Saturday, 26 October 2019

The Surge 2 ★★★★☆

‘The Surge 2’ is the follow-up to the initial sci-fi souls like game ‘The Surge’ that garnered a bit of a following due to its intense combat. It was really fun to play and was heavily incentivised by quite an unusual method of gaining new weapons and equipment in the game – cutting off the limbs of enemies. It was an interesting concept and something a bit different than your carbon copy of ‘Dark Souls’, but unfortunately, a lacklustre story and some bland level design held it back from being great. ‘The Surge 2’ is a leap forward in quality in almost every area that really makes this entry a lot more enticing. It’s not without its problems, of course, but it really shows a commitment to making a better game.

In the sequel, you play as an unnamed character – unlike the first game you get to create your character before you start, with a fairly extensive selection of options to help make your character distinct. The game is set mostly in the quarantined city of Jericho after an outbreak of a nano-plague and you, the sole survivor of a plane crash, find yourself deep in trouble in the city, torn between various factions all trying to take control of what is left of society.

As I’ve mentioned, the main thing you want to be doing is cutting those limbs off – to do so you’ll run-up to any human or robot you see and chop, chop and chop some more.  Once that shiny golden glow of loot flies off their bodies you can either upgrade your current equipment or find new toys to play with. Of course, this isn't all you will be doing in the game. As you explore the different areas there are some environmental puzzles to solve and loads of side quests for you to undertake. The level design is so much more fluid in this game, with many shortcuts to be found that make traversing the environment dangerous yet rewarding.

My main qualm with ‘The Surge 2’ is in the graphics department. Not only has there been a major downgrade since the previous entry (I imagine because the scope of the world is a lot bigger than the previous one) but performance is disappointing at times. Loading into new areas or sometimes even pausing/unpausing the game can lead to heavy texture pop-in that really drags you out of the experience. You can be talking to a vendor and, as the conversation is going on, more and more of the clothing texture will pop-in, making it really rather distracting.

Luckily the game is quite smooth when it comes to framerate and I didn't have too many issues with frame dips while I was playing. The camera can sometimes act a bit funny as there are a lot of tight corridor environments, which leads to the camera going behind a wall and blocking your view of anything that is going on – something I don’t expect from games of this generation.

Even with the problems that I had, ‘The Surge 2’ is a vast improvement on what was already a good first entry into the franchise. The second game improves on all aspects and adds a lot of variety with more weapons to choose from and many different builds to play. The game contains many hidden secrets and, for fans of the first game, there is so much to love here. It does enough differently to set itself apart from being just another souls like clone, making it a positive recommendation for those that enjoy this particular game style.

Hannah Read

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