instant classics.) But it does set a framework for the action that The Surge 2 delivers, and that’s where the game truly counts.
As before, the in-game combat has a reliance on a stamina bar. With each strike, you find it getting lower and lower, to the point that you’ll need to recharge in some cases. This is where a drone comes in handy to pick off targets from a distance or maybe do damage to someone closer.
For the most part, however, you’ll need to approach this game with sort of a Dark Souls frame of mind. Go in fists swinging and you’ll likely end up dead very quickly. Strategize and pick your spots, however, and you’ll make it to the next battle.
One neat aspect to the gameplay is being able to aim for vital spots on a foe. This includes bashing them in the head or finding a weak spot, should they be armored enough. This worked well in the first game and continues to do well here. What’s more, you can become strong enough to take off limbs, and change up between horizontal and vertical attacks. Useful, especially with the foes you go up against.
This ties in with the awesome finishers within the game. Yes, you can perform some devastating fatalities, which are continuously more fun to execute as you go along. This is also the key for taking off some limbs – or just going for some satisfying decapitations, if that’s your sort of thing. Just make sure you keep an eye on your battery charges and refill whenever you can. The last thing you want to do is run short.
There’s also some helpful XP that assists you with leveling up and eventually becoming a true badass. However, just be aware that The Surge 2 will make you work for it. The game is tough, actually a bit harder than what the original had to offer. Again, that may turn off a few rookie players out there. But veterans will know what they’re getting into, and jump into this world with a plan.
I just wish the lock-on system were a bit better. There are times it’s terrific with targeting spots. But then switching to another foe can be a bit of a pain. And sometimes you miss out on the more immediate threat, which may be behind you. A little tweaking by Deck13 would make some difference here, especially with the odds already stacked.
This is especially true with the boss fights, which are a blast. Going up against spider bots and other toughies can be a real handful, but also very rewarding when it comes to leveling up. Don’t miss out on these.
I should also note the ability to leave notes for other players within the world, and even set up a “revenge enemy” or two, in case you’re having trouble beating them. If someone else manages to clean house on them, they’ll be promptly rewarded for their trouble. It’s not quite the same as Dark Souls’ campfire system, but it’s pretty cool all the same.
Despite some problematic camera issues, the visuals in The Surge 2 are terrific. Deck13 poured on the production value with both the vast open-world your player will explore and the beautiful animations. It’s striking at times, especially if you’ve got an Xbox One X or PlayStation 4 Pro that really provides all the details. The cinemas look great as well, in case you feel like absorbing the somewhat iffy story.
As for the sound, it’s not bad either. Solid voice acting throughout, even if most of the characters are forgettable. And the music cues and sound effects deliver where needed.
How much you get into The Surge 2 will really depend how much you liked the first one. Newcomers may be intrigued to give the game a shot, though the difficulty might be too much to bear. Those who played (and loved) the first game, though, will be absolutely right at home here. The improvements made in most areas are notable, and the presentation is wonderfully evolved over the first game. There’s a lot to enjoy here, provided you’re ready to step up and earn it. In short, the more power you bring to this Surge, the better.
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