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The Surge: A Walk in the Park on Xbox One review: A colorful but lackluster expansion


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The Surge is set in a dystopian future as Earth nears the end of its life.

Usually when you think of Dark Souls-like games, they take place in ancient worlds dominated by fantastic creatures where only the sword and shield see you through. While The Surge focuses on melee combat, the antagonists are technologically advanced and require the player to understand their abilities rather than simply dodging and striking.

The game is made by the creators of Lords of the Fallen, but unlike the former’s clunky combat, The Surge refines it in a variety of ways. The upcoming A Walk in the Park expansion offers more opportunity to level up your character and acquire better gear. Its story may not enhance the game in a meaningful way, but the colorful environment is definitely a welcome addition to the base game’s dreary corridors.

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Background and story

In The Surge, players assumes the role of Warren, who joins a rather bizarre corporation in order to walk again. This is a bleak vision of the future where there is a severe lack of resources. Those who remain in overpopulated cities must work to survive as social programs become saturated by an aging population and increasing environmental disasters. The world is dying and individuals have to head out to the suburbs seeking jobs. In order to increase their productivity, exoskeletons are fused with their bodies. This is where the problems begin for our ill-fated protagonist.

The Surge takes place in a bleak vision of our future.

A mysterious event causes all of the factory workers — aside from Warren and a handful of survivors — to lose their minds and begin attacking others. The facility is an absolute bloodbath. Uncovering the truth behind this catastrophe and making sure that it doesn’t spread to the rest of the globe is the main mission in The Surge. The amusement park-themed A Walk in the Park expansion seems to be more of a shortcut to reach the final boss than a game-changing add-on. However, there are some deeply personal moments in there that give us a greater understanding of the characters and their motivations. That should be one of the main reasons gamers pick this up.

Visuals and performance

As evidenced from the screenshots, The Surge is mostly a dark game which takes place in industrial buildings. The most color you get in the base version is when you reach the corporate offices. There you get to see bright decorations as the rooms are filled with artificial trees and other wood panels. A Walk in the Park takes place in an amusement park which has many underground layers. While the underground portions maintain the overall dank aesthetic of The Surge, the surface is filled with bright greens, luscious reds, and gorgeous blues. It’s a sight to behold and if you’re playing it on an Xbox One X on the “Quality” setting, it’s one of the most gorgeous and eye-popping titles ever.

The Surge’s “Performance” mode upgrades the frame rate to 60 FPS.

However, many gamers will prefer to play it on “Performance” mode because it offers 1080p 60 FPS visuals. While the 1080p resolution can mostly be ignored because the Quality setting offers 1800p rendering, the upgrade from 30 FPS to 60 FPS is the highlight here. Increasing the frame rate makes the controls tighter and slaying even the hardest enemies is a breeze due to increased precision. Input lag is reduced and your button presses translate to on-screen actions sooner. The Surge is a game where a split-second decision can make the difference between life and death. Even though it doesn’t look as good, playing at 60 FPS makes The Surge infinitely more enjoyable.

Gameplay and enhancements

Aside from its visuals, the best part of A Walk in the Park has to be the new collectibles. The base game explains the events which led to everyone becoming mindlessly aggressive, but fails to give you much insight as to why Warren came to the company in the first place. A Walk in the Park addresses that because there are a lot of audio recordings which touch upon topics like living with a disability and how it affects certain relationships. This adds an emotional layer to an action-focused game which is rather tearjerking to say the least.

The best part of A Walk in the Park has to be the new collectibles.

Unlike other such games, The Surge focuses on targeting particular body parts on your enemies and chopping them off. If you’re able to slice them, you can equip them. This is the only way to become stronger — getting better weapons and armor — because leveling up lets you equip advanced gear, it doesn’t outright improve your damage output or defense rating.

Difficulty and purpose

By the time we got to A Walk in the Park, we were already Level 92. This allowed us to effectively kill every enemy in seconds and the challenging bosses in minutes. Even towering behemoths were no match because our character was absolutely overpowered. It seem as though A Walk in the Park is mostly designed by for those who are starting the game from scratch or playing the campaign again. This is a missed opportunity because the developer could have easily made this endgame content so even high-level players would find it rewarding.

While A Walk in the Park contains a lot of additional items, the new armor is underwhelming to say the least. The base game’s MG Gorgon set is still the best one because if offers the most protection if you don’t want to equip random, clownish pieces. Unless we missed some endgame armor set that’s part of A Walk in the Park, the majority of them aren’t better than what was in the base experience.

A Walk in the Park is designed by for those who are starting the game from scratch.

It’s unclear what the design decision behind this is but maybe the developer didn’t want to force players to upgrade new equipment as nano cores are limited. Nano cores allow you to modify items beyond their maximum, but you can’t do that for each item as they’re very hard to come by. Having to upgrade a lot of new gear from the beginning may be an impossible task. Despite that, we would’ve liked to see some grander pieces to strive for. There really isn’t a need to collect the new armor sets unless you want to equip a giant mascot head and look silly.

The Surge: A Walk in the Park conclusion

Overall, A Walk in the Park is a good expansion which offers more gameplay hours but that’s all it does. You’ll gawk at the visuals but its existence doesn’t add anything extraordinary to the game unless you care deeply about the character. The audiologs are the best part by far because they give Warren a layer of complexity which was lacking in the original.

The expansion should’ve continued the story of The Surge after the ending instead of being an easy way to reach the final area. While A Walk in the Park adds more gameplay and some challenging bosses, it’s feels more like a proof of concept. One of the major complaints gamers had with The Surge was that it didn’t feature a lot of level variety. The entire experience, aside from the first level, basically took place indoors in similar hallways. A Walk in the Park addresses that but it doesn’t do so in a meaningful fashion because it’s more of the same aside from the visuals. The collectibles could’ve been added anywhere. If you’re looking for a reason to get back into The Surge, this will give you a new area to explore. However, A Walk in the Park doesn’t add anything revolutionary to the experience which makes it a must-buy.

Pros:

  • Gorgeous and colorful visuals.
  • Xbox One X upgrade adds 60 FPS option.
  • Emotional collectibles.

Cons:

  • Unmemorable detour.
  • Similar enemies.
  • Designed for new players.

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The Surge: A Walk in the Park will be available on December 5, 2017 on Xbox One, Windows PC, and PlayStation 4, priced at $14.99.

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