Oh how the mighty have fallen.
“Oh how the mighty have fallen.”
After roughly nine years, almost a decade of development time, CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077 released across all platforms on Dec. 10, 2020. Following the overwhelmingly positive reception of the studio’s previous title, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, the anticipation surrounding Cyberpunk 2077 was colossal. This hype however, disadvantaged the game even before release. It was so built up that no game could ever satisfy the bloated expectations from fans of the studio’s former work. Gameplay shown by CD Projekt Red looked pristine and smooth, but extremely choreographed. The studio assured fans that the game would run well enough on last generation consoles (Playstation 4 and Xbox One), but on the day of release, buyers across all platforms were met with an unexpected and disappointing surprise.
The game is plagued with a vast array of bugs and glitches that break immersion significantly. The point of a role playing game (RPG) is for players to get lost in the world and its characters. On PC and next generation consoles (Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X), where the game runs best, glitches are still prevalent and spoil the experience. I played on my PC with an RTX 1060 graphics card and an Intel I7 processor, and the game was really quite unoptimized. In order to get a steady framerate I had to turn most graphical settings to medium or low. On last generation consoles, the game has been reported by many to be virtually unplayable. Frame rates reach as low as 10 during combat and textures take ages to load and look poor when they do. But enough about the broken state of the game. When it is at its best, how good is it?
Let us start with the best aspect of Cyberpunk 2077 by far, its world design. Night City, when it looks as it was intended to look, is beautiful and a joy to explore. Every nook and cranny is fine tuned with such a meticulous level of detail that the world comes alive as a result. The different districts of the city offer a strong sense of environmental variety that keep things fresh as V, the main character, takes jobs around Night City. When the visuals of this game are at their best, Night City is truly a marvel to behold.
The soundtrack and overall sound design of Cyberpunk 2077 is incredible as well. With every song in this game composed by CD Projekt Red themselves, the soundtrack offers a futuristic yet familiar tone that combines with the aesthetic of the city to fully immerse the player. The actors and actresses in the game are worth noting as well. Performances were fantastic across the board, each character bringing a unique background and motivation that the player comes to understand with the help of the game’s stellar writing.
Now, onto the negatives. The most underwhelming aspect of Cyberpunk 2077 has to be its combat. Shooting in this game feels clunky, and melee combat feels floaty. AI enemies are quite unintelligent and totally lacking in variety. Boss fights are a joke, as it typically comes down to whittling down a bullet sponge’s health bar while spamming the heal button when the player is hurt. While combat may only be one negative aspect when I mentioned several positive ones, it is a significant detriment to the experience, as a vast majority of the games missions involve combat.
What follows is my advice to anyone considering purchasing this title. If you own a Playstation 5, Xbox Series X, or a high end PC, the game is worth it, despite the glitches which will faze out with future patches. If all you own is a Playstation 4, Xbox One, or low end PC, you should wait until you either get a new console or until CD Projekt Red lives up to their promises to make the game satisfactory on last generation consoles. Buying the game is not even possible on the Playstation Store, as Sony pulled Cyberpunk 2077 from digital shelves. Let this be a lesson for game companies, that they should never release half-baked products with the expectation that previous goodwill with fans will make up for an abysmal experience.
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