Hitbox Review: Cyberpunk 2077

After seven long years of waiting, Cyberpunk 2077 is finally here, just not in the state we were hoping.

Developer: CD Projekt Red

Release date: Dec. 10, 2020

Platforms: PC [played], PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Playable on PlayStation 5 and Xbox One X/S, but full next-gen editions are coming in 2021.

Price: $59.99

This isn’t going to be a typical Hitbox article, but more of a platform for me to rant a little about a game that I love despite its many flaws. It will also be the last, at least for now, as I graduated last semester and will no longer be working at The Northern Light. It’s been a pleasure writing The Hitbox and hopefully, you’ve enjoyed reading them.

One of the missed potentials of Cyberpunk 2077 is trauma team which are heavily armed paramedics that aren’t seen in action aside from a couple times. Screenshot courtesy of cyberpunk.net.

Let me just start by acknowledging that Cyberpunk 2077 might be the buggiest big-budget game I’ve ever played. I repeatedly encountered graphical bugs, such as characters t-posing during intense scenes and ran into brain-dead AI that couldn’t figure out how to take cover behind a box that was right in front of them.

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In spite of all of Cyberpunk’s flaws, I still absolutely devoured it. I spent multiple all-nighters driving and shooting my way through Night City and I don’t regret a minute of it. The only thing keeping me from starting another playthrough is wanting to see how the game plays after the developers inevitably fix bugs over the next few months.

Cyberpunk 2077 came out when I was in a pretty bad mental state. The only thing that snapped me out of it was realizing that the game that I had been looking forward to for almost a decade was coming out in a few days. Nothing besides literally game-breaking bugs could stop Cyberpunk 2077 from being a smash hit for me. Thankfully, the only bugs I encountered were purely cosmetic. I managed to complete all the missions and side-gigs just fine.

The biggest surprise reveal in recent gaming history was no doubt the announcement of Keanu Reeves playing a central character in Cyberpunk 2077. It’s incredible that Reeves doesn’t disappoint. He delivers every line of dialogue perfectly and it’s the exact kind of gruff you want from a guy with a vendetta against the biggest and baddest corporation in the world. Reeves’ performance had me hanging on every word he spoke.

Keanu Reeves’ character, John Silverhand, is just as awesome as Keanu Reeves is. Screenshot courtesy of Cyberpunk.net.

Though sadly, there is no moment where Reeves delivers the iconic, “wake the f*** up samurai! We have a city to burn,” from the reveal trailer. Reeves’ character, Johnny Silverhand does take off and put on his aviators with sufficient badassery, however.

The entire soundtrack is similarly excellent. From the doom-like combat music, to the varied in-game radio tracks, you can’t ask for better music to drive through the neon-drenched streets of Night City with. I’ve even come around on the hard rock songs of Samurai, Johnny Silverhand’s band. The songs are performed by the real-life band Refused and are perfect to do a little headbanging and occasionally throw up the horns.

The guns all feel surprisingly good for a game like this. The only point of comparison for open-world first-person shooters I had was the Fallout games, which have always had very lackluster feeling shooting. It feels incredibly cool every time to shoot around cover with a smart gun and waste an enemy, or just shoot through the cover all together with a tech weapon. Even the plain old assault rifle variant feels alright.

Jackie (center left) quickly becomes the main character, V’s friend (at least on the street punk life path). Screenshot courtesy of Cyberpunk.net.

By far the highlight in combat however, is pulling out a katana and going to work on an entire squad. I once managed to wipe out a whole gas station full of enemies before they knew what hit them. Pulling out massive wrist mantis wrist blades filled me with a similar feeling. Even the gorilla arms, which augment the user’s strength immensely, are fun to use and watch an enemy go flying back after one massive right hook.

The biggest testament to how fun the guns are to use is that even the pistols feel cool. Thanks to some slick reload animations, I never wanted to unequip Johnny Silverhand’s personal pistol, even if other guns did higher damage. The same went for the clothes I obtained. I always maintained a loose “rule of cool” where I equipped items that looked cool rather than had better stats. That system is actually viable too, since it’s easy to add hundreds of armor to an item using armadillo mods.

After 120 hours, I still want to just immerse myself in Night City. It realizes so much of its potential, but only time will tell if CD Projekt Red fixes enough bugs to fully achieve Cyberpunk’s promise.