A robust imaging technology is reviewed that provide subsurface information in challenging environments: wave-equation dispersion inversion (WD) of surface waves for the shear velocity model. We demonstrate the benefits and liabilities of the method with synthetic seismograms and field data. The benefits of WD are that 1) there is no layered medium assumption, as there is in conventional inversion of dispersion curves, so that the 2D or 3D S-velocity model can be reliably obtained with seismic surveys over rugged topography, and 2) WD mostly avoids getting stuck in local minima. The synthetic and field data examples demonstrate that WD can accurately reconstruct the S-wave velocity distributions in laterally heterogeneous media if the dispersion curves can be identified and picked. The WD method is easily extended to anisotropic media and the inversion of dispersion curves associated with Love wave. The liability is that is almost as expensive as FWI and only recovers the Vs distribution to a depth no deeper than about 1/2~1/3 wavelength.