Cyberpunk 2077 - Review
Cyberpunk 2077, transformed our ideas about the possibilities of video games both in terms of technology development and the presentation of the plot in the RPG genre. At first glance, seems like a bizarre, fantastic dystopia, but in fact it is much closer to the realities of today than we suspect.
The original Board game, invented by Mike Pondsmith in 1990, told about the unsightly world of the future, where power was seized by competing private corporations that absorbed all spheres of society for personal gain. Under the dome of cynical monopolies, people began to divide into small classes, communes, groups and gangs. Law and order have sunk into oblivion. In addition, man became a slave to high technology and forever changed his body by implanting cybernetic implants and chips, thereby giving his mind into the clutches of artificial intelligence. CD Projekt RED develops Pondsmith's achievements with great respect, expanding the ENT of the "Cyberpunk" universe and adapting it to the needs of a huge RPG game.
Following the most progressive trends of the modern world, in the character editor we are allowed to create absolutely anyone, but not a man or a woman. The gender attribute is now abolished, and instead a variety of gender properties are given to choose from, from the voice to the genitals, which can be mixed together in an arbitrary manner. Thus, no one bothers to make a pumped-up, bearded lout with a vagina between his legs or a gentle creature with a fragile female figure, a harsh low bass and a long dignity - any whim for your money, including a curly groin haircut. At the same time, the choice of personal characteristics of the character at first glance is very limited - three options for the backstory: nomad, street child, corporate and a standard set of skills like strength, reaction, ability to handle equipment and so on. It should be clarified that the selected backstory is not a simple formality that gives a couple of unique replicas, but completely modifies the initial stage of the game. Nevertheless, it is obvious that the authors did not intend to make a role-playing game with a completely neutral character, as, for example, in Fallout: New Vegas, but due to the absence of Geralt of Rivia in Cyberpunk 2077, they decided to give the player a little more freedom of choice in terms of creating a protagonist.
At the same time, the main character named VI remains an integral plot hero, having a prescribed character and an established worldview - it will not work to blind a rabid maniac or a meek Saint. He is rough, but charming, has a keen sense of justice and the necessary amount of sarcasm. It's easy for him to empathize and easily accept him as his own alter ego, but of course, V frankly lacks the charisma of a gray-haired evil hunter. But CD Projekt RED had an ACE up its sleeve-johnny Silverhand played by Keanu Reeves. This is a real dream hero: on his own mind, a daring, dangerous rebel, a crazy rocker and just a great guy. His appearance in the plot is presented unexpectedly and with taste - it remains only to take off his hat to the screenwriters. In General, an impressive ensemble of side characters is perfect to match the third "Witcher". The authors did not require long exposure times and the tense psychological insight to create a truly vivid and memorable characters. It is human relationships - their fragility and value in the circumstances of the madness of a man-made dystopia-that are the Central theme of the plot of Cyberpunk 2077.
Keeping the main basis of the role-playing game in the open world, the developers actively borrow elements from other projects, in particular, cinematic chases and spectacular scripted scenes like in Uncharted or leisurely car rides with conversations in the style of Grand Theft Auto. Cyberpunk constantly changes the pace and dynamics of the game: some sections are pushed to a hidden passage, others on the contrary throw heavily armed opponents on your head or throw you into the abyss of hurricane shootouts - there is even a version of the boss helicopter.
Among other things, you need to explore locations, collect evidence and hack equipment, controlling the process through hidden cameras or being in "braindens" - a virtual reality system that allows you to experience real physical sensations by viewing and listening to pre-recorded videos on the camera. Most residents of night city use this technology to realize their erotic fantasies, but the player will be able to get useful information about the upcoming task through it, studying the environment and eavesdropping on the conversations of the right people.
Quests are traditionally divided into main and side quests, although sometimes they are so closely related that sometimes the side is emotionally perceived as part of the main story. Most story missions have a multi-stage structure, carefully building intrigue and systematically revealing narrative layers, bringing the player to the climax, simultaneously allowing you to influence the outcome of certain events, although, let's not be deceitful, Cyberpunk 2077 will always keep you within the framework of the story that the authors originally conceived. The game also features a reputation system that you earn by running errands from local criminal gangs that control various areas of the city. The developers did not ignore the fans of cleaning the map from question marks and other small similar activities like "find, neutralize, kill, bring".
A decent part of the gameplay is dedicated to driving, and in this respect Cyberpunk 2077 resembles Grand Theft Auto IV with its viscous model of vehicle behavior. For added realism, you can travel around night city with a view from the cab, but it is most convenient to observe the car from the side, so as not to accidentally hit random pedestrians. A car and motorcycle can be bought or simply stolen if your character has the necessary strength indicator. However, before this, it is worth thinking twice, otherwise there is a chance to catch a bullet from high-level police officers - "Cyberpunk" is not quite a suitable game for lawlessness on the roads. During long trips, you can listen to local radio stations that offer an excellent selection of musical genres for every taste, and all of them are skillfully stylistically inscribed in a futuristic setting. As in the case of our favorite Roach from the Witcher, V is able to call his iron horse to him at any time from a distance - in "Cyberpunk" this is due to the presence of an autopilot and no longer looks like an archaic Convention of game mechanics.
The shooting mechanics are not annoying in the context of the game's gigantic size, but clearly fall short of the flagship shooter genre. This is especially noticeable in terms of artificial intelligence of opponents, who, although trained to throw grenades, hide behind shelters, and sometimes go around from the rear, but most often behave like average dummies, gladly substituting for your bullets. When passing stealth, you can easily use the classic tactic-put the body of one enemy in a prominent place, and new victims will approach it in turn. Killing here, by the way, is not necessary - there are always harmless means of combat, although the path of a pacifist is always the most difficult and confusing. In addition to firearms and silent strangling from behind, in "Cyberpunk" you can become a master of fisticuffs, as well as use all sorts of Katanas, batons, and so on. The combat system is well thought out and allows you to strike fast and strong blows, block, parry, counterattack and sharply Dodge sideways. To be honest, this method of dealing with enemies turned out to be much more fun than shooting. If you basically disdain to approach enemies, then a hacking system will come to the rescue, with the help of which you will be able to arrange a variety of dirty tricks at a distance: break surveillance cameras, turrets, weapons and even chips implanted in the heads of enemies, forcing them to suffer from pain or attack their own. VI, in turn, is vulnerable to hacker attacks by so - called "netrunners" - specialists in hacking other people's brains.
Of course, the variability of the passage of dangerous areas is present, but in a much smaller volume than, say, in Deus Ex or Dishonored. Most likely, this is due to a more straightforward design of locations, which is quite understandable, given the overall size of the game. A much more pronounced emphasis is placed on the dialogue system, thanks to which you can avoid unnecessary clashes and change the course of the plot. There are no correct and incorrect answers in the game, often you are not given direct hints to a favorable outcome of the conversation, so you have to act independently, trying to choose the most appropriate response based on the situation and the personality of the interlocutor. Someone should be well cajoled, someone likes honesty, others are easily led to deception, well, in extreme cases, you can always treat particularly stubborn citizens with selected cuffs.
Separately, it is worth noting that CD Projekt RED has finally overcome the ailment of so many RPGs, when the production of dialogues is reduced to the conversation of two wax statues standing opposite each other. In "Cyberpunk", almost every conversation is part of the story mise EN scene, where the characters take the most natural positions for a particular episode, for example, if you have an appointment at a bar, then you will communicate with your counterpart sitting at a table, and not standing in the middle of the room, and in the case of a dynamic scene, the characters move freely around the location, while the harmony of the dialogue is not broken and you can choose the answer options right on the go.
But what about, you ask, the notorious role-playing? I must admit that in this sense, many seasoned fans of "pure" RPG may be disappointed, because already from the above features it is clear that the game is sharpened on a very specific story with small deviations here and there. Do not expect complete freedom of choice and the ability to be anyone, be rude at funerals, kill children and solve problems, bypassing the main outline of the plot, although, of course, many moments have a non-linear form.
The leveling element in this regard works quite simply - to begin with, you spend the experience points you receive on improving basic characteristics, which gives you access to special skills such as quickly breaking doors, terminals, increased chances to intimidate or convince some characters in dialogues, and so on. After that, you can move on to upgrades on the ability tree - there is a whole library of small perks that significantly increase the chances of survival in night city. Note also that your pumping is not synchronized with the opponents, so if at first you will be with gusto ogrebat almost all, then in the end, being at a high level, you will be able to mow down entire units like a terminator or just pass under everyone's nose unnoticed.
Summing up the gameplay mechanics, in the dry balance we have a very interesting picture. On the one hand, "Cyberpunk" tries to preserve some of the key features of the role-playing game genre, but on the other hand, with great pleasure, it brings to it a lot of seemingly completely alien moments, like scripted scenes with vivid effects, where you do not control what is happening, or arcade shootings from a stationary machine gun with endless cartridges. Probably, it would be wrong to hang some labels on Cyberpunk 2077 - it is better to just accept the project as it is and enjoy the truly magnificent work of the authors on the plot, quests and the game world.
When you first find yourself on the streets of night city, it immediately becomes clear that a new generation of video games has arrived. The scale and level of detail is amazing - at first you feel like a bug in a colorful anthill. Looking up, you can see how luxurious, futuristic skyscrapers are drowned in the rays of the sun - they really seem huge and unattainable, while narrow, dirty doorways, where cockroaches crunch under your feet, cause a feeling of crowding, stuffiness and abomination oozing from all the cracks. The streets are filled with passers-by of all ages, physiques and social status: fat rich men, fit businessmen, powdered prostitutes, simple hard workers, bandits and so on. Many still have human faces, but there are also those who have traded them for cybernetic implants.
There's a lot of activity everywhere: cheap fast-food stalls are steaming, neighbors are swearing, gunshots are heard, police sirens are wailing, while glamorous onlookers stare at shop Windows, security guards are discussing their owners ' perverse addictions, street prophets are yelling, and drug addicts are convulsing in dark corners. All this is buzzing, bubbling and bubbling before your eyes, creating a unique atmosphere of the city-dystopia. Even without any virtual reality glasses, you feel like you're part of a fantasy world, like you're inside a blade Runner movie. The simulation of the chaotic life of the metropolis is made at a new quality level, to which everyone else will have to struggle to reach - we have definitely not seen anything like this before.
At nightfall, the city is painted in the poisonous colors of neon signs, and the sinister areas that seemed gloomy in the sunlight, under the cover of darkness, look so realistic and unpleasant that you want to run away to your shabby apartment, pour chemical whiskey and never go out again. However, this will have to be done - the plot of the game will open up to you the frightening underside of night city with its brothels, gangster neighborhoods, dull industrial zones, landfills and wastelands surrounding the city. Sinking to the very bottom of this PANOPTICON, you will meet more and more frostbitten personalities, compared to which ordinary thugs will seem like lost sheep. The developers managed to achieve the desired effect thanks to serious progress in terms of animation and detailing of characters who move and react emotionally as convincingly as possible outside of cinematic cutscenes.
Unfortunately, there is always a fly in the ointment, spoiling everyone's holiday. In the case of Cyberpunk 2077, this is an excessive number of all sorts of bugs, graphic artifacts and other technical problems. For a short period of time in the game, you can collect a complete collection of Golden classics: characters hang in the air, pass through walls, fight in fits, appear out of nowhere and disappear into nowhere, flashing textures of distant objects cut through the horizon, some sounds disappear, and the frame rate can suddenly drop to zero for no reason. It is not surprising that even before the release of the reviews, the developers managed to prepare a patch almost the size of an entire game, and on the first day after the official release, another patch will appear, apparently even larger and heavier. For owners of consoles, this will be a downloadable patch, while on PCs, the changes will already be built into the release version. Given the Grand scale of the game and the complexity of implementing all its components, I would like to cling to technical flaws in the last place, but the situation was so bad that we were forced to drop one point in the assessment until the game is repaired to an acceptable level, which in principle can happen immediately after the release on December 10.
We would also like to thank ASUS for providing US with a ROG Zephyrus Duo gaming laptop equipped with an Intel Core i9 processor and an NVIDIA RTX family video card, which allowed us to evaluate Cyberpunk at high graphics settings with comfortable performance. With the exception of the above bugs, the game shows a good level of optimization under heavy loads. The visual side never ceases to amaze even after a week of passing - every corner of night city is made as if by hand, and all sorts of lighting effects, smoke, reflections and the play of shadows create an amazing sense of presence.
A few sample frames from NVIDIA and CD Projekt RED with and without ray tracing effects:
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Conclusion: If the Witcher 3: the Wild Hunt was perceived as an epic culmination of the creative efforts of the Polish Studio on the Foundation of a homegrown fantasy universe, then Cyberpunk 2077 looks more like a bold, breakthrough project with a large budget, where an unprecedented study of the game world is adjacent to offensive technical bugs and a couple of ambiguous gameplay solutions. As it seems, the main task of CD Projekt RED was to tell an exciting story in a non-trivial style, but so that the game could be enjoyed by the widest possible audience, as well as demonstrate the stunning graphics technologies with which game designers were able to recreate the frighteningly realistic world of the future on our screens. We doubt that anyone will have doubts about the quality of the new creation of CD Projekt RED, but if there are any, we hasten to warn you - you risk missing a project that will forever divide the gaming industry into before and after.