Over that last few years I can not think of a single AAA title that was released 100% complete or didn’t require a Day 0 or Day 1 patch. Every large franchise has suffered from this problem dating back to when games were mostly sold as hard copies. A prime example of a company releasing a broken, unplayable game happened in November of 2020. CD Projekt Red released the long awaited Cyberpunk 2077 to hopeful gamers, who ultimately were disappointed.
Cyberpunk 2077 is a futuristic RPG that takes place in Night City – a city divided by money, technology, and crime. You play as V, a highly customizable mercenary. Travel through the criminal underworld, expose corporate secrets, befriend local ripper docs, upgrade your cybernetics, and hopefully retire in style. Engage in all forms of combat as well as hacking to achieve your objectives.
The game launched on Playstation, Xbox, Stadia, and Windows with a myriad of problems. Dropped frame rates, poor in game mechanics such as driving, and also just random game crashes. It prompted Sony to remove the game from their online store, customers getting refunds, and even lawsuits against the publisher. For over a year there have been patches and fixes to try and correct the problems with gameplay with varying success. Most recently they have released patch 1.5 and brought the game to next generation consoles. This is the version that I am playing on Xbox Series X, and the review is based solely on this.
Let’s get the givens out of the way first. There is a deep story with an amazing narrative here. Interesting characters, a lot of customization, hours of game play through the main story and side missions. The game also boasts a very in-depth upgrade system that allows you to build your character to fight the way you do. Stealth, hacking, close combat, melee weapons, and of course guns. The core gameplay is rock solid.
The graphics in the title are beautiful. It does not matter if you are standing still looking at the city scape or driving at breakneck speeds through the wastelands. Even in densely animated areas there is little impact on the framerate. After over 20 hours of game play, I have only encountered 2, very slight instances of dropped frames. Both times I was engaged in combat against multiple enemies with about half a dozen thinks exploding around me. Even with this slight issue the game flow was not affected. This is extremely important in a game where you are involved in intense fights, and timing is important.
Combat is something that you can once again make very personal. You have the option to stealth around and take you opponents by surprise or let your bullets fly and inflict maximum damage. And of course there is a wide variety of weapons at your disposal. Don’t like up close and personal, become a sniper. Want to see bodies turn into a pink mist, grab your double barrel shot gun. Machetes and katanas are even up for grabs. If you want a melee weapon and don’t want to carry it around, go for the cybernetic upgrade that allows you to whip wires from your hands. I was all about the smart pistols untill I got this upgrade, then I don’t think I fired another bullet.
While there are a lot of fast travel points in the game, the most common mode of transportation is to drive. You can buy just about any vehicle in the game, and the ones you can’t buy can easily be stolen. Driving is fairly simple and straight forward, and the ability to change through multiple camera angles means that you can pick what works best for you. Unfortunately, the handling of the vehicles is akin to driving on a sheet of ice with bald tires. Every time you try to make a turn at speed your car, or motorcycle, the back end will fish tail on you. If you hit the brakes too hard while making a turn, you will snap to a 90 degree angle in the direction you turned. This tends to be more frustrating than game breaking.
The soundtrack is top notch. Not only does the music set the mood in every scene but the voice acting makes you feel like you are in the story. Unlike a lot of games, the voice actors truly get into their roles and exude real emotions. A fair amount of the dialogue is in different languages, but with the constant captioned translation, you won’t miss any of it. Each character deftly makes their presence known through their speech. From tweakers to the top echelons of business, the speech mirrors the position.
One thing that can be daunting is the scale of the game. As you are moving around the city, your phone will beep quite a bit to notify you of new jobs. You can ignore it, but then you end up spending 20 minutes going back and reading all the messages you received and trying to decide which mission to do next. This is also how you get notified of new cars and apartments that are for sale. It seems in the future we are even more connected to our electronics than we are now.
Cyberpunk 2077 is out now on PC, Xbox, and Playstation. Patch 1.5 on next gen consoles delivers on the prerelease promises of the game. If you are looking for a new world to get lost in, and are not easily offended, this title is worth giving a look. Believe that this game lives up to its Mature game rating with an open mind toward sexuality and a firm grasp of profanity. This title is a reason to upgrade to the newest generation of consoles.