My colleague at Boing Boing, Rob Beschizza, posted this review of Cyberpunk 2077 yesterday. It is one of the better reviews of the game that I’ve read.
Some gameplay is fantastic, some dreadful. Unarmed combat was one early headache, performance-captured combatants stomping and sliding around like toddlers at a stripmall karate club.
The braindances, though, where V explores recordings of people’s memories in search of clues hidden in their peripheral perceptions, are outstanding and underused. These Technobra Dinn sequences could hold up a detective game all by themselves.
Between, there’s incomplete role-playing stuff (you don’t have to kill, but non-lethal methods are in need of refinement) and the unequivocally good FPS adventure it’s all built around. And bugs. Overwrite your saves at your own risk.
Night City’s promise of sandbox freedom is a mirage. Its mazelike three-dimensionality cultivates these expections and subverts them. I couldn’t build a mental map at all; fifty hours in, I’d be lost a block from home without the GPS. You’re not quite stuck thinking in waypoints (it’s cool to drive) but you can hardly chill in a favorite spot. Violence is around every corner, and Cyberpunk 2077 wants you to get on with it.
Still, I found it engrossing in ways that game towns usually aren’t. As focused as this game is on paying tribute (may you find a whisky tumbler here that isn’t this whisky tumbler) Night City is an ambitious creation. In its crowds and alleys, its towers and seedy eateries, are interesting gradients of city living. Its grandeur comes from looming cantilevers and layered skyways rather than height or volume. Acres of blight and misdesign tell a story rather than fill space. Someone thought it through. The residential megabuildings are particularly impressive, concrete decay reclad in metal and plastic, waiting to burn down, Grenfell at scale.
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