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Cyberpunk 2077

FBT plays this generation’s Daikatana.

Here at we love a bit of crap gaming; so much that we have an entire section, Guilty Pleasures, dedicated to games that suck but we have a soft spot for; random bugs, weird NPC actions, bad missions, incomprehensible plots, hilarious mechanics? We’re in. CP2077’s botched release was legendary; time to find some guilty pleasures in Night City.

I always wanted to be a games tester, and now CP2077 has fulfilled that dream. Although I’m a few patches in, it’s not all there. NPCs appear half-rendered, walk through walls, launch themselves towards your car instead of out the way or faint when you get too close. Items go flying when you walk in, get stuck or disappear, the cars drive at right-angles, the bikes handle like a toddler’s trike and the vehicle delivery system causes pileups. Roads, and occasionally the entire city, often appear empty and the police have a laissez-faire attitude to crime; they don’t care unless you’re doing it. Late on, I get rewarded with a jacket from a gang I aligned with – and for some reason, wearing it rendered my character naked except for the jacket. I even lost my hair. I finished the game naked and bald. If I was on a desert island and this washed up, I’d honestly think it was from 2005. This is my kinda game.

After an hours-long preamble, our character, “V” finds themselves in one of the most over-used plots in gaming / TV / Film / Colouring-in books. A ‘sure thing’ heist goes wrong, V witnesses a murder that could cause the city to implode, gets fingered for the crime, and dumped on the streets a wanted person with no choice but to clean up this town.

I’ve cleaned up this town before. Night City is a rich above, poor below place – it looks great and you really get a sense of how corrupt it is, high-rise apartments look down on tents under freeways yet everyone is a hustler; there’s no good guys in Night City including V, but it lazily models itself on Mega-City One as designed by 80s Ridley Scott. A neon retrofuture run by megacorps isn’t new but it’s not adding anything to the genre, just regurgitating it.

And the regurgitation extends to the gameplay. You’re looking at every RPG you’ve ever played, and it’s shameless in its borrowing. Yet the RPG aspects feel unnecessary – crafting, inventory management, mods, the skill tree, hacking, even the augmentations you can apply to V feel chucked in so it can call itself RPG. The relationships are clumsy, the sex-scenes straight out of Red Shoe Diaries and all the mini games infuriate, especially ‘Mind Dance’ - it’s little more than an over-complicated detective mode. But what infuriates is there’s nothing to RPG here, Night City is just a façade, like a Madame Tussaud’s of sci-fi.

During the character creation you can chose what background V has (must play Mass Effect again), but that has no impact other than allows a unique dialogue choice – which the other backgrounds also have, making yours redundant. A game world like this needs to let us deep-dive, find our niche in Night City, fully explore the world and how people live in it.

One area that did need exploration is the reaction by the Trans community to an image released during the marketing campaign. CD Projekt claimed their intent was to parody objectification in advertising – and in-game, it makes sense; you can alter anything about yourself, be Robocop, a Ghost in the Shell; so in a world where you can 3D-print your ideal body, how do companies advertise? By doing what they do now – sexualise, fetishize, play on fears, make you insecure. And other genders and identities are also reduced to their sex organs in the ads around the city - a clever commentary on both corporate advertising and human nature to go to whatever extreme we can reach, right?