Video game developer CD Projekt Red has finally released Cyberpunk 2077 after eight years of development! Years of teasers and trailers have finally climaxed to the release of arguably the most anticipated title of all time. With millions of pre-orders and global hype, what could possibly be wrong? Well, as it turns out, quite a lot. Regardless, Cyberpunk 2077 is defined by more than just its issues. Although its release leaves something to be desired, Cyberpunk was simply never destined to live up to the eight years of expectations that gamers had. Though imperfect, the game’s charm does shine through.
One of the biggest flaws that Cyberpunk has is its lackluster performance on lower-powered computers and all last generation consoles. Both the Xbox One and PS4 report having unacceptable performance and terrible LODs. Constant crashes and bugs prevent lower-powered setups from experiencing the game at ideal performance. Personally, running the game on an SSD using a 8GB RTX2080 and i7-9750H, I was able to run the game at 100+ fps constantly on the highest non-raytracing graphical setting. There are some rendering bugs that only appeared at the edges of my field of view, but these exist in many other open-world games as well. This performance issue that Cyberpunk has is dual-parted, with both CDPR and the consumers at fault. First, it is CDPR’s fault for allowing the game to be released on last generation consoles by even marketing the fact that it was playable on such hardware. The PS4 was not top of the line in terms of hardware six years ago. However, the players should not assume a six-year old computer setup would be able to run Cyberpunk, even if the setup was top-of-the-line back then, so perhaps they should have thought twice before running the game on their console. On higher performance rigs, the game runs smoothly, albeit with occasional physics engine bugs. The rest of this review will be based on my own experience which did not suffer from performance issues.
Cyberpunk 2077 is stunningly beautiful. From the detailed facades of the high-tech buildings to the intricate internals of the various firearms used in game, CDPR has created a game that is truly remarkable when performing at its best. The sheer number of polygons on a character’s face is incredible, light reflections bouncing realistically. Shadows are accurate, and god rays shine through broken glass and billowing curtains. Explosions and weapon fire is intensely radiant, reflecting off of all surfaces around it. Excluding Star Citizen, I have never experienced a game more immersive, and more gorgeous in it’s fidelity than Cyberpunk.
CDPR has truly gone the extra mile with the soundtrack of this game. From crafting hauntingly memorable tracks to highlight gameplay and traversal, to the third party songs created specifically for the game, such as “No Save Point” by Run the Jewels, and “Gr4ves by Konrad Oldmoney, which make the world audibly come alive. Every track has the Cyberpunk feel, and fits perfectly into the dark world that CDPR has created. However, the developers also give special attention to the usage of silence. Important scenes and climactic moments have no music to allow the player to truly soak in the atmosphere of the events taking place. Effects are also extremely well made. Each step is accurate to the material beneath the character’s feet. Each gunshot echoes through the surrounding area, and each sword swing is savage and precise. The sights and sounds of Night City have been truly well crafted, and Cyberpunk benefits greatly from these features.
Cyberpunk tells the story of V, a mercenary who has been given the digital engram of Johnny Silverhand, a rockerboy from an age-long past. Together, these two search for a way to save V’s life and fight against the corporations that rule over Night City. Cyberpunk is an action adventure game, as opposed to a role-playing game. This means that though your actions do hold weight, they are less integral to the game. The core story of Cyberpunk is fantastic. Characters feel alive and living in the world, with suitable interactions with others. Upon a second playthrough, players will notice story details that tie in later such as key characters being around each other before they will officially meet. V’s character changes from a brash, selfish mercenary that shoots before he thinks to an almost heroic individual who puts his friends before himself. The supporting characters shine through as one of the highlights of the game, each of their storylines taking up a large portion of the game: whether it is the blunt and protective Panam, or the lovable and relatable Jackie, to even Johnny himself, who guides you through the game as a sarcastic yet charming voice in your head. Side quests in this game sometimes sprawl into entire storylines, each as in-depth and thought-provoking as the main story. What you do in the game will have an affect on the ending by changing the options you have. Romance options also feel organic and natural, as opposed to the forced awkward interactions that other games have. CDPR has always been known to deliver charming and engaging stories, and they have more than exceeded themselves this time.
Cyberpunk is a first-person shooter at its core, which means the emphasis is on combat and firearms usage. The armory that V has access to is immense, from powerful slug guns to the high-tech smart guns that home in on targets. Gunplay feels nice and responsive, but enemies feel very bullet spongy in the early levels. Though shooting is by far the most direct action that the player can take, there are more subtle options. The player has access to a stealth system where they can take out entire squads of enemies without making a sound, or hack into the surrounding tech and cause chaos. There are also looter shooter elements to the game, which both hinder and bolster the game. It stops players from keeping with a weapon, even if it’s their favorite, because it simply gets outclassed by better weapons, but also promotes variety in the player’s gameplay. The crafting system is barebones but works well for the purpose it serves. Nearing the end of the experience, I found myself severely overpowered. I had completed all the side quests and all the various police encounters in the game, and, as a result, I was far higher in level than I should have been. The ending mission, which should have been tense, was trivialized when I immediately killed every enemy in the vicinity. The gameplay of Cyberpunk isn’t very innovative, but it suits the purpose of selling the story, which it does well.
Cyberpunk 2077 isn’t perfect by any means, but its charm is shown only to those that play the game for the right reasons (with a strong PC). The game excels heavily at the aspects that CDPR has been known to nail, but struggles with issues in gameplay and performance. I enjoyed my time with the game, and eagerly await the first DLC coming in early 2021.I’m sure the wait will be worth it. 8/10
Photo credit: Brian Wu