Cyberpunk 2077 - Review, the price of aiming for the future

Who I am
Aina Martin
Author and references

The first role-playing game of Cyberpunk (intended on paper) dates back to 1988, the year in which the author Mike Pondsmith imagined a distant future, year 2013, where the world would see a real technological "boom". Two years later that bar rose higher, until 2020, the year in which we are now (and which we can't wait to end). Obviously, the paper RPG has gone its own way, first with a re-adaptation 3.0 of 2008 and then with the so-called Red version, optimized and created to position itself between that not too distant (now) 2020 and 2077, the year in which it is instead set the video game of CD Projekt Red. Cyberpunk 2077 was released on December 10, about 6 days ago, and it becomes impossible to talk about it rationally without having spent the right hours on it. So here we come to you with this slightly different review: in fact we usually find ourselves reviewing a title by trying it on a platform, but for this case we preferred to do a quadruple test to see the various differences, usually not so abysmal. Our tests were done on PS5, PS4, PC and Google Stadia.

It will also be useless to talk in detail about the mechanics, so large and strange that we advise you to see them playing it; on the contrary, instead, we can tell you about the feeling, the real technical issues, what you have to expect and how this game, having been criticized for its visual quality, is still a watershed of how the RPGs used to be seen once, and how they should be now. To be as synthetic as possible, Cyberpunk 2077 is divided into three large areas, three macroscopic sections that you will have to go through to fully enjoy it: on the one hand we have the narrative, decidedly free and well constructed (on the other hand it takes inspiration from a paper RPG), on the other hand we have game design, structured not as a simple purpose to be able to live a story, but more as a means to fully enjoy it, and in the middle we find this technical side so variable from platform to platform that it will be difficult to talk about it univocally.

The Narration

Cyberpunk 2077 deludes us that we have total freedom, and this is something fantastic. In the story of the game, which will make us start depending on which origins we will choose - between Nomad, Street Kid or Corporate -, after the first 10 hours in-game there seems to be an alienating freedom, a game mode that says in our mind "do what you want ". The second sentence, that is "in the end you will do what I say" is hidden behind the enthusiasm, but in the end it is okay. Cyberpunk 2077 offers so many macro-missions (thanks The Witcher 3) that it will really seem to have a free will capable of changing the fate of the game. There are alternative endings, but all related to the choices of a simple mission, while the others are more of the different paths that lead to the end. On the other hand, we believe it was objectively impossible to give the same freedom that a paper role-playing game has, and so that's fine.

The freedom offered to us in the story of V - which will be more definable as your V based on choices, values ​​and so on - is a breath of fresh air from those few linear games left, but above all from those open worlds. that create maps as large as they are empty. In fact, the Night City of the game is alive, it breathes with us and does it in an impressive way. Where the spoken narrative stops - and we do it too so as not to spoil you - the visual one starts, made up of views that exclude expanses and natural landscapes by inserting terribly breathtaking skyline instead. Each building has its details, each light its nuances and seeing them even in the distance has a certain effect.

The Design

In practical terms Cyberpunk 2077 is the best representation of a product born on paper as an RPG and arrived on consoles. Despite everything, there are high freedoms and CD Projekt RED's ability to bring every single detail of the original to the screen is mind-blowing. The game leaves room for custom builds (in the future we will also talk about which, in our opinion, are the best) and really allows you to progress in the game as you see fit. For example, you can choose to talk to a necessary NPC, or kill him for information, a freedom that has rarely been seen so prominently until now.

The ability to choose which weapons and clothes to wear, how to customize the character, but also what actions to perform (empowering yourself with talents that will reward the frequent use of certain weapons and solutions) and which values ​​to enhance are the heart of this RPG. Once you get the hang of it, it will be easy to become the best Netrunner in the area or the best Solitaire in Night City. Also interesting how you can actually be action or stealth Netrunner, assault solitaire or stamina based. In short, if you were expecting a free game (in the possibilities that a video game can have) and capable of making you live in a city that breathes, Cyberpunk 2077 is the title for you.

The Technique

And here comes the sore point: we tested the game thoroughly on PS4, PS5, Google Stadia and PC (with various configurations, from a simple 1070Ti up to 2080Ti), and the experience was very different between the various platforms. Let's immediately divide everything into three macro-categories:

  • PlayStation 4 (Fat and Slim), Xbox One (Fat and S): The game runs poorly, drops below 30 FPS, crashes often, and has devastating loads.
  • PlayStation 4 Pro, Xbox One X, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series S / X: the game runs, often above 30 FPS, occasionally crashes and runs much faster on SSD
  • PC, Google Stadia, GeForce Now - the game runs smoothly and is a pleasure

Having tried at least one platform per category, let's start with the positive things: the game world is detailed beyond belief, every reflection and every light is alive and pulsating, every glimpse shows an unlikely technical power. Going around Night City and the Badlands on foot or by car allows you to see something rare, an attention to detail that does not fall into the frequent use of similar textures, but which shows a study for every single corner of the map. This kind of cure is often seen in linear single players, and therefore manages to leave you speechless. The bugs obviously remain, but we already know that those will be fixed in the short term.

Unfortunately, an average PC manages to run the game well, but a PlayStation 5 will lead to widespread crashes: this often happens when you visit a part of the city far from where you started, as if to show a flaw in the general loading (remember that the game does not include uploads between one district and another). So be prepared for at least one crash during the session, some frame drops in the most excited phases and the usual bugs, because otherwise the game goes quite discreetly. On Stadia, the title is great (especially if you have a great connection and a Pro subscription), and it's the second best version of the game.

On the old consoles, however, the problem is serious; production has frequent problems, it is unplayable in the hectic stages and it is not the Cyberpunk 2077 we expected. Of course, everything else is there, from narrative freedom to design genius, but these undoubted qualities are blocked by the bottleneck given by the lack of power of the platforms. Unfortunately this invalidates the general evaluation of the title, which is why below we will put 3 judgments: one dedicated to the PC version, one to the old-gen one, and finally an average of the two, a value that we will be happy to change in the coming months with the arrival of the patches.

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