Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Surge (SURGE.WAD)


Authors have been pretty good about releasing their unfinished projects as of late. Joshy's Surge was intended to be a full-fledged Scythe-like megaWAD but he found himself weary of mapping and elected to publish the seventeen levels as-is (and an unfinished MAP18 as a teaser), much like skillsaw did with Vanguard (or more recently Pawel Zarczynski's Stomper). Surge was made for Doom II, to be played in Boom-compatible engines. It doesn't muck about with a story, with its maps being the main showcase, much like Joshy and Darkwave0000's Speed of Doom. It's all about action.


As I've mentioned elsewhere, I haven't played Scythe yet (philistine that I am). The only thing that comes close is Khorus's Speedy Shit, from 2011, a project with similar goals (but not execution). Surge has a style all its own, apart from being composed of small, tough levels that play fast. As keenly observed in its release thread, each map is designed to either draw or push the player forward, surging forth into even more mayhem before he or she can really get situated. You'll probably die a few times before you figure out where the important points are you'll want to hit before you turn your gun - or fist - on your adversaries, but if you can't handle it with maps as small as these, you're just no fun.


Speaking of fists, there's a lot of Tyson action in Surge, enough that I was pretty comfortable punching out enemies compared to when I'd started the mapset. There are more levels with berserk packs than without, I think; granted, you're not going to be able to or even want to use your fists exclusively (plenty of mancubuses and the occasional Spiderdemons / Cyberdemons), but there's plenty of room to flex your muscles. The one big downfall of Surge's action is that it's heavily front-loaded. Once you clear each map out there are rarely any surprises waiting for you as you grab the scattered keys / flip the switches. I could have honestly used a teleport ambush or two, as much as Doomers can be huge babies about them.


I like the look of this mapset. It starts out in a pretty typical red rock Hell before moving to dark ruins, after which the player escapes into a series of tech maps. I think the visual quality improves as it moves along; the plain Hell levels look alright but aren't very entertaining. Maybe it's just a bad impression from MAP01. Between brevity, ball-busting, and beauty, Surge is a nice set of little levels that you should give a go if you like your Doom short and punchy. It's a pity Joshy never finished it, but you never know when inspiration strikes...



SURGE
by Josh "Joshy" Sealy

MAP01
Tiny level in Hellish red rock that's inundated with blood. It's all pistol-whipping as you take on a number of zombies, a handful of imps, and a spectre. Given the tight enemy count the emphasis on the handgun doesn't drag too much but it's still pretty eh.

MAP02
More red Hell but it's mainly an outdoors area ringing a central compound with some caverns in the back housing troublesome lost souls. There's still a lot of pistol play but you get the shotgun, albeit with its ammo at a premium. The monster count is also substantially higher, fielding a lot of demons to soak your ammo. Most of the health is hidden in the back so attrition plays a major role if you don't kill the zombies ASAP. Pretty fun; I like the pillar vault to the other side sequence.

MAP03
Gorgeous, dark lava cascades with a tough jumping section where you'll want some straferunning precision. It's not short on ammo or health; the main roadblock is navigating the pillars to all three keys. There's plenty of ammo and health, including a berserker pack you can save or use to speed things up. The lack of light in the opener makes it the most interesting fight.

MAP04
More red stuff but the focus is on Tyson style, as evidenced by that handy berserker pack at the start. In fact, if you squander all your ammo, some sections will end up just a tad awkward. I'd like to see you punch those imps off the ledges, anyway. Favorite section for me is the caco room for sheer berserk goodness and a nice teleport wave of fleshbags.

MAP05
Two choices: punch your way to freedom or just blitz past everything to the safety of the shotgun alcove, where you can work your way backward, clearing out all the monsters you left behind. There's a lot to kill but plenty of ammo and health to do it with. Nothing really stands out except for maybe that surprise skeleton as the action is almost entirely low-tier monsters that are vying (and dying) for your attention.

MAP06
Something in a bit of a different feel with the dark ash brick compound you have to fight your way in to. The main breaks are either staying to fight the sergeants with the armor or rushing in past the cacos. Joshy has more neat pseudo-3D jumps here but once you make your way past the initial onslaught, you're pretty much set. I do like the look of the base; it's a nice break from the previously dominant red rock.

MAP07
Super short and super brutal "Dead Simple" with a lot less effective cover given that you're surrounded by mancubuses (which seem unusually durable!). The wave of cacodemons that comes over the eastern side are an additional complication that you'll have to tackle if you decide to vault into the lower section for the bonus shells and rockets. The arachnotron finale is underwhelming after that opening.

MAP08
A slightly larger level with a more structured feel given the courtyard that dominates the center of the map. The encounters are more organized than previous outings but, like some previous outings, you're going to spend most of your time punching your way through hordes of enemies. Demons and imps are the big ones, with the latter wave worthy of HR's "Knockout" (though not nearly as demanding). That graveyard fight is pretty DoomCute.

MAP09
Some Hellish ruins in kind of a blood sewer theme. Very cool map with some Tyson action to start while you grab some decent bread and butter weapons, taking care to avoid the revenant rockets and doddering mancubuses in the trenches. The highlight for me was the drop into the lowest point with a very close-quarters Cyberdemon fight, but a couple of arch-viles managed to keep things memorable all the way to the end. Good stuff!

MAP10
Things get even nastier with this little corner of Hell. It's mostly subterranean with lava pools and a cool semi-open cavern which has the Spiderdemon, which isn't exactly threatening but is something you have to be aware of. Mancubuses are the main roadblock, put in various chokepoints that you'll want to clear so that you can get some breathing room. I like the walkover buttons to raise the pillars to the red key.

MAP11
New theme! Errr, awkward. This outdoors / techbase level is all about crossfire, which you're clued in to with that arc of commandos that pops up at the onset. You're going to see bullets and fireballs from just about every direction so travel light and punch fast until you get a foothold. The opening shootout is the only real standout moment but it doesn't let up for awhile.

MAP12
The opening columns of this base kind of remind me of Joshy's "Technoprison" from CC4, but it's a pretty different level, though that opening surprise with the jailed arch-vile makes the initial run pretty hectic. The level kind of peters out after you get some rockets and take him out, but you've got to fight for your right to party, and there's plenty of opportunities to box if you're still itching for fistfighting, which by now I've gotten pretty used to.

MAP13
Gorgeous open-layout base area with some nice waterfalls. It's a huge clusterfuck at the opening with cacos, revenants, imps and demons all looking for a taste and you scrambling for some breathing room. When you finally beat the badasses you can kind of relax though the finale has you chewing through a conga line of fatasses on your way to the exit. Pretty exciting.

MAP14
Underground cavern lined with some base trappings. It's got a lot of monsters running interference at the start, compounded with a Cyberdemon in the center that is pretty good at hitting you from virtually any position. Respect him; he's not easy to deal with unless you just hit him from bullets from afar. Joshy has a few traps lying in wait; nothing major, but they might force you back into an errant rocket if you're not careful.

MAP15
A nice-looking outdoor base with a healthy amount of nukage you can duck into if you're feeling overwhelmed. It's got another out of control start; the key is surviving long enough to fight your way to a handy dandy rocket launcher so you can start removing those entrenched mancubuses (taking care to avoid those nasty blasts of arch-vile fire). I'm not even sure what happened to the Spiderdemon; I think I suckered it into a nasty infight where it couldn't hit back. Great action!

MAP16
The most grueling level so far with claustrophobic sewer fights including bunches of barons you'll have to off with either punches (for pros) or the plain ol' shotgun. Besides the very tight opening you'll find a few surprises, like the arch-vile by the rocket launcher, who you might just have to soak as you punch it to pieces. Very nice and very rough.

MAP17
Ahahaha. Very nice finale; the level has a slightly complex layout but it's actually a bit of a racetrack. You start by passing the Cyberdemon and then praying for dear life as you blitz through zombies, past revenants, and then avoid all the hell knights and barons trundling around. After that you can grab a SSG and start laying waste to all the rodeo clowns and then off big boy himself so you can finally get some peace.

7 comments:

  1. As always thanks for the review, it alerted me to the existence of this wad which I somehow missed. Too bad it wasn't finished :(

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  2. IIRC, Joshy himself made fun of Map01's lack of anything interesting whatsoever. Fun wad overall, though.

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  3. The final version of Resurgence has arrived! Three maps (01, 07, and 08) were cut completely. Three pairs of the remaining fourteen (04-05/11-12/16-17) have been combined into one map (with changes at times), thus condensing six levels into three. The remaining eight levels in this wad appear in Resurgence individually, some with major changes, some not so major. And around twenty brand new levels that leaves, including all from Map17 on. I know you've been anticipating a final release of this so here's my hope it doesn't let you down. :)

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  4. Are there plans to redo this review for Resurgence (or a new review for it)?

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    1. resurgence may be an update of sorts but i think surge holds up as having its own particular style so since it hasnt been purged from the archives ill just be making a new review for the retooling

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    2. According to Joshy, the upgrades to existing Surge maps are to work on what he wasn't happy with in the original Surge. Maps 1,7, and 8 have been totally thrown out. Maps 9,13, and 14 have been included (as Maps 5,13,14) with virtually no changes.

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    3. uhhhhh im not sure where this is going so im just gonna head this off and say that unless joshy like begs to get it taken down this review, like the copy and demos for it on the DSDA, is here to stay. tho i see no problem with a highly visible link / note directing to resurgence, whenever i play it. ~the end~

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