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Cyberpunk 2077 Review

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Story
9
Gameplay
7
Presentation
4
Sound
7
7

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✔️An incredible narrative, inspired by Hollywood’s vision of a cyberpunk dystopian future.
✔️Relatable cast of characters, portrayed by awesome talents.
✔️Has insurmountable potential to be one of the greatest video games of all time.

❌Riddled with game-breaking bugs.
❌Crashes multiple times on home console.
❌Braindance. We know what this means by now.

*Editor’s Note:

This review reflects our thoughts of Cyberpunk 2077 for PlayStation 4, released November 10, 2020 and played on PlayStation 5 hardware.

We built this city... 

Yes, this review is late. Anyone who knows me is aware that I like to get work done in a timely manner. If anything I throw caution to the wind, and dedicate my time towards reviewing a video game entirely. In Cyberpunk 2077’s case, I approached it with pessimism for obvious reasons. With all due respect to development studio CDPROJEKTRED, Cyberpunk 2077 has been a disastrous launch for a title touted as the biggest video game of 2020. There’s no embellishing, nor denying that fact with Hollywood megastar Keanu Reeves embroidered across multiple campaign materials, including posters, banners, commercials, you name it. Cyberpunk 2077’s potential was placed upon a pedestal higher than the Polish studio could handle. Here’s the outlier in this entire situation, gamers tend to forget history and manifest an entirely fabricated narrative towards a studio’s own legacy.

Recalling The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt’s initial launch back in 2015, the title was riddled with imperfections yet it garnered universal acclaim with multiple accolades applied in its illustrious position within gaming. For a title that entails an incredibly broad scope in terms of content and landscape, these bugs are easily overlooked and excused for the abundance of content that is provided. However in Cyberpunk’s circumstance, the ends do not justify the means here. While glitches may be usually sparse or scattered in places that are easily fixable with patches delivered on day one, you cannot patch an entire game on launch. It remains baffling how uncharacteristic it is for the established development group to allow this to be distributed as is. Were they not questioning their reputation? I’m genuinely at a loss with it all.

Going back to my first point, I gave Cyberpunk 2077 some leeway in hopes that CDPROJEKTRED would patch its litany of issues that had arisen from launch. With hotfix after hotfix, patch after patch, the title remained a series of unfortunate events with game-breaking bugs seemingly crashing PlayStation after PlayStation, even refusing to load scenarios and wiping my save file clean. This after 75 hours of playtime; luckily, I had just completed my playthrough. There is passion behind the project, and if you wipe away the cobwebs of Cyberpunk’s misgivings you can certainly see it in bountiful offerings of creativity and content, but again its lack of polish (on home console) outweighs the developers true determination in demonstrating its genius.

Hot in the city...

Before I continue with Cyberpunk’s presentation, gameplay and aesthetic issues, I want to highlight and give praise to its campaign. A cast of down to earth characters that connect on a personal level. From the title’s onset, you’re delivered a plethora of personal characteristics to apply to your version of V, the protagonist of this story. I personally was keen on playing the title as the default female avatar placed on much of Cyberpunk’s campaign materials, with one minor tweak – a huge donger (as my co-host Ryan Betson puts it, “underrated terminology”). From haircut to hair colour, width to height, gender assignment to overall fashion choices, the flexibility in pursuing your anti-hero is boundless, and truly expresses the title’s notion in freedom of choice.

These may be only small patterns to begin with but upon events unfolding after minute details, you will appreciate Cyberpunk’s deluge of delightful decisions. Upon beginning your campaign, you are met with three choices to forge your protagonists narrative. Each lifepath will define V’s backstory and how the RPG aspect of the title will in-turn play out. The Nomad’s are associated with clans that harbour on the outskirts of Night City’s Badland deserts. The Streetkid is a Night City faithful, living within the neon nightlights of its purple and pink, Tokyo city-like archetype. Deemed a commoner within Watson’s circles, they’re knowledge on all happenings within the community is unmatched to that of the socially inept, Corpo.

As implied by their nickname, Corpo’s are high profile members within the bustling metropolis. They lead a life of ruthless business ethics in hopes of climbing the corporate ladder within the Arasaka corporation. Reliable in reading the play, or quick to judge a person by their character, they sacrifice their own resolve for unethical practices that are deemed “worthy” within the cut-throat conglomerate. I chose to stick with Streekid, as I wanted to keep it within confines of Night City, also have it as relatable as possible. I will return to the title and try out the other two lifepath choices, but it seemed as the title was designed to persuade players in beginning as a Streetkid.

Upon completion of customising your character, the campaign begins with a prologue depending on which lifepath is chosen. With Streetkid, it begins with V sitting in a bar post-altercation. Bruised and battered, she lines her broken nose with the help of some “anaesthesia” or just a few shots of tequila. Returning home from Atlanta, she is approached by the bartender in hopes of settling a massive debt owing to local fixer, Kirk Sawyer. Confronting the cocky hitman, she asks if he can wave any debt owing for a favour in which Sawyer tells V, that he’s after a high-end vehicle worth a ton of cash. Accepting the job, she finds herself in the parking garage where a bunch of other high profile cars and vehicles are parked, only protected by a singular inspector.

Informing the crooked security that Kirk had sent you, he turns off all cameras within the vicinity so that you may “Do your thing” as he puts it. Discovering the car in the VIP zone, V hacks her way into the drivers seat readying to deliver the hot ride to the fixer. She is then confronted by a brickhouse of a bloke wielding a firearm that demands she get out of the car. Also a thief, he states that the car was Redfield’s not before a flurry of Night City Police arrive to foil his plans. Both V and the man are apprehended, with the owner of the car demanding they be tied, cuffed up and thrown into the sea so that they don’t float. The cops begins to beat V with their batons, but is knocked completely unconscious.

Waking in a back alley and straightening her broken nose again, V and the man identified as Jackie Wells acquaint themselves in a classic montage that moves their relationship forward a few pegs. Introducing V to his gang, the two become quite tight, thick as thieves some might say (yes it’s cheesy, I know). You are assigned a mission to rescue Sandra Dorsett from a ruthless band of murderous crooks, killing civilians in hopes of reselling cybernetics that that in-built into their bio-metrics. Found within a dingy apartment complex, barely alive and kept in a tub full of ice, Sandra is revived by V and delivered to the City’s Trauma Team. Armed like a military group, the health experts collect the body and drive off completing the pair’s objective.

I anticipate CDPR's PlayStation 5 version of the game will be an outstanding upgrade to this problematic release, and await with complete impatience and hope that my second trip through Night City will erase my doubt in its potential.

After some dialogue that furthers Cyberpunk’s narrative, we arrive to the title’s main story in which both V and Jackie have been contracted by notorious fixer Dexter DeShawn, in hopes of infiltrating the Arasaka Corporation to steal the chip of immortality. The duo manage to sneak into the corporate headquarters and attain the high end piece of technology, only for plans once again to go completely awry. Now in terms of the story from this point, I won’t go into detail for purposes that include major spoilers, but it essentially leads us to the point where we are awoken in a landfill by none other than Night City legend, and iconic Rockerboy, Johnny Silverhand, with the now trademark catchphrase “Wake the **** up samurai, we have a city to burn”.

Off your rocker...

So before I highlight some of my negative experiences, I want to give some praise to developers CDPR for their incredible design that does shine through much of Cyberpunk’s calamitous misfortunes. Night City is a stunning metropolis, that has the potential to be full of life. It’s futuristic wonderland represented in what a neon-like cityscape would be in the year 2077. Now of course, that would be overstatement as we could have said the exact same when watching Back to the Future: Part II, and the year 2015. But here we are in 2021 (Happy New Year by the way) and no flying cars, no instant pizza, but we do have iPhones… right? Regardless, Cyberpunk 2077 on console is our problem right now, and boy does it have a recitation of issues.

Given that it’s common knowledge, and the copy of the title that was kindly provided has been pulled from digital market at the time of writing this review, I’m only going to highlight my personal problems and erratic experiences had with this game. Off the bat, the game crashed on me multiple times. I could tell that I was in for a bumpy ride from initiation when I simply booted the title, and it didn’t even make it to the main menu before my PlayStation 5 tossed me back to the dashboard with an error code. I grimaced, but it wasn’t the first time it had happened with any PlayStation title beforehand, but the fact that this was only the first before another handful of times throughout my playthrough, made it quite a frustrating norm.

It became quite the task of trying to concentrate on each facet being presented on screen, with hopes of the game not wigging out and completely crashing. Multiple bugs broke the immersion of being placed in this unique setting, including lighting and shading flashing within cutscenes, vehicles clipping through scenarios that don’t call for them to be there, the stone-faced robotic NPCs that move in a triangular and unnatural fashion, texture pop-in out the wazoo, and just an overall lack in detail put towards much of the environment. These are some minor inconveniences that hinder Cyberpunk’s overall tarnished reputation on last gen consoles. Having played this for only an hour on my base PS4, oh boy was I none too pleased and immediately went back to my PlayStation 5. Without the PS5’s NVMe hardware, the game itself would be a total wreck.

Now there was one thing that I absolutely have to admonish, and scold CDPROJEKTRED for. Child models in the game are literally adult civilians that have had their bodies shrunk down. Deplorable. That is an absolutely disgusting shortcut to take. I would have preferred if they had simply copy pasted a template model of a child and had a thousand of them scattered rather than recycling models with large adult sized heads, and shrunken bodies. It’s an insult to a gamer’s intelligence. Like we weren’t going to notice, nor criticise this? It’s just wrong. So let’s talk about Cyberpunk’s broad interactivity before I give my thoughts on… Braindance. Playing the title in first-person perspective is quite the contrast, if anything a far cry from The Witcher’s third-person adventure, but that’s where its disparities in portrayal end.

As per traditional third-person RPG, stats and skills are dependent on building and collecting various components throughout the campaign. With each upgrade, you must visit a ripperdoc in order to upgrade your gear, and enhance your selected class. NetRunner, Techie and Solo are represented by how you level V’s stats throughout the story. Body, Intelligence, Reflexes, Technical and Cool will delegate you to a certain class upon upgrading each skilltree. Cybernetics and implants can be purchased and installed, along with military-grade weaponry through black markets. Traditional first-person shooter style mechanics are a given here, along with combat and ranged weaponry to enrich each engaging battle. Traversing through a fictional futuristic Capital of California, Night City is set within six districts that are overrun by their respective gangs.

Each are serves either as a safe haven for V to run amuck, or a high level of danger and must be precautious in each step she takes. To further carry out missions, and understand some of the narrative that unfolds, V must dissect other civilians memories and experiences, utilising the now notorious device known as “Braindance”. So by now, if you have not been informed about this, the Braindance sequence has caused a multitude of problems within the gaming community, mainly triggering seizures. Why developers chose to keep this feature in? I have no idea but should not be included in anyway. A terrible decision made by CDPR, and should be amended in future releases of the title. If anything, its easily fixable with a patch. I’m not going to continue embellishing over the situation, we know how bad it is, so I’ll move on.

Which console will you be playing Cyberpunk 2077?

Sidequests are available through various street fixers and NPCs. Minigames are unlocked that include training, hacking, boxing and racing. Shooting ranges will develop better handling, and understand weaponry use, although you may complete the game itself without having shoot or kill anyone, which is a neat feature. XP is obtained through each mission, and can be used to elevate each skill, and improve your street cred. Let’s talk a little about the performances of our cast in the title. As a Persona 5 fanboy, I was absolutely overjoyed, if anything elated to hear that Cherami Leigh (Persona 5’s Makoto Niijima) voiced the female version of our protagonist. An outstanding job from such high calibre talent, working alongside the incredible Keanu Reeves. Yet to experience Gavin Drea’s portrayal of V, I can’t comment but I’m sure he did an exemplary job in his performance.

So I’m going to wrap up my last-gen thoughts on Cyberpunk 2077 here. It’s a rough ride, but still a somewhat enjoyable feat from The Witcher developer. Would I recommend it on PlayStation 4? Depending on your personal circumstances, but if you are one of the lucky few that have acquired a next gen console, I’d wait. The immersion breaking, bug riddled experiences take away anything that was promised, but I did set my expectations at luke-warm before jumping in. I anticipate CDPR’s PlayStation 5 version of the game will be an outstanding upgrade to this problematic release, and await with complete impatience and hope that my second trip through Night City will erase my doubt in its potential. I’ve seen the PC version, it looks stunning. So I do pray that we get something as close to the PC release as possible. I’ll be back with my thoughts on PlayStation 5 version, later this year.

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Cyberpunk 2077 - CDPROJEKTRED

Cyberpunk 2077 is a 2020 action role-playing video game developed and published by CD Projekt. The story takes place in Night City, an open world set in the Cyberpunk universe. Players assume the first-person perspective of a customisable mercenary.

AVAILABLE NOW ON:

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Story
9
Gameplay
7
Presentation
4
Sound
7
7

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