Cyberpunk 2077 – Greatness Marred by a lack of Polish

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Cyberpunk 2077 box art

Released on: December 10th 2020

Available Platforms: PC (Steam, Epic Game Store, GOG.com), Playstation 4 (removed from the Playstation Store), XBOX One

Price: $79.99 CDN ($59.99 US)

Developed by: CD Projekt Red Published by: CD Projekt Red

It’s time to travel back in time, to 2013, to be precise. CD Projekt Red released The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings a few years prior, and the game got some worthwhile praise. They announce a Blade Runner looking game, where players can be who they want in a twistedly corrupt city: Cyberpunk 2077. Fast forward to 2015 and, at this time, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was out. The Witcher 3 not only surpassed the high bar that The Witcher 2 set, but it grabbed the gaming community’s attention as a whole. At this time, details were emerging regarding Cyberpunk 2077, but nothing as substantial as 2018.

E3 2018 (The Electronic Entertainment Expo), CD Projekt Red shows off the current trailer to Cyberpunk 2077. The game looked phenomenal, and we were getting gameplay details. We got a release date at E3 2019, April 16th, 2020. It seemed like it took forever, but we got a release date. It is now 2020 in our story, and the game gets delayed until September 17th, then November 19th, then, finally, to the actual release date of December 10th.

I got swept up by the hype when a coworker gave me the details of the latest announcement at the time. It piqued my interest; thus, I started following Cyberpunk 2077’s development. I forgot about the game until the day before release (something I realized I did a lot this year.) I decided to take the plunge on PC since that is currently the highest performing piece of tech I own at the moment. Was the eight-year wait for Cyberpunk 2077 worth it?

Cyberpunk 2077 title screen

In Cyberpunk 2077, the player takes control of V in one of three different scenarios. Depending on which one the player chooses will decide V’s background. For the sake of the review, I chose the Nomad background. The Nomad storyline places V in a garage getting their car repaired. Before they get a chance to set off on the open road to Night City, they meet with Jackie to smuggle a container into Night City. Once inside, V gets roped into a grand heist that they barely escape. V discovers the heist was to steal a mysterious chip that contains the soul of a dead rock star. Time is ticking; V must find a way to remove that chip before it kills them.

It is tough to write out the story without spoiling too much, but it is worth experiencing and is one of Cyberpunk 2077’s stronger points. I felt invested in the game’s story, from the start, to where I am currently. It was hard to walk away from Cyberpunk 2077 the first time I booted up the game.

I found CyberPunk 2077’s graphics to be a mixed bag. Let’s talk about the good first. Night City is gorgeous; it is precisely what I imagine a giant, colorful, Blade Runner-esque city to be. Select areas of the game make me want to stop and take pictures. Luckily, the game has a picture mode to do just that. While I didn’t abuse Cyberpunk 2077’s picture mode as much as Ghost of Tsushima, I did take a few noteworthy pictures of my time in Night City.

Cyberpunk 2077 Night City
Scenes like these are where Cyberpunk 2077’s art style shines.

My favorite aspect of Cyberpunk 2077 is the character building. When creating a new character, the player can give attribute points to their character to provide them with an initial idea of what kind of character they want to play. Those that plan on hacking signs, people, and vending machines will do well to maximize their Technical Ability stat. More of a melee fighter? Body is where their focus should lie. Cyberpunk 2077 also gives the player the option to choose their background, affecting the beginning and ending of Cyberpunk 2077.

Cyberpunk 2077 Character stats
Planning out my character build is always a treat for me.

Performing specific actions, like hacking, using swords, and sneaking, will earn experience points in those specific skills. Leveling up those skills will grant the player Perk points to spend on any skill (not necessarily the skill that leveled up). Defeating enemies and completing quests will level up V, which gives them additional attribute points that they can assign anywhere they wish. I love this, as it provides the player with the chance to build their perfect version of V over time.

The gameplay is adequate when it works. Those who played games like Skyrim, Fallout 3, New Vegas, and Fallout 4 will find similarities between those and Cyberpunk 2077. The major difference, being that the player can hack the prosthetics of their enemies. Doing this, V can inflict specific ailments on the enemy, like making them temporarily blind or inflicting burns that damage them over time.

The player can sneak, dodge, and parry. If the player can get close to the enemy without them noticing, they can kill or incapacitate the enemy. The player must then find a place to hide the body, lest they alert the other foes. The player can dodge by pressing any direction twice (on PC, W, A, S, or D twice). Dodging is clunky; I find myself accidentally dodging while adjusting my position, which can land the player in hot water. Finally, there’s parrying. Blocking moments before the enemy’s attack lands will cause the player to negate the enemy’s attack and counter with their own.

While there is an evident lack of polish, Cyberpunk 2077’s gameplay is solid. Sneak-killing enemies is always fun, and the parry option with melee weapons is a nice touch. I did find myself gravitating towards my sword since its power attack was enough to kill most enemies in one hit. Hacking ATMs is satisfying and is a great way to make money early on in the game.

Now… for the bad…

Earlier I mentioned the game had a lack of polish. That is an understatement. For full disclosure, I played the PC version, which happens to be the best version of Cyberpunk 2077 out right now. After leaving the starting garage, the first person I saw was a man just sitting, in the air, in the middle of the road. He acted like he was sitting on the bench, but he glitched, and I found him sitting on nothing. I’ve seen many people report bugs, such as the player’s clothes disappearing, players falling through the floor, etc.

Floating man
Ah yes, this town’s famous “man sitting in mid-air” man!

As for the console versions, they have it rough. I’ve seen footage of the Playstation 4 version looking like Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, a game that came out in 2002. Whatsmore, the game is locked at thirty frames per second in ideal, non-busy scenarios. When it is busy, I’ve seen it dip into the single digits, making the game look disgusting.

This is my own personal gripe, but Cyberpunk 2077 failed to keep my interest. It might be because I don’t have as much time to dedicate to open-world games anymore, but I never feel compelled to play Cyberpunk 2077 as much as I did the first few times I booted up the game. It could be the glitches, the lack of technical polish, or even the lack of immersive gameplay elements, but I feel Cyberpunk 2077 is missing something to make it truly stand out.

Floating phone
I wish I could telepathically hold my phone like that…

It’s a shame that the bugs, the console ports, and the lack of technical polish hold Cyberpunk 2077 as much as it is. Underneath all that mess is a fantastic game. Sadly, I feel it’s too little, too late for me. For those who haven’t bought Cyberpunk 2077 yet, I would recommend waiting for significant game fixes or wait for a sale.

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