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Review: Cyberpunk 2077 – PS5, PS4

The launch of Cyberpunk 2077 is yet another example of the vast difference between hype and reality. For eight years, gamers have been dreaming about a transcendent experience that would change the way we play video games. Or at the very least, as developer CD Projekt Red once explained it, a mature RPG for mature players. It’s no secret that the game as it stands now didn’t hit those marks. But it doesn’t have to be the best thing since Mario dropped into his first pipe for you to have fun in Night City. Is it worth playing now in its current state or is this a journey best left for 2078 at the earliest? Let’s find out.

I’m not going to waste your time talking about story arcs, gameplay mechanics, or the soundtrack at the top of this review. Oh, I’ll get there, but first, we’re going to talk about bugs, because depending on which system you’re playing this on, Cyberpunk 2077 has more bugs than a neglected trailer house down at the Shady Pines trailer park out on the edge of town. I played through the prologue on my PS4 and I currently have just shy of 25 hours on my PS5. On the latest gen PlayStation, Cyberpunk 2077 has been an absolute blast to play despite the myriad of problems. In 25 hours it has crashed 4 times sending me back to the start screen. All four times, restarting the game has taken me back to within seconds of where I left off. So not ideal, but it could be worse.  I’ve also seen numerous times where it takes a few seconds for objects on the screen to load. Signposts, cement barriers, and once or twice, a character’s face doesn’t load. That last one is unsettling, to say the least. And it is probably happening more than I’ve noticed, but it’s only been obvious a handful of times.

More noticeable is the trouble during conversations. A couple of times, I’ve experienced two characters speaking over each other during a conversation, making it impossible to follow along. It usually stops after a sentence or two, but it’s still frustrating. And one time I accidentally killed an honest, hardworking streetwalker who walked through my car while it was parked on the sidewalk. The problem was that she stopped walking and simply stood there while still “inside” of my car, so when I drove off it tore her apart. I’ve seen a lot of things in my time in Night City and I’m still thinking about this poor girl. There have been more instances like this but they come and go so fast, that they never take me out of the game.

I have played games much buggier than this. Including this very same game on the PS4. That’s right, it is no secret that Cyberpunk 2077 is currently in rough shape on the PS4. The most common and troublesome issue for me is the stuttering and freezing. Plus, the textures not fully loading in a normal amount of time is exponentially worse on the PS4. I’ve noticed on both consoles that the game doesn’t consistently register certain button commands either. Nothing supercritical here, but while driving, pressing the left directional button should change the view from first to third-person. It does eventually but only after pressing four or five times. It’s the same with the sliding button. While running, you can slide to a stop. It’s a useless mechanic that is only good for making you feel like a badass during combat, which is to say, it’s very important and something I use constantly. This sliding mechanic simply doesn’t work roughly a third of the time. These glitches and more plague both PlayStation consoles, but they haven’t detracted from my enjoyment of the newest gen version of the game. It’s totally worth playing now, but I don’t feel the same way about the PS4. If that is your only avenue to play the game, I would wait until it’s fixed. Whenever that will be. As always, your mileage may vary. Each person is different after all and has a different tolerance for such things.

Believe it or not, but there are players who are currently playing Cyberpunk 2077 on a base console that don’t hate it. I’m not one of them, but my son is.  He has just under 20 hours on a base PS4, and he loves it. He admits, however, that he has a high tolerance for dealing with less than ideal situations, which I took as not-so-subtle shade directed at my parenting. I’m not condoning CD Projekt Red releasing a game that wasn’t ready, and it wasn’t, but I can say plenty of gamers will be able to enjoy the hell out of the game right now, warts and all. But others won’t, and that’s completely valid. You probably know what kind of person you are so I’d suggest acting accordingly. If you’re not sure, waiting a few more months won’t kill you. You’ve waited 8 years, what’s a few more months.

With that behind us, let’s talk about the game. At the start, you’ll need to choose your character’s back story from three different options: Nomad, Streetkid, or Corpo. These options will change your story, most significantly the long prologue portion of the game. I chose the Streetkid, but if I play it again, I’d go with the Nomad. After this, you’ll have a robust character creator that has all of the options you’ve come to expect of the genre, plus a few awkward additions. I’m happy to say that you’re days of playing with the wrong areola size are finally over. I don’t think it’s “The Mature RPG” that we heard about all of those years back. It is, however, an RPG with adult themes, a well-written story, some razor-sharp dialogue that is expertly delivered by some talented actors, Including one Keanu Reeves. Some of his lines are a little flat but that is kind of his style, and we all love him despite that. Or maybe because of it? If you’re following along with the subtitles, you can skip the acting to move along the action but I rarely did because it was done so well. Plus the ability to keep control of my character during the dialogue kept me entertained and busy during stretches where I would have begged to speed up the action in lesser games. The depth and excellent delivery of the story made the glitches during these sections even harder to swallow, though.

Speaking of story, I’m gonna keep this simple, but you play as V, a cybernetically enhanced urban mercenary. Most of the game takes place inside the heart of Night City where greed, indulgence, and violence are the blood that keeps it pumping. V is looking to make his mark in the world and leave a legacy that will last forever. Or maybe he just wants to actually live forever? It’s a fun story with some great moments. It starts out a little slow and made me feel like I did watching the first few episodes of Game of Thrones. I didn’t know who was who and had no idea what anybody was talking about most of the time, but I couldn’t wait to tune in next week.

The gameplay is what you’d expect for an open-world action-adventure game in 2020. The beautifully crafted world of Night City is bustling with work for a low-life cyberpunk with a heart o’ gold. These side missions will keep you busy for days. On the flip side, the main story can be completed in under thirty hours, but the side missions aren’t just time fillers. Well, some of them are, of course, but plenty of them give real depth to the main cast of the story and some of the bit players too. The graphics won’t blow you away, but on the PS5 they look very good, and the cyberpunk visuals that manage to look futuristic and vintage at the same time make me smile. I’ve always loved the 80’s vision of the future. Where the weirdos are the people who don’t dress like Billy Idol instead of the other way around. The soundtrack in the game is mostly tailormade as you can pick the radio station in each vehicle, but when you aren’t racing around the city, the music is a mix of electronic, metal, alternative, and hip hop that fits just fine with the cyberpunk theme.

Most of the combat revolves around gunplay which makes my itchy trigger finger even itcher than normal. You can play it stealthily, which is fun too, but when things go sideways, and they will, the gunplay is quite satisfying. Besides the guns and the myriad of attachments and grenades, you can use your cybernetic upgrades during combat as well. You’ll be scanning the urban battlefield with your billion-dollar eye, overriding security cameras, hacking vending machines to distract your enemies, frying the bad guy’s cybernetic brains, or simply blowing stuff up. Whichever playstyle you prefer, there is a beefy skill tree that you’ll need to upgrade as you go.

When you’re out and about trying to get from one place to the next, it feels more like Grand Theft Auto than it does Fallout. Driving around Night City in a stolen car or a cool motorcycle is always a good time, although not being able to do a wheelie on the motorcycle is a massive misstep. The driving is pretty arcadey and on the easy side. It rarely gives that sense that you are completely out of control and the next red light you run may be your last. But it’s still fun. You can fast travel if you want to, but honestly, it felt like an insult to the city. I usually chose to drive because it was so fun and cool to look at. As long as you don’t look too close. Night City is a little cold and doesn’t consistently feel as alive as some other open-world games. The NPC’s that you speak with will largely greet you with disdain and the same few lines of dialogue. Mainly, “Eff off”. That is probably realistic for a place so far gone, but it doesn’t beg the player to mingle with the city folk.

There is a ton going on here including crafting, hacking, brain dances, and more and most of it is really cool. It didn’t revolutionize the genre, but it did manage to squeeze its cyberpunk’d ass onto my top ten list for the year. Seriously, if you have a PS5 and you like the sound of Fallout mixed with Grand Theft Auto and a pinch of Fight Club then I think you’ll like it too. It’s not perfect and the glitches are no joke, especially on the PS4, but if you have a next-gen system and you’ve been waiting to play this since “Call me maybe” was still on the radio, then I suggest you dive in. Besides, if we ever make it to 2077, (big if) you know it’s going to be glitchy as hell. Might as well get used to it.

Cyberpunk 2077 PS5, PS4 Review
  • Overall - Very Good - 8.5/10
    8.5/10
8.5/10

Summary

Cyberpunk 2077 is a really good game that comes with an even bigger caveat. It’s a PS4 game that I can’t recommend unless you plan to play it on a PS5. But if you do own a PS5, I can’t recommend it highly enough. The most frustrating part of the disastrous launch is that it could have been easily avoided if they had made a few more tough choices. One can only assume that they decided not to postpone the release again because it would hurt their bottom line, which makes this all so ironic, considering the game takes place in a world where unchecked capitalism has been left to fester and corrupt everything from the inside out.

Pros

  • Fun gameplay loop and mash-up of genres
  • Good story with excellent writing and voice acting
  • Keanu Reeves
  • High replayability with up to five endings and three unique character backgrounds

Cons

  • It’s buggy if you haven’t heard
  • It’s not overly original
  • It’s a ps4 game that probably should only be played on a PS5


Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy

Version tested: PS4. Reviewed using PS5 and PS4 Slim.

Cyberpunk 2077 PS5, PS4 Review
  • Overall - Very Good - 8.5/10
    8.5/10
8.5/10

Summary

Cyberpunk 2077 is a really good game that comes with an even bigger caveat. It’s a PS4 game that I can’t recommend unless you plan to play it on a PS5. But if you do own a PS5, I can’t recommend it highly enough. The most frustrating part of the disastrous launch is that it could have been easily avoided if they had made a few more tough choices. One can only assume that they decided not to postpone the release again because it would hurt their bottom line, which makes this all so ironic, considering the game takes place in a world where unchecked capitalism has been left to fester and corrupt everything from the inside out.

Pros

  • Fun gameplay loop and mash-up of genres
  • Good story with excellent writing and voice acting
  • Keanu Reeves
  • High replayability with up to five endings and three unique character backgrounds

Cons

  • It’s buggy if you haven’t heard
  • It’s not overly original
  • It’s a ps4 game that probably should only be played on a PS5

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