Cyberpunk 2077 Review
In the entire history of the gaming industry, few games have managed to achieve the level of hype that Cyberpunk 2077 has. In the seven years since the game received its first trailer, it has faced countless delays, been the subject of more than a handful of controversies, and was reportedly even cancelled at one point. In some ways, it’s a miracle that the game released at all, but what’s even stranger is that the game has managed to continue to be one of the most anticipated games of all time despite all of this, and that it’s already managed to become the best-selling PC game in history. However, none of this is remotely as surprising as the fact that, despite having some seriously major technical problems, Cyberpunk 2077 actually manages to live up to that astronomical amount of anticipation.
The first thing that you need to understand about Cyberpunk 2077 is that, technically speaking, it is the worst game that you can play this year. From the moment you boot up the game until you reach its end credits sequence, you’ll experience bugs. They range from insignificant things like NPCs T-posing, to more amusing oddities like your customisable genitals clipping through your clothing, up to game-breaking issues that will require you to reinstall the game. It’s impossible to go more than a few minutes without seeing something that’s technically out of place, and you’re likely to experience things that will erase hours of progress if you aren’t quicksaving every few minutes.
In addition, the game simply runs terribly. We played Cyberpunk 2077 on an upper-end gaming computer that had no problems with Microsoft Flight Simulator earlier this year, but despite this, we needed to turn the game down to its absolute lowest settings in order to achieve an acceptable frame rate of 30FPS. There are more than a few horror stories from people who are trying to play the game on past-gen consoles, and anyone with anything shy of a NASA supercomputer will struggle to get the game to run well. The only platform that it currently runs well on is Google Stadia, which is interesting, and gives us hope that this aspect of the game will eventually be fixed.
However, it speaks volumes about the game that, despite these two insanely big issues, Cyberpunk 2077 is still an immensely enjoyable experience. In the game, you don the cyber-shoes of V, a deeply customisable protagonist who ends up looking for revenge after events in the game’s lengthy prologue. Over the game’s respectable 40-hour runtime, the story follows you and a cast of well-written characters as you do things that are simply more grounded than the world-saving events of most RPGs. The game presents a refreshingly personal tale, and one that proves to be deeply relatable to all of us non-famous folk. The story, without getting into spoilers, is difficult to put down and will likely leave you with many of the philosophical thoughts about your own life that came up in games like The Last of Us Part II.
This is something that’s helped by the game’s charismatic cast of characters. Although at times you will bump elbows with Cyberpunk’s equivalent of kings and sorcerers, for the most part, the people you encounter in the world are nobodies. Like the game’s protagonist, everyone in the setting of Night City simply wants to exist, which makes it easy to engage with them. It’s hard not to fall in love with the game’s side characters, because like in many of the people in the aforementioned The Last of Us Part II, they’re legitimately human. Whereas games like Deus Ex force you to deal with the extremes of society for both good and bad, Cyberpunk lets you interact with actual people, which makes the overall experience more engaging than certain other games.
Cyberpunk 2077’s world also makes excellent use of this idea. If you can ignore the various aforementioned technical issues, Night City is far and away one of the most interesting gaming worlds to explore. At times, you will travel through insanely poor or insanely rich neighbourhoods, but most of the hours you spend will be in places that feel normal. It’s an absolute pleasure to wander the city streets at night, or to drive around for an hour in between missions, because like with the game’s story and characters, the city actually seems like somewhere that wasn’t designed exclusively for the sake of a video game. Instead, it genuinely makes sense how the town is laid out and how the sometimes lifeless NPCs move around it, which allows you to still stay immersed in the game even when you encounter bugs.
It helps that Cyberpunk 2077’s gameplay is decidedly enjoyable, too. At its core, the game is a first-person action-RPG, which means that when you aren’t listening to lengthy but engaging dialogue, you’ll be shooting and slashing your way through hordes of enemies. Although it isn’t exactly anything to write home about, it is a lot of fun to deal with baddies however you see fit. You can sneak through most encounters, there’s in-depth melee combat if that’s your thing, or if all else fails, you can always equip a light machine gun and go Rambo on whomever gets in your way. It’s very reminiscent of Fallout: New Vegas, where the enemies are a tad sponge-y and they always outnumber you, but because the weapons all have a very satisfying feel to them, it’s a lot of fun to plough through anyone who decides to get on your bad side.
There’s also a ton of variety in the skills that you can acquire. When you level up, you’re given one attribute point that can be put into one of four different core stats, and then a perk point which can be spent to gain a passive buff for one of about ten different specific skills. For instance, you level up your health by putting your attribute points into the strength statistic, and then you can become more proficient with your fists by acquiring a perk in the fighting skill tree. It’s not exactly the most in-depth system around, but it does a good job at ensuring that you can easily change up your playstyle for most of a playthrough, and that if you do decide to fully specialise in one or two weapon types, that you’ll be able to dominate the battlefield with them.
This variety also applies to the game’s fantastic visuals and music. Although at this point it’s rarely worth noting when a game looks or sounds good, Cyberpunk 2077 blows its competition out of the water. The game’s music specifically is hands-down some of the best that has ever been in an RPG, with excellent tracks that play both over the in-game radio and when you’re engaging in combat. The game also looks fantastic, and although it doesn’t quite justify its low frame rates, there’s enough visual variety to make the game always enjoyable to look at.
I’m not going to question why there’s a dedicated sex shop in the game.
Overall, then, Cyberpunk 2077 has some major issues, but these issues can be overlooked simply because of how good the rest of the game is. For being one of the most anticipated games of the past decade, the game manages to deliver on most of its expectations, as long as you aren’t expecting a game that can run at a stable framerate. The story it tells is one of the most personal ones in gaming, the actual gameplay is enjoyable enough, and if nothing else, it has some absolutely bangin’ tunes that are worth listening to as long as you can put up with all of the bugs.
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