Friday, March 18

Cyberpunk 2077 Review

I played on: Xbox Series X
I paid: £22 (CEX)
Available on: Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, PS4, PS5, PC, and Stadia
Notes: The PS4 and Xbox One versions of this game are much buggier and more prone to crashes and slow down than the newer more current generation devices.

In 2020, I gave Cyberpunk 2077 my worst game of the year award due to its frankly horrid launch. While it was a broken unplayable mess when first released it’s been almost 2 years now. Has CD Projekt Red used this time to turn Cyberpunk into the game everyone wanted it to be, or has it been left to rot? It brings me joy to say that for the most part, it’s been fixed and is now a fun game with fantastic writing and world-building.

Cyberpunk 2077 is an open-world RPG set in the world of the table-top RPG Cyberpunk. Because this is based on an existing property with its own lore and backstory this feels like a rich world with a lot more going on than you are personally involved with. I love this. This world is bigger than just you. 

The biggest change from our real world is a nuclear attack on New York City in 1993. After this attack, the world stock markets failed, and the US government slowly began to collapse. Corporations seized the opportunity and grew in size until they became goliath megacorporations. In 1994 a businessman called Richard Night started his own company, Night International. With this, he founded Coronado City, a city located on the border of north and south California. Coronado City operates as an independent city-state outside of the rule of the rest of the USA. Over time it would become known as Night City, and this is where Cyberpunk 2077 is set.

By 2004 these megacorporations went to war in what came to be known as the first corporate war. War is no longer a thing fought between two nations, now corporations have grown to the size and power of nations themselves. Make no mistake, this wasn’t a small conflict, this was a World War. As more and more conflicts broke out cyber-wear technology was created allowing for augmented cybernetic limbs. Cloning technology also led to the rich being able to grow new identical bodies that can be used for replacement organs. This increased the lifespan of the rich dramatically. 2013 sees the creation of the first artificial intelligence. This is when the first edition of the table-top RPG is set. The second edition is set in 2020. 

Between 2020 and 2030 humanity established a colony on Mars and the 4th corporate war broke out between Arasaka and Militech. During this war, Johnny Silverhands, a famous rock star, led a Militech attack on the Arasaka HQ megatower. Johnny loaded a small nuclear bomb onto the elevator. He attempted to escape but was unable to, he survived the blast but was captured by Arasaka. His mind was painfully copied creating a digital version of his consciousness. The bomb he planted destroyed the building, killed 12,000 people, and left Night City a radioactive hellscape. 

By 2077, when the video game begins, Night City has been rebuilt with the Arasaka corp at the center of it all. Johnny Silverhands is known as a terrorist. You play as V, a merc looking to make a name for themselves in Night City. After a job goes wrong during the opening, you’re left with the digital consciousness of Johnny Silverhands fighting for control over your body. The main storyline sees you trying to remove Johnny as he’s slowly killing you. You will learn more about Johnny and his history during this journey. At first, I thought he was a shallow character but as you grow closer to him, he opens up into a really well-written person.

The writing is really the strongest part of Cyberpunk 2077. Even the side missions are better written than most games I’ve played. Over the 40 to 50-hour game, you will meet loads of fleshed-out characters with a lot of depth. The events of the game also offer plenty of choice and splitting paths. Quite a few times I found myself wondering if the choice I had made was the right one or not. The range of themes tackled here is impressive. You have simple decisions like do you free a hostage or hand them over for extra money. To more complex issues like deciding whether or not to factory reset a bunch of artificial intelligence’s, essentially killing them, or freeing them knowing they may harm people.

Between the talking and choice-making, you have the open world to explore and the combat to take on. The open world is beautiful with lots of people, vehicles, and crime happening all around you. It’s not uncommon to overhear NPC’s having conversations or to see them just chilling out together. While their behavior isn’t as complex or impressive as Bethesda’s work in their Elder Scrolls or Fallout series, I’d say it’s at least on par or slightly above the NPCs found in the Grand Theft Auto games. The driving is simple but feels great, I particularly like how the motorbikes feel. Sadly, although you’re able to see plenty of flying vehicles you’re unable to fly any of them here. 

The combat feels very similar to Fallout 4. You’re able to use simple cover and stealth but most of the time I fell back on good old-fashioned violence. The guns all feel great to use and melee weapons feel just as good. Hacking is a key part of most conflicts. You’re able to hack into most electronic objects around the world to cause distractions or even set up traps. Of course, it’s not just the objects that can be hacked, most people in Night City are using augmented tech in their bodies. If you level up your character and buy the right upgrades then you’re able to temporarily blind enemies, short-circuit their tech, and so on. This creates a combat system with a lot more depth than you’d first expect.

The presentation is where this game is the most mixed. Now 90% of the time it will look simply jaw-dropping, even on the performance mode. When you put it to the quality graphic mode then it looks even better. The usage of ray-traced shadows really does a lot when you pay attention. This comes at the cost of dropping the frames-per-second to 30. Most of the time I stuck to the performance mode as the 60 FPS made the entire game feel buttery smooth. Every now and then you will see the odd bug or glitch that forces you to have a double-take. These are normally small issues like NPC’s rag dolling for no reason or a texture flickering. I did encounter one major bug towards the end of the game that really took the cake though. I was in an elevator with 2 of my NPC buddies when they just flew up into the ceiling, only to reappear at the bottom as if nothing had happened. This was the biggest glitch I found and that’s with 50 hours of playtime so it’s not too bad. Certainly, a massive step up over the state of the game at launch.

To summarize Cyberpunk 2077 is a mix between Fallout and Deus Ex. Great exploration and shooting set in a rich, deep world that draws on its history of table-top RPG games. While this was a broken mess upon launch CDPR has done a lot of work and now it feels like a solid game. While it still has the odd glitch here and there it’s no worse than most games of this epic scale. This isn’t going to change the world but it’s one of the better next-generation games out as of the beginning of 2022. If any of what I’ve said sounds interesting, then it’s worth picking up cheap on next-gen. If you only have a last-generation console or dated computer then I’d give it a miss. I played this back on my Xbox One and it was a much poorer experience. Still the same great game but hindered by long load times, lots of pop-in, and loads of bugs and glitches.

Recommendation Rating: 8 out of 10.

1 comment:

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