Hello and yes, we are still in lockdown, and yes I am still gaming. Here’s a brief overview and some thoughts on what I’ve been playing lately.
To round off the last of 2020, I have been tackling one of the most anticipated RPGs of all time, Cyberpunk 2077. While these posts are never intended as in-depth (or even game reviews in any sense), I will be keeping this one fair and to the point; any talk of the controversies involving the studio have been covered to exhaustion across articles and YouTube videos, so look into that if you’re interested.
[+++++++ I’ve also tried to keep the in-game pics spoiler-free +++++++]
The main protagonist is V, a trouble-maker whose appearance, background and skills are selected by the player. After a prologue determined by whichever life path is chosen, it is down to the nitty-gritty in Night City, a bustling futuristic hub teeming with style, neon lights, overbearing corporations and sinister gangs. The comparisons never truly do it justice, but the longer I play the more I see hints of Blade Runner, The Warriors, and Total Recall, as well as the more obvious influences like GTA (in particular San Andreas), the original Deus Ex, and William Gibson’s novel Neuromancer.
There is the standard fare of open-world fun to be had, with multiple main quest threads appearing, along with a variety of side jobs, investigations and crimes that pop up as you make your way through the city. What’s refreshing is that side jobs don’t just equate to random bitch-work; there’s moments for the player’s character to shine with cinematic points popping up unexpectedly in these little quests, and they do flesh out a number of aspects of Cyberpunk, from the gangs to tertiary characters, to V him/herself on occasion, and are enjoyable all the same. There are a small handful of cut-and-paste jobs however, certain quest types that are just staples of the sandbox game genre these days, and I imagine these missions are hard to deviate from in the design process.
Being an RPG, there are skills and perks to choose from, with attributes being tweaked during character creation and skills being increased through use during the game. What perks are purchased is up to the player, and the better V gets at any given skill determines how many new perks are available for purchase with these points. I like this system as it both encourages and rewards for playing a particular way, and there are many options for completing tasks; hacking, running-and-gunning, sneaking, breaking in or using a diplomatic/flirty approach are just some of the methods for getting the job done. Cybernetic implants are also on the menu to enhance areas of V’s body and performance, such as additional armour plates, hacking decks or retractable forearm blades, to name a few.
The sounds of Night City are immersive in their own right. The voice acting is outstanding, with special mention to (female) V’s voice actor, Cherami Leigh, and Keanu Reeves as Johnny Silverhand. Every character I have encountered feels like a legitimate part of the world and helps to sell it in a big way. The sounds of techno-rock blaring from a passing car stereo, the whooshing blast of a tech sniper as it fires, even a gang member calling me a pussy when they were scouring the area for me- it does wonders for the atmosphere of Cyberpunk 2077.
A bunch of downsides though? As mentioned, this will be game-specific and nothing more. There are issues with glitches and bugs aplenty; NPCs T-posing, enemies straying into solid objects and becoming stuck, subtitles getting lodged on-screen and not disappearing, game crashes and save corruptions are rife, though two patches have helped to trim a bundle of issues down. I’m playing on PS4 Pro and the game is in a playable state for myself, which I’m grateful for, although I know this isn’t the case for everybody. Cyberpunk 2077 is a huge game and it just doesn’t run as well as it should on a platform it was seemingly developed for. What should have been a successful launch saw a game with strong storytelling and engaging game world marred by technical and visual issues.
The story is hypnotic, the voice acting is great and the RPG system is robust and addictive itself. I’m constantly reminded of Deus Ex while playing, a classic chunk of sci fi that still holds up to this day. A little more work needs to be done by CD Projekt Red to fix bugs and make this playable for everyone, because I think Cyberpunk 2077 should (eventually) be experienced by a wider audience than it currently is. Is it a great game? I believe it is, at its core. The poor console performance is disappointing and certainly took me out of the action until the patch went through, and I understand why others are angry at the state of the product at launch. Let’s hope 2021 can see things turn around.
These are just a few thoughts on Cyberpunk 2077, though. In the mean time, I hope you stay safe and thanks for reading.