|Review: The Surge (PS4)
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|Author:||Dungeonbuster [ Tue Jul 18, 2017 5:48 pm ]|
|Post subject:||Review: The Surge (PS4)|
(Full disclosure: Rented for PS4)
The Earth is in trouble and Creo is here to save us all. A hybrid between a rocket startup and a tech empire, the megacorp is launching rockets into the atmosphere to heal the planet faster than Tesla can make electric cars. They're also leading the world in high tech solutions that include fancy exoskeletons that can turn ordinary men into power loaders. Just without the Aliens.
As a hopeful employee, after arriving, you're stapled into your exoskeleton through your clothes (I hope you won't need to change anything) and predictably, something goes wrong. You wake up later in a scrapyard outside Creo HQ where you soon discover that a lot of other stuff has actually gone wrong while you were unconscious.
The Surge turns you into the two-legged death dealer of few words pulled into a mission to find out just what happened to Creo and its workforce who are now psychotic, half-dead exoskeletal puppets. The ones that can still think for themselves, however, are even deadlier and they all hate you except for a tiny few that you run across in one-sided conversations while trying not to die a lot. The good news is that your new body has turned you into a mini-Gundam.
Most of The Surge's environs consist of factory areas, concrete tunnels, and labs tying together into a twisting mass of corridors, walkways, and restricted levels filled with armored bad things. Enemies range from lumbering workers with repurposed metal blades in their arms, thugs dressed in bio-suits wielding flamethrowers, maintenance bots, giant mobile furnaces, to three-legged melee death spiders that will kill you in seconds for going around the wrong corner.
Much of the challenge lies in surviving a gauntlet of these enemies and fans of tough-as-nails hack 'n slashers like the Souls series may find themselves at home in The Surge's sci-fi wonderland. But there's also room for plenty of exploration, often rewarding the player with a powerful new mod or two. That also plays well with enemies that may drop a new weapon along with materials to craft it with along with and opportunities to discover out-of-the-way chunks of "scrap" (the currency used for upgrades and crafting) hidden everywhere. Shortcuts discovered along the way link back to the central "Operations" hub in each main zone where you can heal up and use scrap found in convenient stashes or harvested from foes to improve the capacity of your energy core (which can allow you to install more mods) and craft new gear with.
You also get a drone of your own that can be improved with mods of its own if you can find them. I barely used mine other than to kite foes with its shooting attack that didn't do a lot of damage, but it can help in a pinch if you've managed to generate enough power through your own attacks to give its shots a bigger punch.
There is no "store" in the game, only that Operations mini-bunker in each area where you can build and improve gear at. Any gear that you need is literally taken from the enemies you encounter, often by liberating limbs. Whenever you attack someone with your sword, pipe, or whatever else you're wielding, you generate temporary energy that builds up allowing you to eventually trigger special things whether they're mod-enabled super abilities or a juicy killing move. Once you've weakened an enemy enough, and have enough built up power, it's time for limbs to go flying. Like the helmet that security soldier has? Off with his head!
Combat keeps things simple with strong and normal attacks used to string together neat combos that vary depending on what weapons you're using whether it's a fancy looking pipe or a crackling plasma axe. The art of dodging became my mantra because blocking roots you to the spot -- there is no moving while blocking.
It doesn't matter if you're using something bladed or not. With enough hits, and saved up energy from those hits, you can (mostly) dismember whatever you want for both resources and blueprints for gear thanks to the aiming system that allows you to target specific body parts. A lot of times, enemies will have unarmored bits meaning that you can either aim for a faster kill by targeting the soft meat or put in the effort to get that left arm piece that you need to complete an armor set. It's this kind of subtle addition to the usual grinding that can make upgrades and finding new gear a bit more exciting than finding the stuff in a dusty chest, rewarding you both with resources and parts that can be salvaged for ingredients needed for higher level upgrades.
Death feasts here thanks to The Surge's love of occasionally ambushing you with foes that can kill you in one or two hits every now and then just to remind you that it is hard. When you die with a load of scrap on you, it stays at your point of death while you resurrect back at Operations. But unlike Souls games, you're timed on retrieving it. Once the time runs out, all that scrap is gone forever creating an additional challenge as if murderous bots and security guards that hate everyone weren't enough.
A run through The Surge ran me a bit over 40 hours and that was after trying to explore and pick up as much stuff as possible to get the "big picture" when it came to the story. Though the conversations that your character has aren't mind blowing, the overarching story is interesting told as it is through discovered notes, logs, and by simply progressing through the game. It does, though, sort of feel as if it relies a lot on cheap mob hits to keep things interesting and this especially gets worse at the end of the game where, despite my upgraded armor and weapons, I could still expect to die if some enemies looked at me the wrong way.
At the same time, the combat system can sometimes feel a bit behind the times. The inability to cancel out of animation loops for certain attacks can be awkward to deal with and being unable to move while blocking just feels wrong. Some games are more subtle with restricting their enemies to specific zones, but in The Surge, it's all too easy to see just where their assigned "paths" end when they chase you and then suddenly turn around as they reset back to their previous positions a lot of the time. On the other hand, working around these shortcomings brought its own challenges as I played the game the "way" that the designers evidently intended. It's a good thing that taking enemies apart never got old.
Still, a sci-fi beater like The Surge easily stands out on its own as a unique, and fun, experience. Crashing through the bowels of a corporate megadungeon as a staff-wielding, power skeleton powered by pieces of the dead, seized from foes by breaking them apart like meaty Legos, and inching ahead praying that the next fight won't kill you had its thrilling moments. If dying is just a meme for learning to do better for you, then The Surge might be the kind of science you could appreciate.
- Neat story and setting pushing that evil corporation vibe. It even has propaganda videos!
- Body part harvesting mechanic for upgrades
- Modular upgrade system
- Can't move while blocking
- Not as buggy as Lords of the Fallen but does have some strange quirks
- Combat system can be a bit rough around the edges
Final employee assessment: Three ED-209s out of Five
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