Rated: >= 3 / 5 (assuming it gets properly patched)
Wokeness: >= 3 / 5
Let me just state up front that I have never played any game on release day ever in my entire life. This is a first for me. And I knew this was going to be a bad idea, because 90% of the time games today are busted coming through the door, and needs its developer friends to help its crippled ass along to the couch to fix it up before it’s stable enough to play with everyone at the party. Now I’m wishing I hadn’t pre-ordered this thing. Then again, most companies haven’t built up as much goodwill as CD Projekt Red these days, not to mention they created one of my favorite games of all time, The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings (yes, I enjoyed part 2 more than part 3). Which makes this the first time I’ve come to be this close to the whole incident of a game company losing their goodwill they’ve built up over the years, and starting down the EA path. As in being someone who was once a supporter and fan of the company, but no longer. And it’s not because the game is broken to the point where it gets nearly unplayable at times, but because of the lies and messages they told about its console releases (and to some extent the PC release). Which means the same people running the show for the Witcher trilogy are either no longer in the position they once were, or they got as corrupted as the software in the protagonist’s head in this game.
I was hoping this game wouldn’t have as many bugs as people were saying it was going to have. Because it’s one thing to delay a game once or twice, it’s another to delay it 3 or more times. Once you cross that 2nd delay threshold, that usually means there’s a problem that will be apparent upon release. Well, that’s why my hopes are usually half-assed, because I can assure everyone that this game has some very annoying bugs. The main ones being the stuff that causes you to crash to desktop (CTD). I’m reviewing based off the PC by the way. As for my PC specs, while I’m certainly not running the latest model out there, it’s adequate enough to handle the game judging by the minimum specs that are stated. My specs:
- i7 CPU chip
- NVIDIA GTX 970 Graphics card
- 16 GB RAM
- SSD hard drive
- Windows 7 64-bit
The main thing that worried me was the graphics card. But according to GOG, the minimum graphic card specs suggest that the GTX 930 would do, so I’m a bit ahead of the curve on that regard. Plus I’m not willing to shell out $500 for a new top of the line graphics card that this game recommends me to have, not when I’m not exactly doing all that well financially. The point is, I have enough to run this game, at least at the minimal graphics level.
Well apparently that’s not exactly good enough for this game. Each time you look at yourself in the mirror, CTD. That becomes problematic because there are at least 2 points in the game where you are forced to look in the mirror during some cutscene or something. And is there a workaround I could use? Yes, but it’s a bit irritating. I normally play games at 1920 X 1080 screen resolution because that’s the resolution of my monitor. But if I reduce the resolution down to 1024 X 786 (the minimum screen resolution allowed in this game), it will finally chug past the cocksucking mirror bits, and that one window scene. But since this game doesn’t have a full window mode, you can either play it via borderless window, or windowed. Which means in order to play the game without having the rest of the desktop surrounding the little mini-game screen, you have to reduce your desktop resolution to those minimum dimensions before starting up the game so you won’t have to squint. Even then, it gets a little difficult to read the text. That all said, once I reduced the graphics to the minimal setting, and the screen resolution to the minimal setting, the most egregious and common CTDs stopped happening. They happen every once in a while, but nowhere near as frequently to the point where it was infuriating, and made me question if I could even get through the game (oh, but just you wait).
The other thing that I noticed causes CTD is utilizing the scanner too frequently. The scanner that changes your vision to scan mode when you hit the Tab key (default assignment), get information on individuals and tech, learn weaknesses, learn if you can hack them or not (and if so, in what way depending on what you equipped your hardware with). But most important of all, marking the enemies on the map so you’ll know where they are. And I know, I know, this takes away from the stealth aspect that I bitched about in games like Uncharted 4 and many modern games that have the balls to call themselves stealth. But the thing is it makes perfect sense in this setting, where you can hack cameras, detect electronic stuff and things connected online, how you can hack enemies, how enemies can hack you. It makes sense for this to be a mechanic in this game, whether people dislike it for cheapening the stealth approach to gameplay or not. Well apparently the game as it currently stands fucking hates me for fucking exploiting this too fucking much because marking too many people or whipping out scan mode too often will just cause the fucking game to fucking crash all over a-fucking-gain. More on that later.
CTD aside, the other bugs I came across ranged from irritating to amusing. There are times where you can’t pick up a highlighted object without doing gymnastics (ie walking around the object until you’re at just the right spot to allow for picking it up). There are times where you can’t pick up EVERYTHING without first picking up one thing from a dead body. There’s also an instance where there’s a gate I’d like to go through to try stopping a crime in progress but can’t, and then some fatfuck of an NPC just walks on through it as if it wasn’t there (and that motherfucker probably got gunned down once he turned the corner, getting his stomach torn open from all the bullets and shrapnel and spilling his guts and chicken McFatFuckNuggets and Hamburger Helper all over the floor). How the game does that cheap trick I fucking despised ever since Grand Theft Auto IV, where fucking vehicles and people spawn up spontaneously from behind you out of view; you see nothing ahead of you on the freeway, turn 180 degrees, run a few feet, turn around, then all of a sudden the entire population is behind you ready to run you over (some exaggeration).
And speaking of cars, it has the expected function of transitioning from 1st person view to 3rd person, to a slightly zoomed in 3rd person. You know, typical vehicle view that’s been the standard for a while. But driving in 3rd person is the way to go. Not that I have anything against 1st person driving per se (except that it’s inferior to 3rd person in every way in every game, so you car simulator aficionados can suck it), but in this game’s case there are certain vehicles where the current state of the game makes driving them more trouble than it’s worth. Because of the constant fucking sun glare that comes through the windshield, which dims down a bit if you try driving while looking sideways through the driver side window. This is bullshit! Fuck that, and fuck first-person-driving!
And that goddamn crouch toggle button. It comes mapped to the ‘C’ key, with the left ‘Ctrl’ being the “hold to crouch” button. Well, this is problematic when the ‘C’ key is also used to skip conversations (and trust me, you’ll want the subtitles on, if only to see the actual translation of Japanese and Mexican speakers). Next thing you know, you’ll be crouched while talking to someone, staring at their crotch while they shout, “I say, ‘Blow me!’ you say, ‘How hard?’!” But that’s not the worst part. The worst part is when I decided to remap those keys, making ‘Ctrl” be the button that toggles crouching, removing ‘C’ altogether so that it can be used exclusively for skipping dialogue, and not having anything assigned to normal crouch (as in holding down a button in order to crouch). Well guess what? It’s not that fucking easy. The buttfucking game still treated it as if ‘Ctrl’ was mapped to normal crouching. So I had to go back to the fucking settings, change it back to being a normal crouch command, back to the game, crouch once or twice hitting the Ctrl key, go back to settings, then remap it to toggle crouch, then go back to the game, then it would work fine. And guess what? I had to do this same process every goddamn time I died or CTD; and this was driving me fucking insane.
But then there’s instances where the bugs/glitches were actually highly amusing. I pick up a dead body, move it to some other spot, and then it explodes when I set it down. Like it just combusted from the inside out leaving nothing but a bloody mess. And then that one time where my Mexican partner goes to unplug a chip in his head and give it to me to put into my head, but the instant he goes to reach for the back of his head, his pistol teleports from his hand and into his head; then he proceeds to pull the gun out of his head and hand it to me. You know, that’s too awesome of a Videodrome inspired event for me to be angry at.
So all that bullshit aside, how is the game so far? Well after 10 hours of playing it (which really resulted in about 5 hours of actual progress), out of my current 25 hour playthrough, I realized I had only gotten past the prologue portion of the game. Which excited me, because I was getting worried about how much this game was holding my hand and guiding me through the entire affair. Now, the game isn’t as extensive as I would’ve hoped for an open-world FPS Cyberpunk RPG game, in that 90% of the NPCs walking around do absolutely nothing (you can’t really talk to them), and have no real pattern. They’re just environmental decorations, like the people in a Grand Theft Auto game. They’re not actual individuals who have a daily routine that you can follow, they’re just randomly generated mindless NPCs. Another instance of the game demonstrating it’s not the second coming of Christ, but something that’s just a decent typical shooter that would be above-average with it’s gameplay and atmosphere if not for the bugs and piss-poor optimization.
I rather enjoy the fact that this can be played like a FPS Grand Theft Auto game (with some Deus Ex thrown in for good measure), where you can walk around, or drive a car, or walk around then hijack a car. And I appreciate that you have to level up your character in such a way to where he’ll be strong enough to actually pull off a hijacking. That always kinda bugged me that you could hijack whoever in GTA without them putting up much of a fight (police aside). Now you gotta work a little for it. Though you could just skip all the “check if your Body stat is high enough to pull the hijack off” routine and just whip out a gun and blow the driver’s brains out before pulling him/her out of the card and stealing it for yourself that way. But with cop cars, you’ll be needing your Engineering/Crafting skill high enough to hijack those, which makes sense.
The gun play is fun. I really got a feel of the impact of some of these shots. Every single one of these guns carries a big “Oomph!” to it, not just the shotgun. I mean, if you think the shotgun is awesome, wait until you fire one of those power sniper rifles that only has 4 bullet capacity prior to (slowly) reloading. And thank Christ there’s no cover-based shooting going on. Don’t worry, you can hide behind cover, but it’s not like Gears of War style or anything like that, you can just move and crouch in and out of various places that can be used as cover. As for the AI of the enemies, so far, they’re just typical. Sometimes they’re intelligent, knowing when to rush you when you’re behind cover. Other times they’ll just stay where they’re at waiting for you to kill them. Depends on whether the game feels like making them challenging or not. Also nice to see that they can heal themselves too if given enough time after you wound them, thus encouraging you to maintain aggression. And while you can run them over while driving a vehicle, that’s not recommended. These thugs are smart enough and capable enough to murder you while you’re behind the wheel, because glass isn’t as effective as just hiding behind the vehicle (plus it can explode if it takes enough damage). The potential is there to make the AI good rather than just average, and I imagine it will be closer to being fulfilled with each patch that comes out to fix this game that’s as buggy as Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines when it first came out (ok, maybe not THAT bad, but it’s up there).
The storyline and characters… Well the storyline is decent enough so far. It took a while, but I started to get into it after the glorified prologue section ended. As for the characters, well I see potential with a couple, but most of them I couldn’t give less of a shit about. Take this with a grain of salt, as this is a white nationalist’s opinion here, but I didn’t give a shit about the Mexican I was paired with, his wannabe goth girlfriend (blue-haired), the black hacker chick helping us every step of the way, the black thug who organized the “big score” mission we were to go on, not even the white doctor who installs cyberware into my character. None of them really interest me. But by the end of the prologue section, the Mexican friend, black hacker chick, and the fat black thug all get killed, and that just sets my little white racist heart alight. Things would be right in the world if there was some major tranny character I could also kill (so far it was some anonymous gangster thug beefy bitch who looked like a cross between Abby from The Last of Us 2, and Zarya from Overwatch).
Keanu Reeves interests me, and my character sort of interests me. This isn’t one of those RPGs where your character is a proxy of yourself, you are playing a character just as you are playing Geralt in the Witcher trilogy. You can’t say whatever you feel like during dialogue options, you’re character will always carry a specific attitude and personality that you have to adapt to. A semi-short tempered and sometimes overly emotional smart-ass. Plus it’s a bit difficult getting into the events of the story, because this is not a game that will hold your hand in understanding either the characters or events. If you miss some little important detail during dialogue, or choose not to immerse yourself further into the game by reading little digital diaries and little etc. dialogue sections, then too bad, that’s on you. You have to make an effort to understand some of the stuff that’s happening and what’s going on. On the one hand, I appreciate this. Encourages replay so you can pick up on details that you previously missed and proceed with a better understanding. On the other hand, it requires more work and investment on the part of the player. Double-edged sword. But I have to admit, this game bombards you with way too many missions once you’ve done enough post-prologue missions. I mean, Jesus Christ, I kept getting so many fucking phone calls that added another fucking side quest on my “things to do” list that it started reminding me of all the fucking spam calls/texts I get on a cheap Tracphone. Leave me alone and let me finish up the fucking missions I already have piled up on my plate!
Add into this that most of the people in positions of power/authority that you will be dealing with are women (something Witcher 3 had in some respect, which sent off subtle warning signals about CD Projekt Red I tried in vain to ignore), and I started to worry I was going to be consistently surrounded by characters I just wasn’t going to like being around. Now to be fair here, this is a game about what the future would be like, and it does hold relevance regarding the direction we’re going in. A society where white people are most certainly not the majority in the USA anymore (or at least not in Night City, which is basically Los Angeles), where cybernetics and gender re-assignment surgery is commonplace, people are isolated from each other despite walking in a crowd, drugs and prostitution and gang warfare are common in every other block of the city, police are overwhelmed to the point where they allow Cowboy Bebop-inspired bounty hunters to take down criminals and gangs for them (because “I am the law”). Where despite all the technological advances and innovations, society is down in the dumps and worse than ever, partly because of their reliance and indulgence in it. So of course I was prepared to be in an environment where white nationalism is not only absent, but impossible; like it is for the Armenians. But it still irks me to see the trope of women being the ones primarily in charge and the more morally upstanding individuals by comparison (who always seem to have their shit together more often than the men do). I mean, for fuck’s sake, can’t you at least have a women who transitioned into a man giving orders, or vice versa (I say this not having played the entire game yet, so that might still happen)?
But I digress. This isn’t a game that’s going to be considered “Best of All Time” in my personal opinion. But with from what I can deduce so far in my playthrough, this is shaping up to be better than Deus Ex: Human Revolution (not to be confused with the original Deus Ex from the year 2000, that one is in a whole different league) once they get all the bugs figured out. Possibly on-par with Grand Theft Auto 5 (and again, possibly better). It’s shaping up to be a perfectly fun little game. It may be open world, but it’s a guided open world experience where you just follow the quest indicators on the map. My kind of open-world game is something more along the lines of Elex (the original Gothic isn’t too bad either, but you need patience with both the pacing and the control scheme), which in itself is slightly hand-holding with quest indicators, but nowhere near as bad as this. In fact, I think it’s impossible to create an open-world game that doesn’t hold your hand if driving vehicles is an option. Any open-world game where you can drive vehicles around the said open-world can only function with a minimap and some kind of on-screen indicator directing you from point A to point B, because such a world large enough to necessitate the existence of vehicles will be too large for you to walk/run back and forth and get familiar with each area the way the original Gothic game does. It’s a necessary trade-off, unless you don’t want the roads to be as winding and confusing as they are in real life (try driving to an address in Los Angeles without ever having visited the city before).
I would’ve liked to have finished the game prior to making this review, but there’s a problem. I CAN’T FINISH IT! The motherfucking thing won’t even start now! It just plays the intro movie, and then fucking crashes. After 25 hours of play, this shit happens. Fix this bullshit CD Projekt Red!
Mod Wish List
1.) Unofficial Fan Patch. You just know one of these is going to get made if CD Projekt Red drops the ball on fixing bugs with the updates. Well, if they can do it with Witcher 3…
2.) Better sex scenes. Now I did a sex scene by paying to get laid by a hooker. And it’s, well, so-so. … I want to see some penetration!!!
3.) Improved AI. Hell, have improved random vehicle/NPC generation, making them seem like they have a purpose besides just walking like some unnamed extra on a set with no purpose other than walking down the fucking sidewalk.
4.) More interactive world. You can carry a conversation with a few random people littered about the world.
5.) Revamped leveling system. Something tells me they could do better with what options you have when it comes to leveling up and improving your character. It’s fine as is for now, but I suspect it could be better.
6.) Have sex with strangers outside of the 2 “dolls” in that one district, where your choice is limited to a fag and an asian chick. I want more options!
7.) 1st person to 3rd person toggle. So that the game can be played in 3rd person sort of like how Skyrim can. Plus we can get better angles on the sex scenes that way (yes, fucking is that much of a modding priority to me).