Published on December 21st, 2020 | by Daniel
Cyberpunk 2077 Review – Night City or Nothin!
Summary: Cyberpunk gets a lot of hate for it's development process. But it's truly a stellar game with some release bugs. It just needs a little spit and polish.
Welcome to Cyberpunk 2077 and welcome to Night City, a city that never sleeps. Located in the free state of Northern California. A metropolis of blinding lights and loud music. Where everybody can by anything their heart desires. Where everyone has a skeleton or two in the closet. On the corner of every street, a deal is made or broken, around every corner is a new gig for a street thug, a new piece of iron, a new layer of chrome.
You are V, in the world of Cyberpunk 2077, your path is your own. Were you a Street Kid? Dealing with gangs, fixers, dolls and small time pushers? Were you a Nomad? Roaming the Badlands, looting scrapyards, raiding fuel deposits, growing up in a clan where family and freedom were paramount? Or were you a Corporate? Bending rules, exploiting secrets and weaponising information? The choice is yours, but V is an upcoming merc for hire, trying to make it to the big leagues in Night City.
Cyberpunk 2077 is like an undercooked steak. It looks right on the outside and the initial taste leaves you salivating for more. But a mouthful or two in and you start to realise, something is not quite right.
Cyberpunk’s core gameplay plays similarly to how Destiny 2 does. Or rather, Destiny 2 should take some freaking notes, because this is how Destiny 2 should feel, fast paced, tactical, explosive and relentless. Where the AI actually try to encircle you, chase you down, or make you think tactical and stealth.
The gear system is mostly a joke and probably only matters on difficulties higher than medium, which I honestly should’ve tried out before cementing myself in the mediocrity of medium. I was barely challenged by the AI and my deaths were more due to stupid moments wherein I accidentally killed myself, was killed by a glitch, or I got taken out because I forgot to heal and there was a sneaky sniper that I forgot to watch out for. But at least the AI tries. The same can’t always be said about it’s rivals.
The only things I noted of worth were the weapons. There’s plenty to choose from in Cyberpunk and their varieties within. Within each category; Pricision, Sniper, Sub-Machine, Revolver, Pistol, Rifle etc, there are Tech, Smart or Power versions. All types behave very differently. Power weapons are essentially, kinetic, or ballistic, where bullets will ricochet off certain surfaces. Tech weapons are like energy based. These weapons can be charged with devastating effects. Smart weapon are ballistic in nature, but their projectiles home in on targets within the range finder of the weapon. They also require a smart link to use.
Then there are melee weapons. These are far simpler to categorise. Blunt and Lethal. Blunt weapons, like baseball bats, are non lethal and will not kill. These are handy for anyone going for a no kills run. Lethal weapons are anything with a blade, knives, katanas, you name it. These are fast and hit hard. I noticed that blunt weapons tend to have more base power, likely because of their no lethal status. But both of these require you to be in close range to utilise their incredible power.
Lastly, Cyberpunk has cybernetics. Go figure right? Who knew. Cybernetic weapons are; Gorilla arms, for the brawler within. Monowire, is like a charged whip from your wrist. Mantis blade, for the inner Jack the Ripper within. Projectile System Launcher, which turns your arm into an Iron Man inspired rocket launcher. All of these are great options and depend wholly on your play style. Since I normally like to fight at range, I went with the launcher. Even still, I absolutely recommend getting the Gorilla Arms for a side quest you’ll gain access to early on in the game.
The three life paths to choose from, Nomad, Street Kid and Corporate. Have very little affect on the game and don’t really serve enough backstory of the player to invest in. It does little more than affect how you meet Jackie and comes up in dialogue options once in a blue moon. This in itself, only adding some more flavour text to the script. It doesn’t have any real impact on the game or your dialogue choices at all. So feel free to choose whatever you feel most akin to.
Cyberpunks RPG elements however is where the real flavour comes in. Dialogue options frequently pop up for body, cool, reflexes, intelligence and technical ability. These add some unique responses and can also end a fight before it even begins, with or without actual violence. Outside of combat there is an incredible amount of depth in the customising of your growth as you level. As you progress you’ll earn three types of progression, which grant access to better things along the way. Core levels, which you grant you attribute points, which you can dump into your core stats. This is what affects the dialogue options and also what perks are available to you at each attribute level.
Perk points, which you can dump into anything in any given attribute pool. Some effect how your weapons perform, others your base health and stamina and others will affect crafting. Path points, these are you reputation points. Corpo, Street or Nomad credit. These directly affect the how vendors work. As certain items can only be bought with enough reputation. The benefits are pretty self explanatory but the possibilities are practically endless.
You could make yourself a spongy, sniper focused one shot marksman, who can stealth his way through the tightest of strongholds. You could make yourself a walking tank that talks with his/her fists and can break open any door and crush any obstacle or foe in his/her way. Or you could make yourself a technical genius that could hack into the most secure cyberdecks or software systems and turn your enemies weapons against themselves or even just fry their brains. In Cyberpunk, you can literally be anything.
It’s easy to lose yourself in a sea of thrilling firefights and intense combat scenarios. So much so that it’s easy to forget that under all the brilliantly bright lights of Night City, Cyberpunk has an incredible, if fractured, story. For the record, I will not be mentioning any story related stuff, unless absolutely necessary. The game is still fresh and I don’t want to spoil anything if I can avoid it.
Cyberpunk’s prologue with Jackie, is definitely an underrated part of the game. And whilst I did a fair few of the sidequests before the main job, I wish I stopped to appreciate the friendship between V and Jackie. I personally, wish we could have done a few of the missions between the time skip from meeting Jackie to the big Heist mission plan. This would’ve forced the player to pay more attention to Jackie and their friendship with the player.
I’m not asking for all of that to happen, but maybe a few key missions where things weren’t always so easy or simple as shooting up a gang or stealing cars. But what we do get, is easily overlooked until you complete the Heist, and for anyone who’s already played past this point, knows what I mean. The subsequent scenes with his family, make you realise what a goldmine of character development you’ve just missed.
Cyberpunk does a great job on it’s supporting characters however. And doing the side quests is as meaty as the main story itself. If not, even more. The ups and downs you face with some of the characters, as they come to grips on who the are, where they stand and what they want to be. Is reflected and amplified by V’s own struggles with Johnny being in his head all the time and having an opinion on everything.
From dealing with death, to dealing with murder. From abuse, to psychological trauma. The game has an overarching tone that is very somber. Here is a city, thriving with life and survival of the fittest. Where the rich get richer, the poor fight for power under the heel of oppression, where the free live on the discarded scraps of the rich and powerful.
I found myself awed by the content in Cyberpunk. That I had totally glossed over the raw beauty of the story until the final mission where it all came to a head. It forced me to retrace my memory through the game and in the few short hours it took me from the point of no return, to the end of the game. I felt a wealth of emotion that I haven’t felt in a game for a long, long while.
Okay, now that some of the praise for Cyberpunk has been dished out, it’s time to shine a light on some of it’s misgivings and failures.
And there are quite a few in Cyberpunk. I had a relatively easy time of it, compared to some of the weird and whacky glitches I’ve seen online. I mostly, got shadow and location based glitches. Sometimes a character was perched in midair, instead of sitting on a chair, or car bonnet. Other times, cigarettes or guns would float in the air, or be in a locked animation, or be in a characters’ hand when they’d literally just stowed it. There was a frustrating glitch or two the kept happening to me directly.
Sometimes, if V was wearing a suit that covered all other gear, like a wetsuit or a hazmat suit. Their hair would be invisible in cutscenes, reflections, mirrors, in the gear menu and even so far as missing their entire head in their shadow. This wasn’t game breaking, but it did affect my immersion and distract from the mood of the moment. Other times, quest markers wouldn’t appear, or update correctly, doors wouldn’t open, or I’d get stuck on something and the floor would become lava for some strange reason and deal damage to me, before resetting.
Moments like these were easily fixed by reloading my most recent save and some of these were quite hilarious. But they did break the mood of some scenes and frustrate me on some occasions. And for a game like Cyberpunk, that has such a story to tell, it’s a little saddening.
This is a smaller issue and one that was somewhat fixed by constantly changing my graphical settings. I found that the faster I moved through the world of Cyberpunk, the harder the game had to work to keep up with me. Rendering was most apparent when driving at high speeds. Eventually, city blocks would struggle to load in time as you passed by. Causing moderate frame lag. Forcing me to drop from ultra settings to high or medium accordingly, just for the game to have less things to load in all the time. Just so I could get to the other side of the city. Yet other times it loaded just fine on ultra and for the most part, everything else ran smoothly on ultra.
There were sprite issues on the odd occasion too. When carrying the body of a fallen foe, sometimes the game couldn’t render them into the space you attempted to drop them into and would instead bounce them violently off into another spot where they could be rendered into. Leaving a pile of gore in the place you tried to drop them. Again, not game breaking, but definitely a buzz kill when when I’m being super serious and trying to stealth my way through an enemy stronghold.
Cyberpunk has some truly great graphics at times. The city can be gorgeous one moment, gritty the next and broken following that. It’s by far not the cleanest, crispest, smoothest game I’ve ever seen. Destiny 2 has better graphics, Doom Eternal has better graphics, Final Fantasy has better graphics. All polished and unique in the own way. Beautiful lighting effects, smooth edges and vibrant colours. All things that are apparent in Cyberpunk, but not living up to the potential I know they could’ve done.
I am however, generally content with the graphics as they are for the theme, they definitely suit the rawness of the city’s underbelly. A little bit of polish wouldn’t hurt however. The nicer, corporate sectors could really do with some polish.
Cyberpunk has a stellar audio range. Great acoustics. Great music. Great atmosphere. I just wish I could hear some of it. The in car radio is often too quiet and since you spend a lot of time in cars going from objective, to objective. It really makes its absence felt. Of course you could fast travel, but I honestly implore you not to. You miss our on a lot of conversational stuff when travelling between zones, only to be bombarded with it when you do load in and have to spend a few minutes going through it all.
There’s no menu options to change the volume levels of the in car radio either. For a AAA title like Cyberpunk, that’s an oversight I can’t excuse. I guess they probably didn’t want it to overpower the in car dialogue between V and his companions, but they could’ve had it auto adjust for moments like these. A triple A studio like CDPR should not have any trouble at all accomplishing this feat.
Oh but what a voice cast Cyberpunk has! Carla Tassara, who’s been in a number of games like NFS: Heat, Jedi: Fallen Order and Metal Gear Rising. Cherami Leigh, VA for female V, who’s been in Fire Emblem, WoW, FFVII Remake and more. Robbie Daymond, who was Prompto in FFXV, Goro in Persona V and Ghosts of Tsushima. Not least of all You’re Breathtaking man himself Keanu Reeves.
All of these actors give a stellar performance. Some of them cool, calm and collected leaders of a corporation. Some of them, sick, twisted and messed up gang members. Others, raw, emotional, sweet and caring. Each of them bring a unique experience and no two actors ever came across as clashing with one another.
From Johnny’s growth at the start of Cyberpunk as an arrogant, punk rocker douchebag, to someone who realises the value in humanity and not taking it for granted. To Panam and her rough demeanor with a wild untamable heart. To finally finding her grove and resolve to lead her clan. They all offer enlightenment to the player and enhance his/her own growth as they journey through Night City.
Final Thoughts on Cyberpunk 2077?
Cyberpunk, is a great game, a stellar game. Truly, there it is, I said it. Even with all its bugs and glitched. Was it rushed? Yes. Is it complete? No. Is it perfect? Absolutely not. Did the devs promise too much? I think they promised more than they could do in the time frame they gave themselves. I think they underestimated how big a project this was and how long it was likely to take.
With delay after delay, I think CDPR hoped for too much to start with. Or maybe, they set the bar too high for a crazy year like 2020. I would rather it have been delayed however much longer they needed to apply the polish to make it a superb game.
Cyberpunk is getting a lot of flack because it’s incomplete, when the devs said it would be. They had to crunch after all, despite saying they wouldn’t. And still, they couldn’t complete it in time. I got lucky, I didn’t experience the sheer game breaking bugs I know some of my friends did. On console and on PC. So I can kinda understand the hate. But at the same time, gamers can’t have their proverbial cake and eat it too.
Gamers complain about games not coming out fast enough and then complain more, when the devs rush to please fans and release the game faster, but releases incomplete. Like it’s completely the devs fault for doing this. The devs bear some blame yes, management definitely does. But we as players need to stow away our greed just a little bit.
I’m from a time when games came out every couple of years. Not every year, sometimes even less. I appreciate the love and care that goes into making a complete experience. And I’ll happily wait the extra time that takes. Because there are always other times to occupy my time.
Hell, I stuck with Hello Games, when they messed up No Man’s Sky, I stuck with them through the copious fixes and dlcs to make the game into what it is today. Yes they have a much smaller team than CDPR, but the same mechanic applies here. Patience is a virtue. An old, tired, overused saying. But one that ever holds true. Hey, I’m just as greedy to eat this stuff up as the rest of us are. Give them a break, they’re human too. Cyberpunk is truly a stellar game. I can’t wait to see how they improve it from here.
Game Genre – Action, RPG, Open World
Developers – CD Projekt Red
Rating – R18+
Year of Release – 2020
Platforms – Windows/Mac, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Google Stadia
Mode(s) of Play – Single
All footage used was of my own playthrough, you can find my other articles right here