Cyberpunk 2077 Review (PS4) – Bugs And Performance Issues Overshadow A Captivating And Haunting Dystopia
Cyberpunk 2077 PS4 Review – Cyberpunk 2077 is a mighty game to review. Not just in terms of size, but the game has a lot of things going on, whether it be the litany of quests with compelling characters, the captivating and all-too-possible dystopian urban sprawl of Night City, or the endless issues with the game and the fact that it runs wildly differently on current generation and last generation systems.
CD Projekt Red has crafted one of the best sci-fi dystopias in any video game ever, with fascinating stories which unfold within it and characters to grow to love and to learn to hate. But, despite the amazing work done here, the issues and crashing severely damage the experience, making Cyberpunk a pain to play at times and virtually unplayable on a regular PS4.
Cyberpunk 2077 PS4 Review
Night City Is A Warning For The Future
Much like how in Grand Theft Auto the city and surrounding areas are the true stars of the show, Night City in Cyberpunk 2077 is a character in its own right. The metropolis with markets and multitudes of people packed tighter than an overpacked British train is a sight to behold and its grand scale, both in size and height, is accented by neon lights, graffiti splattered across streets, and a vivid destitute look that helps evoke the once-great promise this city held.
But the city is more than just its looks, no matter how diverse and unique each of the game’s regions feels. Night City is filled with horrifyingly possible events and happenings that seem perfectly plausible in our future, and even some which don’t. A few examples of this include robotic partners called “Dolls” who you hire and share a booth with. They morph into the personality that best suits what you are attracted to and then will revert back to their typical form after your session has ended, truly taking the human connection out of sexual intercourse.
The city is also packed with Ripperdocs, who modify people’s bodies, limbs, and cyberware for a price. In one story mission, you meet a black-market Ripperdoc of sorts who fixes and replaces parts for those who are poor or living in dangerous situations in Night City.
And, as you stand there, listening to him rambling and fixing parts of people laid out on operating tables, he talks about how he uses cheap parts to fix these people and that comes with a host of side effects that might affect them or permanently damage them later on.
Those are just a few of the horrific scenarios presented to you in Cyberpunk, but whilst these situations don’t seem bad or harmful to anyone involved, you quickly realise as you discover Night City that what these people experience is the pinnacle of poverty in the future. It projects an idea of what our current society, which is filled with inequality, could look like in 60 years. People selling parts of their bodies to survive or losing the meaning of human connection and talking and having sex with holograms or vapid robots and shells.
Cyberpunk 2077 is bleak, terrifying and incredibly possible in real-life, which is a credit to the amazing work CD Projekt Red have done to bring the tabletop RPG to life onscreen.
A Depressing Look At Technology And Who Controls It
As for the core narrative of Cyberpunk 2077, you play as V, who can have one of three lifepaths. As a Nomad, you live outside of Night City and forge your own path in life. With a Corpo background, you grew up in the hustle and bustle of city life, with all the affluence and riches that come with the corporation-life. Finally, as a Street Kid, you grew up in the slums of Night City, experiencing the opposite end of life from those in the skyscrapers above.
These lifepaths mostly affect your introduction to Night City and the early hours of the game. before they all converge into the main story path. That story path takes you on V’s journey as a run-and-gun Merc for hire, completing jobs for fixers in the city and living from job to job.
But, it doesn’t take long for V to take up a job that gets him or her in far deeper than they have ever gotten before, embedded within a controversy involving one of the largest families and corporations in Night City and in possession of a fabled data chip, which is treated as a relic and is highly valuable.
After the situation goes topsy turvy, V puts the relic chip into their body, allowing its code and data to seep into their system. What is on that chip turns out to be a living construct of Johnny Silverhand, a long-deceased rock band member and terrorist, who is looking for revenge and to complete his mission, using V as his vessel to do just that.
I don’t want to go too much into the story but the core of it contracts into a tale about technology, what happens when we don’t have control over it and how far we would go to get the feeling of feeling like our true selves and what that exactly means.
I liked where the story ended up and there are some fascinating characters you meet along the way, which are easy to fall in love with and show the true emotion and humanity behind the technological and corporate city they all live in.
Particularly Paman, Judy, and Takemura who each hold a questline in the middle chunk of the game have great character moments and a chance to learn about their lives and who they are and were as people. There is some truly excellent stuff here involving these characters.
As for Johnny Silverhand, he initially starts off quite grating but CD Projekt Red do a solid job of humanising him, although he is a terrorist so that element of wackiness is always there. Keanu Reeves does a stellar job of playing him and really helps bring the character to live thanks to Keanu’s great motion-capture performance and his ability to truly embody the character.
One example of this comes quite late into the game, where you are chatting on a rooftop with Takemura and when you finish your conversation, hologram Johnny who talks and interacts with you as a literal voice in your head, rolls off the balcony and out of sight instead of disappearing like he usually does. It’s a great personality showcase and there are a lot of little moments like this, expertly performed by Keanu.
A World To Take In At Your Own Pace And Fall In Love With
When it comes to the side activities and exploring Night City in your car, it is a joy to ride around. Each district feels unique from the packed market streets of Westbrook to the towering skyscrapers of the City Centre, to the desolate but breath-of-fresh-air Badlands, that make you feel like you have escaped a claustrophobic, constrained cage as you explore them.
There is a lot of variety in the visual aesthetics of the districts in Night City and within each one you have your own factions, some that have multiple, who compete for territory and each have their own unique playstyles and combatants.
When it comes to activities in Night City, there are a collection of Side Jobs to complete, which are focused around a character, whilst Gigs are simple activities like stealing a certain item, killing an individual, or extracting a target. Crimes litter the streets for you to help the police fight against and there are other small activities like races and the ability to find and buy new vehicles.
Each of these big Side Jobs has the same amount of engagement and enjoyment as was in The Witcher 3, with each one feeling meaningful and being fun to complete. This is added to with great voice acting and performances from the full cast, who really help sell the believability of this world.
A lot of the smaller activities fill the “Open-world filler” void, but with how enjoyable the game is and how fun Night City is to explore, it stays engaging, especially as you can jam out to the excellent original soundtrack for this game, which is filled with tracks from a multitude of genres.
A Combat RPG That Works And Also Doesn’t
As an RPG, Cyberpunk 2077 works in a lot of ways. It truly allows you to become the person you want to be by offering a wealth of attributes to specialise in and countless abilities to unlock, which can help attune your hacking skills, improve your stealth, or make you the perfect long-range fighter.
Within each of the game’s five attributes, Body, Intelligence, Technical, Reflexes, and Cool, you can then use points you earn as you level up to buy the skills related to each attribute, which can be what I mentioned above, among a number of other things.
There is a lot of flexibility and you can become fully proficient in one or two of these attributes or go for a more general build and spread your points out among all five categories.
Beyond that, there are a host of weapons you can buy or find out in the field, each with their own rarity and host of perks, small bonuses, and buffs tied to them. The same goes for armor, which is less diverse and varied but can still be swapped in and out on the fly as you get new pieces.
There is also a host of cyberware upgrades you can equip to your body, which can provide new quickhacks to distract enemies or deal damage in battle or provide entirely new abilities such as giant scissor arms which you can pull out and attack enemies with, or a grenade which you can shoot off.
As for the actual combat and stealth mechanics here, Cyberpunk 2077’s gunplay feels great. Guns are punchy and feel futuristic to shoot due to the recoil and amount of feedback offered. Gunfights are chaotic, but a blast to engage in and I think the gunplay, the accuracy of it, and the fine-tuning CD Projekt Red have done make it better than the melee combat ever was in The Witcher 3.
Melee combat in Cyberpunk 2077 is less great and can best be compared to a slightly more fine-tuned Fallout. It has the same floatiness and inaccuracy of that game, but it feels a little bit more responsive. It is possible to do a melee only run, but you will be missing out on the much-better gunplay.
But, the problem with all this gear and variety is that none of it really feels meaningful here. Much like The Witcher 3, even Legendary and Power items, don’t have much spice or flavor and tend to just feel more powerful versions of the archetypes you already have in your inventory.
On top of that, the stats screen and the info displayed on these weapons is quite confusing and there is no rhyme or rhythm to how they are dished out, with my inventory often being filled with higher quality weapons, that did less damage.
Overall, it just feels a bit jumbled and cobbled together to create the illusion of choice, when really the choice lies in what build and attributes you select, rather than the weapons your wield.
A Performance Tornado Of Varying Intensity
Now, let’s get onto the final section of this review and arguably the most important. Cyberpunk 2077 has A LOT of issues, no matter what system you are playing on. Some of the smaller issues include visual glitches and clipping with phones, packets of cards and other items floating in mid-air.
On top of that, there were multiple scenes, including key story sequences which featured items clipping, including a gun pressed against a man’s head clipping into their head, ruining the immersion just a bit.
Also, the A.I. for driving is just baffling, with pedestrians not driving around crashes or the parked car that you summoned. Instead, they just sit in place and cause a massive traffic blockade, which can hold up vehicle deliveries or the arrival of certain story points.
Cyberpunk 2077 also suffers from a horrific crashing problem, with a crash expected every 45-60 minutes and lasting any longer without one is a miracle. These crashes force you to load back into the game from scratch, which is annoying on PS5, but downright a turn-off on PS4, where loading times are significantly extended.
This crashing also happens completely randomly, which adds to the annoyance. Driving into a garage, the possibility of a crash. In the middle of a gunfight, possibility of a crash. Even, during pivotal story moments crashes can happen, which force you to restart a large section of the mission.
On PS5, the game works great apart from these crashes. The visuals on Sony’s newest console aren’t anything spectacular, but colors pop and buildings have vivid highlights and designs. The game also runs at a mostly smooth 60 FPS, with some small drops here and there, but nothing major.
Now, let’s talk about PS4. As mentioned in my early impressions, the game’s performance on PS4 is dreadful. It has since been confirmed that the game runs at below 1080p and framerate can drop to the mid-teens during certain sequences.
On top of those issues, there a host of other problems which have been noted such as game freezes for up to a minute, more extreme bugs than what is found on PS4, and blurry visuals, bad draw distance, and a host of other visual issues.
I played a good five or so hours of Cyberpunk 2077 on my 2013 launch PS4 and I didn’t enjoy a single part of the experience. It is a disaster, to say the least. And, if you don’t own a PS5 I can’t recommend you play this game. Wait until it is either patched (although I don’t know if the last-generation versions of the game can be saved from the poor technical state they are in right now) or you get a PS5.
A Wildly Different Experience On Two Generations Of Consoles Make It A Hard Sell
Cyberpunk 2077 is such a vastly different experience on PS5 and PS4 that it makes coming to a final conclusion tough. On PS5 the game is doing a great job of holding up and exploring Night City, meeting new characters, and discovering the dystopian dread of the citizens is fascinating and enthralling.
But, on PS4, the game is horrific, virtually unplayable and just an absolute mess. I can’t recommend you play on PS4 right now and I don’t recommend ever experiencing Cyberpunk 2077 on PS4. I mean, even the backwards compatibility version on PS5 has its fair share of issues.
But, if you are playing on a PS5, Night City is one of the best sci-fi dystopias ever depicted in games, with a haunting realistic take on technology, the power those who control it have, and the lengths humans will go to feel comfortable with themselves. Cyberpunk 2077 is a world worth exploring, just not on PS4.
Cyberpunk 2077 is available now on PS4.
Review copy provided by publisher.