Overall 8.50
One of the most hyped games turned into one of the most controversial in gaming history this year when Cyberpunk 2077 launched in a terrible state. We had near broken versions released for consoles and even if it ran decently it was very buggy on PC. The fires of the angry internet mob rose so high there was an unprecedented removal of the game from the PS store and the ability to request refunds after the game was played. The shitstorm is warranted but also clouds any discussion about this game. There were many positive reviews at launch, leading many to question the integrity of media reviews as that’s the accusation most people love to jump to, everyone loves a good conspiracy theory, “they were paid off!” The truth though is that many just got the best version available and were not given the more broken console versions, extremely shady and CD is paying for that in potential lawsuits. So when some reviews actually enjoyed the PC version I believe them because I enjoyed that same version on my own medium settings PC. Yes the game is buggy, yes a ton of features that were promised are not in the game, yes there are tons of problems; and still it’s very enjoyable with fantastic world building and storytelling.

This review will be a Dvader special where I will get accused of sounding very negative but give it a high score. So I will clarify this again, my score is my enjoyment level of the game, I played for nearly 100 hours and was thoroughly entertained, I think this game is GREAT! I think this game is better than Witcher 3. But my review isn’t just about me, I will describe everything I feel you guys should know about the game and there are a ton of negatives that don’t bother me as much as it may bother you. I have played horrible versions of games I adore, like Fallout New Vegas on PS4 which was practically broken, didn’t bother me. So what might be an intolerable issue for you is a minor speed bump for me.

What I don’t know is where do I start, the bad or the good... let’s do bad and get it out of the way. Let’s get the common complaints out of the way, there are plenty of YouTube videos of hilarious bugs and rants detailing bugs which you may view at any time. Yes this game is buggy even after patches and even on the PC version. I have seen characters get stuck in walls, I have seen AI driven cars crash into barriers, HUD elements randomly get stuck on the screen, and the worst of it quest lines getting stuck where a restart is the only way to continue. These issues seemed to get worse the longer I played, I did have to restart the game a good 20 times because of game stopping bugs, luckily the game auto saves constantly so it’s rare I lost lots of progress though it’s still very inconvenient. If bugs like these bother you stay away for the time being.

A larger concern is this facade of an open world GTA style game they created to house the core gameplay and story of Cyberpunk. All of the game’s media would immediately make the viewer think it looks like a futuristic GTA, you can rob cars, there is a wanted meter and so on. Well that is all BROKEN GARBAGE. The wanted meter results in police being spawned out of thin air all around you immediately firing from all sides. Attempt to barricade in a nearby store, doesn’t matter they will just spawn behind you. To escape the wanted meter you would think there would be an epic chase to escape police cars and helicopters... nope, the AI CANNOT CHASE YOU. There are no non scripted car chases in this game. All you need to do is hop in a car and drive three blocks, yes three simple blocks and the entire police force will forget you ever existed even though you might have murdered multiple officers. None of the games missions ever use the wanted meter or the open world as a mechanic because it’s there to look like it functions when it does not.

Now the worst of the major offenses in Cyberpunk is how the stats and difficulty are kind of broken. Here I was playing a good 40 hours and it felt like my character was properly growing, areas of the map remained dangerous to explore as there were much higher leveled enemies. Areas that were previously perilous became accessible as I was clearly making progress in leveling up. Loot falls like candy during every battle, the constant game of keeping your character maxed out can be time consuming but it’s a key element for any RPG. Then at some point about 50 hours in I started to notice everyone was nearly one shotting me, at first I figured I was in a tough area but it was always the same amount of damage no matter what weapon or enemy I was battling. This went on for hours, I could not ignore it any longer  something was wrong.  So I began to experiment, I ran into a battle naked, dick swinging in the wind, nothing changed. My armor stat was broken, not only that, every enemy was basically stuck at the same difficulty level. I did some research online and discovered many with the same issues and concluded that many of the game’s armor mods and upgrades are bugged essentially  breaking the stat system. I was able to throw away any clothes I had with those mods and sort of got back to a game where the armor stat made somewhat of a difference at least.

After that realization I questioned everything, are the other stats working? NOPE. Critical hits, damage stats and more were doing nothing, just fake numbers that maybe worked at some point but ceased to for some unknown reason. Once again the source of the glitch seemed to be glitched weapon mods and even core character upgrades which involve critical % that don’t stack with the weapon mod. instead of just canceling out the the second stacked mod it breaks the entire stat system. So to summarize, Cyberpunk 2077 is an RPG where the stats don’t work. At this point I don’t blame any of you for thinking I can’t play this broken mess of a game, any one of these major issues I addressed maybe a cardinal sin for you and that’s understandable. For me I just took it in stride and powered along.

So why did I enjoy Cyberpunk, well for one it has all the same great writing, characters, and world building that made Witcher 3 so popular.  Night City is teaming with interesting storylines and memorable characters. I was in awe of the level of detail in different areas of the city, from seedy bars to lively clubs, rich high rises or dirty drug filled apartment buildings, Night city is extremely impressive. I was taken out of the illusion because the  NPCs are not really living a fake life, you will see them repeat lines and actions as if they are animatronics at Disney World. The game that was promised supposedly was supposed to have characters with day night cycles or even ones that react realistically to things you do, another failed promise. Night City is like a movie studio city which only looks good on the outside for the cameras but is hollow on the inside. I felt Witcher 3 was exactly the same way and yet everyone thought that game was perfect. why? Because the NPCs that were a part of the story all had memorable quests and Cyberpunk is just as good in that department.

CDPR are so great at making every quest not just an engaging story but using various methods of storytelling to flesh out the world around the player. Stuck on an elevator, well there is a tv playing the news where they maybe talking about the big mayoral elections about to take place and how heated the attacks by each candidate is getting. That may seem like background noise but later on in the game if you choose to do so there is a side quest where you are swept up in an engrossing almost spy thriller involving one of the candidates and their family. This isn’t some one off quests it’s a multi quest storyline that spans hours and introduces even more characters that have their own quest lines and stories.

Quests are everywhere scattered all around the map noted with an icon or at times an NPC will call you directly. This is one area I miss from Witcher 3, the world exploration naturally lead the player to discover a quest; here there is rarely an actual discovery, almost everything is pre marked on the map and with fast travel or vehicles to get around it doesn’t feel like you are on a quest of discovery but just doing errands in a city, which to be fair you are. Still the excitement of never knowing what crazy adventure you will go on next makes exploring the side quests the best part of the game.

I loved the variety in storylines that I would come upon. From an AI that runs a taxi cab service to a former murderer that wants to televise his crucifixion, or a vending machine that becomes sentient, there was always something interesting happening. It’s hard not to love the core companion characters which can become love interests, Judy, Panam and River who all have massive multi quest storylines with choices that can change not only your relationship with them but their relationship with others. These choices lead to a new potential ending. It’s CDPR at their best really delving deep into these three diverse characters with rich backstories and compelling conundrums where the choices aren’t morally clear and can drastically change V’s relationship with each. Also you may get to blow shit up in a tank with them, so that’s fun too. I don’t want to spoil any specific moments but all three had moments where I would get gut punched emotionally at the storyline they were involved in. Panam ended up as my woman but I would still kill for Judy and River is my bro for life.  None of these are the main missions, I haven’t even mentioned the star of the show, Keanu Reeves.

The main story revolves around V who is basically a douchebag with good heart (well if you choose) and begins the game with a choice of one of three origin stories (doesn’t really matter) and ends up with a one of a kind chip in his brain that contains the AI construct of a long dead rock singing superstar turned corporate terrorist, Johnny Silverhand. Keanu’s Silverhand takes a while to get used to, at first I thought holy shit Keanu is just phoning this in. He uses some weird kind of Nic Cage tone, it doesn’t seem sincere but as the game goes on and you really get to know this character and I understood what he was going for. I loved Keanu’s performance by the end, one of many great performance scattered throughout the game. The back and forth between V and Johnny is often times funny and surprisingly becomes emotional, well as emotional as a hitman and a cocky as shit dead singer can be.

While I think the side quests do have the best plot lines, the main quest in Cyberpunk has some really great moments. Clocking in around 18 hours its short for an open world title but that allows the story to be much tighter than say Witcher 3.  Choices are always a big part of CDPR games and you have some to make throughout but by the end every player reaches a final moment where there are up to three distinct final missions. Depending on your actions throughout the game you may have less missions to pick or they can include different characters but it always ends with the choice. I played all three endings and I was surprised to see how different the final mission can play out. It always leads to the same final boss (which was so easy it was basically broken for me) but then you get a totally different epilogue, it’s worth checking out all three.

Most of night city is populated with bounties and a few side activities to do. Sadly there are basically no mini games, no fun diversions like how GTA has a ton of things to do, you would think the future could have allowed for a plethora of unique fun ideas but like most of the game outside the core quests it’s shallow or broken. One quest line is the classic racing circuit, I give it props for incorporating another good side story into the standard race to win side quest but the actual racing is straight booty as clearly the AI is not designed for racing. There is a street fighting quest line that completely glitched on me which made every fight impossible. The meat and potatoes of the game world are the fixer mini quests which serve as one off jobs for a quick buck. Each city area is run by a different fixer and they each have a ton of jobs to complete, almost all involve “go there and kill this person” or “go there steal this”. Now these don’t really need to have any story to go with them but while it’s not a true side quest they do usually have in game files or environmental clues that shed light on a situation that leads to V needing to be called to kill someone. These missions also serve as an excuse to explore many different locations around the city, doesn’t matter if it’s used in a major main quest or a small job the detail in Night City astounds me.

This is probably the longest I’ve gone in any review before actually getting into the core gameplay mechanics, which for me I greatly enjoyed. Cyberpunk is basically an open world Deus Ex style game where quests almost always lead to some base or location with a bunch of enemies and some cameras/turrets laid out in different ways allowing you to tackle the small base any way you want.

Here is where Cyberpunk shines (and also breaks after some time), leveling up can lead to unique specific builds that play rather differently. The skill tree is pretty massive, there is no way to be the god of all things, you can’t max out every perk. So I decided to focus on mind hacking and melee so that I can be a a head exploding super ninja. I started off with basic skills like making enemies hear something to distract them, or giving a guy a small shock. By the end of the game I was a dark Phoenix level mind fucker, I could stroll into a room and have 3 guys heads explode, cause half the enemies to turn on each other, and infect everyone else with a poison that slowly kills them all without raising a gun. The problem as with nearly every RPG the difficulty breaks as who the hell is going to stop me. There are net runner enemies that have mind hacks of their own but this sort of hacking duel only takes place a few times and is only a threat in the middle of the game when you are still building your character, by the end nothing was a threat to me.

That end though came after over 80 hours of playtime and in those 80 hours I loved building my character up. The mind hacking could get too easy so I would purposefully mix up my combat strategies. Cyberpunk has solid gunplay, it’s not great but works as intended and some of the futuristic guns have cool perks that make the fights unique. One augmentation V can make is to use smart weapons, these are auto lock on weapons. Simply aim in the general direction of enemies and watch those bullets travel up and around cover right into their heads. Cool thing is enemies can have those weapons too, nothing makes you run around more than realizing bullets are going around the cover you are behind. Some augments allow you to slow down time, my favorite let’s you double jump which when combined with increased speed and a katana sword turns me into a head chopping Mario. Some guns let you power them up and shoot through any wall. Enemies will react accordingly, limbs will fly off, weapons will be dropped,  and heads will explode in a fountain of blood. Battles can be a beautiful chaotic rush, or you can be methodical and careful, the choice is yours.

Yes the encounters can get repetitive, there are just so many variations in level layouts and enemy placements that can be designed for play over 100 hours. Even with that sense of  familiarity I still I had fun doing every mission. Some missions require stealth and no kills, a problem for my V as I basically never touched the stealth skill tree. Instead I used my mind hacking to blind enemies, hack into cameras and plan my route through the level quietly. This game will not win any awards for AI, all to often the guard that is in your path just so happens to always turn around conveniently to give you a window to stealth kill, but hey it’s still damn satisfying to get through a max security night club undetected and assassinate the owner in his sky box and leave with no one noticing.  Early on a mission as what I just described would take patience and smart play, but by the end of the game I could stand at the center of the club, look up and  see the owner through a wall and blow his head off with my mind, walking away while never bothering to infiltrate. That’s the beauty of the power scaling, it matters and feels like it’s not just a stat increase but actual skills that make you a better conductor of the action. Also remember the stats are basically broken so thank god a lot of these skills are fun to mess around with.

I love games with combat freedom; you give me a wide range of toys , a group of guards and a nice level to mess around in and generally I can make my own fun for many hours on end. This is no MGSV, I don’t even think it’s in the same class as the new Deus Ex either but it sure as hell better than the repetitive combat of Witcher 3, which allowed almost no player freedom. I think for purists that go the crafting route and love to min/max stats this game will be a letdown (again stats are broken!). Players like me that just want a collection of deadly varied tools and skills to kill people will find plenty of fun to be had. Combine that with some of the best writing and storylines in gaming and you have the main reason why despite the mountains of problems Cyberpunk has it’s still a great impressive game.

Posted by Dvader Thu, 11 Feb 2021 03:07:36
Thu, 11 Feb 2021 12:55:16
This actually does seem something like I would enjoy playing one of these days. I can look past technical flaws if I'm enjoying everything else. Admittedly, these seem to be more than just your typical technical flaws, but when you're having fun you're having fun. And God knows we played plenty of crap in earlier times that was equally broken but was never even able to be patched.
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