Kevin McDowall reviews Cyberpunk 2077 on Stadia…
With nearly 9 years in development, a prestigious studio behind its creation and a mountain of hype for its release, Cyberpunk 2077 is certainly one of the biggest titles to hit the gaming scene in a long time. The launch has been met with some criticism but how does it stack up running the demanding game off a humble Chromecast?
Stadia is slightly different from running on a console. Rather than a buying a bulky expensive box all you need is your phone, a stable internet connection and a controller. You can then stream a game to a screen of your choice through a Chromecast (or even directly onto your phone). I have the ultra model which allows up to 4K streaming on a compatible TV. I’ll get to resolution later but the immediate thing you’ll notice with Stadia is how fast everything loads. Since everything is taken care of on Google’s side you don’t have huge game downloads or patches to worry about, only a fifteen second wait between choosing the game and cruising the streets of Night City.
You start the game with a fairly in depth character customisation screen, setting the usual features such as hair or face. It gets slightly more unusual when you can set features like mechanical details and your (male or female) genital size. There are only two voice choices and this determines what gender people will refer to your character by. You start straight in the dingy El Coyote Cojo bar and immediately the stark art style of this game hits you. Everyone’s dressed somewhere between a punk reject and a deranged prostitute. Neon signs are blaring from a multitude of vending machines and absolutely everything has a super modern mechanical sheen underneath the dirt and muck of future society. You are tasked with stealing a car, a super expensive looking ride but the mission goes south in very quick succession.
Playing the game feels a little different from most first person shooters. There’s a slight ‘looseness’ to the way the controls feel that I cant quite get across. The buttons are also a little odd with different button presses necessary even on the same menu screen. It’s serviceable enough but could have been streamlined a bit. Combat is huge. There are a variety of ways to go about defeating the many cyber freaks you’ll find and the game rewards you for every style. Rush in and blow away gang members with an automatic shotgun, get close and personal with a katana (and the awesome mantis blades), sneak around and use your cyber deck abilities to disable cameras and pesky eyeballs of your foes. It’s all very open and makes playing very entertaining.
Your progression in the game is tied to a daunting array of upgrade paths. You can upgrade every weapon type, your sneaking abilities, raw muscle power, intelligence, hacking and so much more. Then there’s an entire crafting system to plow through to upgrade weapons and the ability to mod guns to your taste on top. Collecting weapons and armour reminds me of a borderlands style collect-a-thon with skirmishes leaving you carrying dozens of guns to scour through: weapon types, DPS, elemental damage and more. Your Cyberdeck also gets plenty of upgrades from turning off a persons robot eyes to turning their own weapons against them.
There are even some more unusual elements I didn’t expect. There’s a very in-depth picture taking mode to capture perfect images for social media. There’s an entire detective mode called Braindancing where you investigate a video recording for sight, sound and IR signatures to help unleash the perfect heist. There is, weirdly, a huge amount of customisation you can do to the controller options from fine tuning each sticks sensitivity to programmable dead zones. Your character is a violent vacuum machine of the night, stealing absolutely everything not nailed down. Everything from used needles, bedroom toys to broken eyeballs can be collected and sold for scrap or crafting materials. There is even a romancing option, with some characters more than willing to go down with you depending on what character choices you made at the start of the game.
One of the most impressive parts of the game is the voice acting. Everybody was on form for their roles and there is so many voiced parts in the game! I went with the female voice during my playthrough and honestly it felt so natural I forgot most of the promotional material show a man for the main role. Personalities you meet such as the upcoming crook Jackie, the memory editing Judy Alvarez, and Keanu Reeves as Johnny Silverhand all make the world feel alive. I’d also mention how dense the game feels. Every street corner has meticulous detail and there is even a large portion of land outside the city to explore.
Now onto the main criticism of the game I think everyone has felt so far: bugs. Thankfully the Stadia version seems to have escaped fairly stable compared to other versions. The bugs I found were pretty minor but rather diverse. After the first hour of the game my character was permanently bald. My clothes would randomly un-equip, leading to a very funny realisation as I looked down and realised I had done entire business meetings and fights completely in the buff (thankfully NPC’s don’t seem at all bothered by full frontal nudity). More annoying was during heavy combat scenes. More than once my character lost the ability to draw her weapons at all. Other times you have your guns out but for whatever reason they would not reload (despite plenty of ammo). Sometimes the car would not let me in. Tutorial pop ups would just stay on the screen permanently. These could almost all be fixed thankfully by saving and reloading the game but were pretty immersion breaking, especially in a game like this. Not so much a bug but the field of view in the game felt a little cramped and there didn’t seem to be any way to change it at the moment.
For final thoughts, this is one hell of an ambitious game that tries to deliver a lot more than similar titles but just struggles at the very last push. The gameplay is even more in depth than something like Deus Ex, but the world itself just lacks those personal moments that made Deus Ex so memorable. There is so much customisation but you can probably complete the game without touching 90% of it. Collecting feels very Borderlands but lacks the snappy collect-a-thon feel due to having to look very closely at anything to pick it up. The graphics were exceptional throughout and stadia delivered a stable 4k signal the entire time. This is definitely a generation defining game but it’ll still need some polish before it can become truly legendary.
- Voice Acting
- Keanu Reeves
- Very daunting at first
- Quite buggy
Cyberpunk 2077 is out now on Stadia, Xbox Series X, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.
Kevin McDowall – You can follow me on Twitter – @robotsintheshed