Another day, another photo trip down the ol’ Yakuza lane. Today we have Yakuza Kiwami 2 to look through. This is the game where the hostess job really came into shape. The first image is of my main girl, Koyuki. She’s just the best and I challenge anyone out there to challenge the throne!
While this was another great game in the franchise, and the story was great. The one thing I really do remember about this title is the hostess club. I really wanted to customize my girl and get her all maxed out and it shows. Such a great Japanese style game and I love it more for being true to itself.
I originally played through Shenmue 2 on the XBox when it came out in 2001, so it’s been a solid 20 years since I last checked in on Ryo Hazuki. The most interesting part of playing this game is just how small and insignificant it makes the first game feel, which I wasn’t expecting. That’s because when I remember back to playing these games I had all these great memories of playing through the first Shenmue, with it’s engrossing story and memorable scenes, with the second game being little more than a footnote in my memory.
To put all this into context, Shenmue 1 is the first chapter of the saga. Shenmue 2 covers chapters 3 to 5. The missing chapter 2 is a comic book story that covers the boat trip Ryo takes after he left Yokosuka, Japan. It makes sense when I go back to my review of Shenmue and take note of how short the story is and how it basically just feels like it’s the opening to a grander story, because that’s exactly what it is.
Shenmue 2 takes place in Hong Kong and then ventures a bit into mainland China in the final, brief, chapter of the game. This is probably where I have one of my biggest complaints about this game, the location. It feels a little odd that the game went into Hong Kong in these chapters. I feel a personal disconnect from what I felt when playing Shenmue 1, perhaps it’s my own bias towards Japanese architecture and culture.
When you get off the boat at the beginning of the game you’re in Aberdeen harbor, it’s honestly one of the ugliest locations in a video game I’ve seen in a while. The buildings are all this horribly textured red brick. The lack of geometric detail and lighting, combined with low quality texture work, just makes the whole image hard to look at. It starts to get a little better as the game progresses, but even then you’re mainly inside large buildings with repeating geometry and texture work.
Yes, this game is pretty ugly to look at. Some of the NPCs will make you laugh because of the way they’re represented. It almost feels like the Japanese developers are kind of taking the piss out of the Chinese people in their game. You do have to take into consideration that this game is a port, not a remake. It was originally developed for the Dreamcast and Microsoft made a deal to get distribution rights for the XBox in the States, which means the game models aren’t improved or anything for this title.
I went back and forth on being impressed that a Dreamcast could render scenes in such detail, but other times I was really scratching my head at just how bad things looked back then. I can really see a remake of these games with the Dragon Engine from the Yakuza developers Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio. I would personally love a complete remaster, but I don’t see a world where that would be financially viable for a studio to commit those levels of resources and money for this brand.
So let’s talk about playing the game. The map system is almost completely useless here. You first need to buy a map for each and every area you load into. The city is broken up into multiple parts, so one map will not be enough. The names of building will not be on this map, they simply give you something in the corner of your screen to orient yourself with. If you want to find a specific place, you have to ask people for directions or find a map directory in the world that you can zoom into and look for your destination. I ended up just pulling up a map on my laptop and keeping that up, way easier.
A big complaint that I had on the first game was the amount of time I waisted just sitting around killing time as I waited for the next scheduled event to take place. In this game that’s almost completely eliminated. You can fast travel in specific instances, it’ll always give you the option to wait and speed up time. If you run out the clock on a day it’ll bring you back to your resting spot, then the next morning, it’ll give you the option to continue from yesterday and warp you back. It’s nice to see the evolution and problem solving at work. If you just want the story then this is a great quality of life feature added over the first game.
The fighting is better than it is in the first game. In Shenmue I felt like I had almost no control over a fight and just smashed the same few attacks and I’d eventually win the match. There’s a bit more strategy involved in this one, especially when you get to the later parts of the game and have to do a series of street fights to progress. It’s by no means a great fighting system. You wont have fun doing it and you wont look forward to fighting at all. Just keep at it and you’ll get through it.
Let’s not even get into the QTEs and how stupid they are. You have to do button presses at various story moments and fight sequences. This is not a good mechanic that holds up to the test of time. It was meant to provide a more cinematic experience but really it just frustrates the player if they mess up. You end up not caring about what’s happening because all you’re doing is trying to input a dumb sequence of button presses so you don’t have to start the whole sequence over again. This is a slam against all instances of QTE throughout all video games, it is simply a commentary on how they were implemented in this title.
If you intend to play this game I recommend that you use a guide to get you through the story. I don’t have time in my life to play this game the way you were supposed to when it came out. I don’t want to run around asking people where to go and piece together all the clues. Modern games would just give you waypoints on your next objective, pointing you to a restaurant you’ve never been to, this game makes you figure all that out yourself. I didn’t just want to beat this game or see the story, I was aiming to get the platinum trophy for both Shenmue 1 & 2 so I followed a trophy guide. Luckily, it was a fairly straightforward platinum and doesn’t require you to have to do a bunch of extra tasks, which is really nice.
I did come to this game for the story. I wanted to play through all three titles just to see what happens at the end of the third game. I think I owed it to my younger self to experience all the Shenmue that I can and to at least get the platinum trophy in the first two games. I’ve been looking at what’s involved for the third game and I’m not sure I care that much about collecting herbs, but I’ll see what happens when I get there.
What can I really say about the story in this game? It’s slightly better than the first game. I’m simply talking about the story itself here, not the way it’s presented or anything like that. There’s a bit more action towards the end of the game that really makes you feel like you’re actually in the second act of the game. Things are happening, granted, there all happening in a 17 story building that seems to go on forever and everything looks the same. You start to learn about the mirrors and what they do. Some mystical/magical things happen with the mirror that isn’t physically possible. Lan Di is talked about a lot and you get to see him at the end battle, but he’s not involved and just hangs off a ladder attached to a helicopter. This is literaly the weirdest game ever made.
The final chapter of the game has you going into mainland China to rescue a girl in a river chasing a deer. She seems to have magical capabilities or something and keeps reciting a poem that references you coming to her. You get to run around a forest for what seems like forever. You see the Shenmue tree and use a sword and the mirror to make a sword float in mid air. What does it all mean?!
Do you see what I’m saying? I have no idea. This is what I was left with 20 years ago, an image of this. This is what all of us Shenmue fans had to go on. Then Yu Suzuki crowdfunds a sequel to this game and it gets greenlit. I hope he can wrap up this story in the sequel because I really don’t think he’s going to get another shot at it.
Final Score – 7.1
I think it’s a better game than the original. As hard as it is for me to say that it is a better game. The setting and the sheer volume of memes from the first game make it more memorable by a mile. Is this a good game that people should actually play in 2021 though? No. Only people with a soft spot for this series should even think about going back to these games. It’s fascinating to see what they were trying to do with the technology they had at the time. They were clearly overambitious and bit off more than they could chew. If you have never experienced a Shenmue game then you really need to give it a try, it’s interesting for sure.
I played this game back at the end of January of this year and just needed to put some words down about it. I did play this game when it was first released on the Playstation 2, and I still have my copy locked up with my old games. It was originally released back in 2005 and fans were clamoring for a remake ever since. This version was put out for the PS4 and I ended up playing it on my PS5.
What makes this game special in my mind has a lot to do with how slight it feels. The game can be beaten in one day, easily. There is no voice acting and hardly any story at all. The bosses can be killed relatively easily. This all works together to encapsulate the feeling you get from playing this game, which is unique. A lot of modern games are just so bloated that any sort of feeling you might have is eroded away through a constant grind of game mechanics that are solely there to keep you playing.
This title respects your time and doesn’t try to do more than it has to. You quickly grow an attachment to your character and horse. It feels wrong what you’re doing to these colossi, but destroy them you must for the princess is what matters most to your character. That feeling you get from playing the game pulls you through the journey of your character and by the end of it you can honestly say that you’ve had an emotional connection to the story. Not a lot of games can make that claim.
This title is special. The remaster done by BluePoint is fantastic, it’s a beautiful looking game that plays great on the PS5. The controls and camera can be frustrating at times, but if you’re grown up with this title you know exactly what you’re in for. I didn’t attempt to get the platinum trophy or anything like that, not really necessary for me to feel good about this game.
Final Score – 8.3
This is a rare style of game that draws an emotional response from the player using minimal storytelling elements. Those limitations help make it one of the more memorable titles you can play. A true classic and something all gamers should experience.
This is one of those PlayStation first party games that I didn’t think I’d ever play. It’s hard getting the motivation to play open-world games, especially if you already play each new Assassin’s Creed game that comes out. Add that to the growing list of other games, like Ghost of Tsushima, Red Dead Redemption 2, etc. It’s a lot, they take up a massive amount of players time and did Sony first-party really need to dip their toes in those waters?
That was until I finished up Cyberpunk 2077 and wanted to start using my PS5 again. I’m talking about a new console months after the generational shift, and I haven’t played a game on it for over a month. If you sit down with that thing it doesn’t have that many native games to play, I’ve already played Demon’s Soul and Astro Bot, what else is left? So I had to start digging into my back catalogue and see what tickled my fancy. Days gone is one of the titles included in the PlayStation Plus free game program they have with PS5 so that made my barrier to entry super easy. Going in, I had faint memories of the early E3 presentation, where they showed off the hoard at the saw mill, and I recalled something about having to find your wife, dead or alive. That’s basically all I knew about the game.
*** SPOILER WARNING ***
I’ll start with graphics because why not? This game looks really nice on my PS5, even for a PS4 game that doesn’t have any real patches for next-gen. It does allow you to run the game at 60fps in resolution mode, so it feels good to move around and it’s really sharp. Honestly, playing this game and going around the open world made me give a little shout out of respect to what the PS4 was capable of, it impressed me. The frame rate will drop here and there, causing little stutters, but those honestly happen in the most random places. It probably just needs a proper patch to take advantage of all the PS5 features, since it only runs in back-compat mode those things are locked out for the game. The good thing is that I never felt any sluggishness when going up against a hoard.
The world is the shining star in graphical department. The game takes place in the mountains and lakes of Oregon. It gives the game a natural feel so you don’t get office buildings made of football fields of glass, just a lot of good old fashioned wood. It’s rendered well using the Unreal Engine, which comes as a big surprise for a first party Sony game, since they usually opt to use proprietary engines for their games. Wonder how they felt about paying a licensing fee for this title, or perhaps their investment in Epic allowed them to skirt around that issue.
Character models are really hit or miss for me. The main cast of characters are okay, with one or two standouts besides the main protagonist. Animations are also in that B tier category, they get the job done but don’t really stand out in any way. The real star of the show is the hoards.
Coming over a hill and seeing your first hoard out in the middle of nowhere is a real treat. It’s pretty rare that a game while come up with something that surprises you like this one, especially on the bigger hoards. These hoards come in all different sizes, increasing the further south you go. When you see that first large hoard, maybe you try something that you think might work, like lure them into a group and chuck a few grenades at them, that should do it. You come to find out that all you got was about 10% of the group and the rest start rushing at you as you attempt to shoot them with everything you have. Once you have the scope truly down you can start to think logically and plan out your attacks. The sheer number of enemies on screen at one time is remarkable to see. I do think the game could have stood out on it’s own with just small groups of freakers, but having these massive hoards to battle really makes it stand out in a crowded field of releases. They become the star of the show and I give them a lot of credit for doing it on the PS4.
Deacon St. John is one of the worst characters in video games. It just needs to be said. He is one of the worst protagonists that I have ever had the privilege to control. I don’t think I’ve ever felt such a disconnect with who a person is and how they represent themselves than I did with this man. It’s not that he was in a biker gang and talks about his cut (jacket) all the time, or has hands full of the most ridiculous rings imaginable. It was that his personality, or lack of, came out constantly when he tried to speak. He’s played by actor Sam Witwer, who I also am not the biggest fan of, which is all a shame because I really enjoyed the story surrounding this character. I just wish he wasn’t such an idiotic douche all the time.
Deacon is a biker boy who loves to ride his hog and his woman, all while treating everyone around him like they’re annoying idiots.
The game starts off, like all good fiction these days, with a zombie apocalypses. Your injured wife is placed on a helicopter with a man in a hazmat suit who promises to take her to a safe camp. You stay back with your other injured friend, Boozer, so you can help him get to the camp and meet back up with your woman. Needless to say, things happen, you don’t find her and think she’s dead, you and Boozer both survive for two full years. That’s where the gameplay part of the game picks up and you’re left to fend for yourself as you try to leave Oregon and move on with your life. Only to find that the hazmat guy is still alive and perhaps your wife, Sarah, is too.
What a nice little premise for a game. How is this hazmat guy still alive? Shit, your wife maybe alive as well? Sold!
So the problem I had with Deacon is that he’s so stupid and annoying. Pretty simple, right? He treats everyone around him with such irreverence, he just blows everyone off. You’ll get to a camp and help them out over multiple missions, building up friendships with people that you, as the player, grow attached to. Only to have Deacon act like a 15 year old child with mood issues one second later. These people are actually nice to you, they don’t want to kill you, you’re helping them build a community, and then you just get the stinger of him being a dick. It makes so little sense, I can see how it could make sense If I inferred into his character a whole lot, but that’s not my job, the story should have conveyed that aspect to his personality. If the main character is going to act like an idiot and just treat nice people like shit all the time, give me a little more setup to why his mind works this way. Maybe something happened in the two year gap between the opening and the game. None of it is explained to any level of satisfaction so it all comes off as crass. It might also just be the way the actor chose to portray Deacon, like he had a bad take on the character.
I get that not every person or character in a work of fiction should, or would be the most elegant of speakers and communicators. It just needs to be setup to the player in a better way. As the game went on there was just more of a disconnect between Deacon and I, he’d pull up to a camp that he had to clear out and literally yell out that it’s full of murders and rapists and shit like that, and that they all have to die, like calm down dude. I get that they’re bad, but every time you pull up to one of these camps he says the same exact thing, it’s a little comical.
That issue get’s more into the performance of Deacon, which is half of the equation I feel. The actor, Sam Witwer, is just not good in this role, or the way he was directed is off. I’ve never really been a fan of that actor and I feel like this role just does nothing for him. The vocal audio is mixed incorrectly most of the time, where characters are either speaking really softly while giving a speech to a group around a raging bonfire, or they’re just yelling at each other in a way that makes no sense for the scenario on screen. The sound design for the voices could have been handled way better.
Part of the issue comes from the type of game this is. You’re, for the most part, a lonely guy going out into this open world to kill things. Your main action in the game is to shoot bad things. You spend a lot of time with your main character, with that comes a level of connection and understanding you could say. This is what video games are all about, being a character in a foreign world, living out an experience only achievable in this form of entertainment. Dozens of hours looking at them in the center of your screen as you roam around on adventures. I just had a disconnect with how shitty I felt he was. How he’d barely answer a question, rarely ever get personal, would shut down emotionally constantly, and treated friendly people like crap. I kept wanting him to do more, say more, be more, but he was just Deacon.
What I liked
Even though I just shat all over the main character of the game, I really got into the story of this game. It starts you off in a small region of the map, doing mission after mission helping out the local camps in the region. I initially thought that this was going to be the whole game. That it was just going to take place on this, relatively small and manageable sized map, which felt oddly refreshing and quaint. Come to find out that no, you get to open up another large area and then another after that. So the game was a lot bigger than I thought it was going to be.
The length of the story felt a little off to me. It seems to be broken up in three parts and they are all longer than I thought they would be. I did do every mission as they came up, so perhaps I was doing a lot of side content that didn’t really matter if you only care about the main storyline. The third part is when you get to the Wizard’s Island and discover that your wife is still alive and kicking. Which is awesome! I love that you got to find out in this game and that you got to spend a good chunk of the ending focusing on your relationship with her. She even ends up being a way better character than the blunt instrument of Deacon. I was interested in the scientific research that she was still working on, which is a way to actually reverse the zombie infection, not kill it. You get to visit her old lab and see what’s come of it. Mysteries reveal themselves and new ones form. It pulls you in, if you’re hooked as I was, and really makes you want to finish the game.
The thing I wasn’t expecting is that all the mysteries that surround the freakers are not resolved by the end of the game. It felt like they had so many plot threads and the game was already so long that they just cut a bunch of them so they could focus on wrapping up a handful of smaller ones. It does leave the title wide open for a sequel, which I really did not expect coming in. If you keep playing after you beat the game you’ll even get to find out what’s happening to the hazmat guy that you’ve been in contact with throughout the whole game, and why he’s still in a hazmat suit. That’s where the real intrigue comes into play and makes me want to see what will happen in the sequel, which I hope they make. It’d be really cool to see what they can do with a freaker horde running on the PS5 natively. It’s what makes this game stand out form The Last of Us, a game that doesn’t care to answer how it happened or how to fix it, the intrigue in Days Gone is the mystery behind how it happened and if it can be fixed.
I also really liked the gameplay. You get around by riding your custom motorcycle through the land while being mindful of the amount of fuel in your tank, making sure to top it of off wherever you can get some fuel. The combat and weapons felt like a nice 3rd person action game. I had favorite weapons out of the growing arsenal at my disposal that I’d keep on me at all time, turning my character into a zombie and human killing machine. You can mix up gun combat with the strategic use of remote and motion activated bombs, Molotov cocktails, and a form of napalm. You can use lures to draw in large crowds and funnel them where you wanted, then blow them all up. At the end of the game, when you’re allowed to free roam, dozens of hoards appear all over the map that you can take down. It’s just a good way to finish leveling up, go take on a hoard, earn more XP and go for that platinum trophy. Every single one of them is slightly unique and fun to do. I ended up getting the platinum since I enjoyed playing the game and it wasn’t that much of a grind.
Final Score – 8.2
I enjoyed this game more than I thought I would. I loved the mystery around the story and I want to know what the hell is going on with O’Brian. I just wish the main character had a personality facelift since he took me out of the game way too much. The gameplay was great, fighting humans and hordes all felt good. The progression system, from skills to weapons, kept me looking forward to the next unlock. A proper PS5 patch would be nice to see, but it’s not the one I’m hurting the most to have. If you have a PS5 and Plus, along with some time to get into a game, definitely give this game a shot.
I ran through this game in just a couple of days and got the platinum trophy on it before Cyberpunk 2077 hit. I was able to get it for cheap in a PlayStation Sale and just had to go through it since I loved the Resident Evil 2 Remake so much.
Now, I haven’t played Resident Evil since it came out on the PlayStation 1. Most people, I suspect, have never played it. I never felt like it was one of the beloved sequels in the series, kind of like Code Veronica, so it didn’t get the rerelease treatment often. I was a kid at the time and played it at my friends house. Back then we used to play shitty Sega CD games and speed run Resident Evil: Directors Cut, but I only remember playing this game a little bit so just about everything about it was new to me.
Just before getting into this game though, I went back to my Resident Evil 2 Remake game and got the last remaining trophies and finished up the platinum on it. I was on a bit of a roll I guess you could say. I had already heard when this game was released that it was shorter than 2, but I didn’t really understand how much that was true. It’s not that it bothered me or anything, It would have if I had paid full price though (I believe it cost 60USD on release). It’s definitely not worth that release price, especially if they’re going to release little nickel-and-dime DLC to unlock extra costumes and shit like that. It’s a bit bullshit and one of the reasons I sat on the game for so long and waited for a sale.
So right off the bat I love the way the Jill character model looks in this game. I just think there is an ineffable quality about her look that is just so well done. It’s only slightly let down by some of the lighting and animation work, but the look of the model itself is great. I feel like she’s one of the more beautiful women in gaming today, there is just something about her that makes me want to keep looking at her face. The French would call it “je ne sais quoi”, it just grabs my attention more than a lot of other female protagonists in gaming. I can just respect the choice of look they went with here, it’s definitely not how I remember Jill looking in the original. In this game, she’s a complete badass that doesn’t take any bullshit from the men around her. On the other side of the coin you have Carlos and his massive head of hair, it’s insane.
The game itself is modeled closely on the remake of 2, except now you get a dodge move. You basically just have to take the 2nd game, remove almost all puzzle solving from it and make it an hour shorter and this is the game you get. It’s so streamlined it almost makes it a speed runners game. That’s exactly what I liked most about the game too. There’s something about a game with good mechanics like this where you can just blow through it in 90 minutes.
What that does is it forces you to learn the patterns of each level or section, so the next time you run through it you automatically know where to go and how to deal with all the enemies. Granted, that’s only if you’re going for the trophies. If you’re not you’re just getting a short little action movie of a game, which may be disappointing to some. It would have made a good rental game.
I didn’t approach the game like that at all, I watched the story the first time and skipped it every other. I was able to unlock the rocket launcher as a starter weapon, which helped me on subsequent playthroughs. I did a run without accessing the item chest which added another degree of complication to one of my speed runs. I actually just found it fun to run through the game so much. It truly felt like being a speed runner. I tend to only play a game once these days, games are getting so fucking long that you don’t get the opportunity to just play through them more than once, or for this game more than once in a day.
The trickiest thing about RE3 had to be the last boss on the hardest difficulty, that guy was a bit of a fucker. I did have a good tip that I think others should follow, which is to listen out for a particular sound to push in the charging cells. If you time it right you can skip one of his attack animations, making the fight a lot easier.
I thought the game would use a lot more of the locations from the 2 remake, but you basically just get a little bit of the police station and the street out front. It’s not like the locations really impressed me that much in this game. It was all kind of toned down in the excitement level. Nothing really stood out to me. The whole opening section around the train station and the streets surrounding it were a little forgetful. The coolest part was probably the big head above the store, but even then it didn’t wow me.
The hospital in the later portion of the game tries to complicate it up a little bit, but you can literally just blow through it with relative ease. You don’t get that Resident Evil puzzle solving, figuring out how to open doors thing. Sure, you have to get the tape player and the tape, but just open all the rooms and look around, you’re not going to miss anything. That’s all fine though, that’s not what this game is about. We got all that in the last game.
What I really liked about the story and where this game goes is when it starts interweaving into the events of the second game. It was cool to see how the timelines fit together and really make this seem like a more cohesive package with the 2nd remake.
The boss battels, I felt, weren’t really that much of a challenge (except the last on the hardest difficulty). If you play the game right, you’re going to get the rocket launcher in your chest for your other playthroughs. It doesn’t even cause your rating to decrease so you kind of need/have to use it. Except for the playthrough you do without opening the chest, which is fun. You have a dodge move which makes maneuvering the boss arenas a lot easier, if the nemesis comes at you and you’re good at timing your rolls you shouldn’t have a problem. The arenas were memorable, particularly where he’s running around in circles on the walls and the last when you finally kill it, which was awesome.
Final Score – 8.5
There really isn’t much else to say about this game. Listen, if you liked the 2nd remake then you’ll dig this one. Just know it’s super short and try to go for the trophies because they really add to the fun and enjoyment you get out of this title. Isn’t that a weird thing to say? With most other games the trophies are a grind and don’t add to your overall enjoyment, this title is the complete opposite. If you don’t care about trophies, you’re going to want to wait for a deep discount on the PlayStation store before pulling the trigger. If you can understand and see how the trophies push you to enjoy the game in ways you might not naturally seek out, you might find that you get a nice challenge and some more time out of this game.
You could call the last month with this game a train wreck in how not to release a title, a wild ride, or just another video game that was released. I haven’t delved into all the drama of this games release because it didn’t really affect me that much. I wrote about how I bounced out of the PS4/5 version of the game just before launch and decided to play it on my PC. I got a refund before it was even launched, talk about a trend-setter. That was clearly the right choice to make and I don’t want to take anything away from the struggles and shitty experience players on other systems are experiencing. We can see now that this title was clearly meant to be played on PC and I’m lucky enough to have the ability to do just that. The big thing I want to go into is, did this game live up to my expectations, and is it a masterpiece that will forever change role playing games.
I went into the game wanting a challenging and rewarding experience, so I decided to start on Very Hard difficulty. I wanted my decisions to matter as much as possible and I didn’t want to blow through enemies like they were nothing. That was my mentality going in and I’ll dive into if that actually lived up to expectations. I also picked the Corpo path since it felt like the more “cyberpunk” route to go. Having finished the game, it does feel like my character really was a Corpo. It makes me wonder more and more about the other two paths and how those affect the gameplay and dialogue choices. It’s engrained in who my character is and the game did a great job at implementing that choice.
The game has a decent character creator, where I was allowed to make my female V. I gave her a vagina and the perfect size breasts and an attractive face with an edgy hairstyle. She looked pretty cool to me. There wasn’t a lot of body customization as I thought there was going to be. No changing arms into robotic parts, coloring sections of your skin, or really having a wild time making a synthe’d out V that is super unique. It’s all a bit locked up and slightly disappointing in that regard. It makes me want to create a mod with a bunch of different options for others to mess with. You’ll come into contact with other characters that have modified their bodies in more extreme ways, but none of those options are given to you.
I’m going to jump right into the graphics section of this review since I spent a lot of my early time with the game doing just that. I’ve never spent this much time in a games graphics menu. For reference, I have a 12 core 3900x CPU and an RTX 2070 Super with 64GB of RAM and a 3440 ultra-wide GSync monitor.
For the longest time I jumped into the graphics and turned ray tracing on and off while changing the amount of DLSS used. The issue is that I could turn on ray tracing in one scene, either just a setting like reflections or every RTX option available, and the game would give decent frame rates that felt playable. I’d go like 10 minutes and be in a new area and drop to 20 FPS all of a sudden. So I’d have to jump into the menu and turn off ray tracing and my frames would jump up to 75. I would constantly go back and forth between ray tracing and using optimized settings, I wanted to see what the experience was like with RTX on and how playable it really was.
I found that the game really does need more granular controls of how ray tracing works. Instead of just having a reflection slider that turns it on and off, add another slider under it that controls the amount of rays used for reflections, allow me to only use a quarter of the rays, apply a filter on them and smooth out the reflections a bit. I’ll still get the affects of ray traced reflections but at a less dramatic hit to the resources of the card. It would be a similar situation to how Battlefield changed the resolution of their reflections after the game came out. These RTX cards are only at the beginning of the technology and could use a bit more help to make the game really playable at a decent frame rate.
A good thing about the graphics is that it’s so easy and fast to change any of the settings, turning ray tracing on and off is instantly applied and you can just get back into the game. There’s a bit of a hitch and the graphics have to switch over from full rasterization to ray traced but it’s not bad at all.
One thing I immediately noticed and was worried about is how blurry your character looks in the menu and in reflections. I found that if you run the game in with DLSS on, your character is being rendered at a lower resolution, even with reflection quality turned all the way up. So if you play with ray tracing and DLSS to gain a bit of performance back, your character will look like a blurry mess in mirrors and the menu. This might not bother some, but I had an issue with it. This actually started putting me over the edge in the ray tracing and I would eventually just turn it off completely (for the most part). I just wanted my character to look crisp and clean and having RTX off allowed me to put DLSS at quality or even off with playable FPS.
I noticed in those reflections that my character was definitely not as good looking as I thought she was. There was definitely a disconnect between the character creator and what you see in mirrors and when you look down at your body. The way the lighting works on the face just made her look a little jacked up, which was not what I wanted.
The games graphics are really nice as an overall package. It’s great knowing that this game can’t just be played at maxed out settings on my computer. That means when I upgrade to a future graphics card, if they’re available at MSRP, that I can get an even better product and gives me more of an incentive to replay the game. PC games need to be pushing the envelope a lot more often. It’s a little sad when Doom comes out and you can immediately crank up all the settings and get 200 fps. They’re leaving a lot on the table and the title could have looked that much better, both now and in the future.
What Is This Game?
The biggest question I had when starting this game is how is it going to be played, what’s the meat and potatoes of it all? Does it resemble other games I’ve played or are we talking about a completely revolutionary title that pushes the envelope?
This is where my first real disappointment of the game stems from. The game is basically a Fallout style game combined with Deus Ex. That’s kind of it. I really did not expect this from the game. I did not expect to free roam a map, find a mission, enter a building and kill everyone while picking up everything in the room. Selling items I collected for cash, or scraping them for resources to use in crafting.
If I was to honestly describe what I thought the game would be, perhaps I was fooled by the hype I built up from the trailers, but I thought it was going to be the most immersive game ever made. I was expecting an insanely in-depth mechanical game where story and characters were intertwined at every move. Think The Last of Us crossed with a completely open world. Where character animations blended smoothly with every environmental interaction. Romance options with characters that had depth and complexity unlike anything I’ve seen before. Fight mechanics that used “cyberpunk” tropes to create unique and engaging combat scenarios that made me truly feel like the character of V. Scripted combat sequences were enemies would team up and use cool cyberpunk mechanics to try and destroy me.
All I can say to all that is that the game is a video game. It doesn’t transcend any of those areas I mentioned. It is not the genre defining game that shakes the industry and raises the bar for what this style of game can be. While I’m disappointed in saying that, the game we got is more realistic in the hype scale and was still enjoyable to play, so I can’t be that upset at it.
The character models in this game are all great. It’s pretty amazing that a game of this type can have so many great looking character models that are completely unique from each other. Every important character in the game is their own unique model, no Fallout style character creator people to worry about here.
What I also found impressive about the character models are the random NPCs that fill out the city. While interactions with these characters are comically limited, the look of them are all way above board. I found myself just stopping to check them out, look at their clothes and the quality of their models. It feels like a new standard was set by this game in this regard, I only wish the lighting was a tad better on these characters.
The amount of immersion you feel when playing this game is really uneven for me. Just take one example of visiting Vik, one of your ripperdocs that can alter your body to improve different aspects. The first time you visit him he makes a modification to your body and he’s talking to you and performing the “surgery” using his special ripperdoc equipment. It makes you feel like your character is really changing. People spent time on this scene and it’s important for your character development, it means something (Again, this is also a scene shown in previous trailers). If you leave him and go to any ripperdoc in the world, or even back to Vik for that matter, for another upgrade, all you do is select one from a menu and your done. There is no animation or talk about the mod, how it will change your body. The attention to detail and world building ends there. Why not add some flavor text, have the doc talk about how you’ll feel with these upgrades, or express concern for your health if you make too many changes. Just think about watching Ellie in The Last of Us 2 working on her guns at the upgrade bench and how that attention to detail brings you in and makes the experience of your weapon evolution more personal.
To help turn that around, perhaps they should had 90 percent less pickups in the environment, but make the ones you find that much more important. Make super unique items that mean something and have specific lines or dialogue and animation. Give it a history. Make the lake wider, not just as deep as possible. Bring a level of immersion reserved for a bespoke small game and expand it to a game the size of Cyberpunk 2077.
While there is a lot of dialogue in the game, the recording quality seems to fluctuate to a degree as to become distracting. I don’t remember ever playing a game where the tone in dialogue changes so frequently from line to line. I can only imagine that the dialogue was recorded out of order over a long period of time with little care to the overall scene. It feels like an AI did the dialogue at some points. One sentence will portray a laid back tone and the next will just be yelling because that’s where the tone was supposed to be shifted in that line reading. It doesn’t present in a natural way were an actor reads the lines and gradually ramps up the anger. Instead, you can feel the mechanics of the dialogue process. It’s like I know how they recorded the lines and I can see the process behind it, there is less craft and more mechanics.
One of the best aspects of the game and the reason I put over 80 hours into it over the last month or so is the side missions. I did every single one of the side missions before even attempting the last mission of the game. In fact, once I got to that point I only had one mission to actually break off and do before returning.
What’s so great about the side missions are that they all involve a specific building or area in the game world. They feel like these little single-player levels where you have to clear out a building or get to a computer terminal to upload a virus or something. If I wanted to be sneaky I found that I could always get away with it without getting spotted, or if I wanted to perch up somewhere and do some sniping then I could do that also. There are typically multiple ways to do any side mission and it just depends on the way you spec your character. I kind of thought there should be more, but perhaps I’m just living in a weird time period that is distorting reality for me.
Those missions are almost always provided to you by going near a particular building, where you fixer for the area will hit you up and give you a little exposition on what the situation is. It makes for a fairly straightforward affair that is easy to jump in and out of without worrying about anything else. Makes for picking up and playing a bit each day an easy and satisfying affair.
The issue I had with side quests that made me feel a little let down had to do more with The Witcher 3 and what I got from that game. I remember so many more side stories from a game I finished years ago that this game I just finished. It has to do with the way it was so much about the characters, people like the Bloody Baron, were so integral in every aspect of those quest lines. They were also more fleshed out, their stories felt personal and they stick with you in a way I feel like Cyberpunk 2077 never truly achieves. This is because of the writing, sure, but also in the way the game tells its narratives.
Here you can meet with a person who will tell you a bit about your mission, perhaps you’ll sit in a chair in front of them and pick some dialogue options to get started on your mission. There are no cinematic camera angles, everything stays in first-person perspective. This would be okay if they instead did more with character and facial animation of these NPCs in your quests. I was never once sold on a performance as I am in games like The Last of Us or oven The Witcher 3. Jackie was probably the best this game offered in that regards, and probably because he was in the early demos (sense a pattern?). There is too much of a disconnect between the players character of V and the environment around you and the interactions you have with other main characters in the game.
While this maybe seems like a bit of a nitpick to some, it truly is where I feel this game lets me down the most. You take the mission shown in the gameplay reveal, where you find the naked woman in the bathtub in the shitty apartment building and have to extract her to the medical team on the balcony. The player character gets into the bathroom, notices the woman is in the tub and is animated moving the male body off her and holding her, V then jacks in and eventually picks her up from the tub, there is movement and expression. Your partner Jackie throws a medical device to you and you use it on her, all animated together immersing you into the world and the characters at the same time. This is the immersion I expected the whole game to convey and express, it just isn’t the case in the slightest.
Listen, I get that this stuff is hard. It’s a lot of work that needs talented people and a lot of time to animate and implement. I just thought the massive scale of this games development and the incredibly talented people working on it would have brought this level of immersion to the table. Let me take that back a bit, the people working on the game are not to blame, they’ve crunched an insane amount on this title and I’m sure they did their best. The higher-ups are more to blame, they should have given more time, planned better, and even outsourced more (if that was the game they wanted to make).
Most of the side missions are brought to you by a fixer, with each section of the city having a different fixer for their respective turf. Your interactions with these fixers, which are supposed to take the place of people like the Bloody Baron (I’m guessing), don’t live up to that level of immersion and care. It works as a method of delivering great nuggets of side missions but they don’t truly draw you into your character and the world. They end up just being this little characters in a box yapping at you, telling you that you did a great job and your eddies should be in your account shortly.
It feels like I’m just shitting on this game left and right and now I have to talk about the romance in the game. Listen, I played as a female V and I fell, I mean my character fell, madly in love with Judy Alverez. She’s clearly the sexiest and coolest person in the game and is my one and only. I was able to hang out with her on multiple occasions and even had a romantic night by the lake with her were we finally went all the way. It was a great night and she even invited me to use her apartment whenever I wanted. I went to visit her there, wanting to spend some more time with her, It’s a game and I wanted to role play. She’s now my girlfriend and we can enjoy each others company and continue our wild romance, it wasn’t even out of some pervy “let’s have sex because this is a video game” thing. I really do just like Judy and wanted our story to get deeper.
Turns out Judy wasn’t having any of it. Check out her (our) apartment, we have one little bed in the bedroom and the other room is used for her computers. Every time I go over to visit her, and I’ve done this at multiple parts in the story to see if anything changes, she’s just chilling by the window. Go up and talk to her and her dialogue boxes are all greyed out since we’ve already talked as much as we can. There’s literally nothing else to learn about her. We can’t sit on the couch and watch TV together, be intimate together or anything. I can’t even kiss her again. We had one crazy night and then that’s it. Not including what happens at the end of the story (no spoilers) and doesn’t really count for anything in my mind.
It’s a huge letdown when I realized that every time I went to her place it would just be the same thing. If felt so pointless, you feel this connection and then you just run into a wall with it. Perhaps you’re just supposed to find another person to romance and work towards that instead, but I didn’t want to cheat on my girl. I get that this game isn’t a dating simulator or something like that, but they could have at least gone just a little bit further with the dialogue or something.
Inventory System and Crafting
The inventory system in the game needs to be discussed, mostly because you’ll spend a lot of time in it so it deserves some attention. I don’t really have an issue with it overall, I just think it could be improved a lot and that’s where my discussion will focus because it will cover a few key areas. The first issue is something I poked at earlier, the resolution of the character when you’re in your inventory, it made me turn off DLSS or keep it to the quality setting so my character looked sharp. Perhaps DLSS doesn’t work in the menu and that’s what’s happening, not sure but interesting.
I spec’d into the crafting system because I wanted to craft those juicy legendary weapons and all that. The issue was that I only maxed out my crafting tree at the end of the game. So I really just did a little extra at the end for the last mission. I wish I had more of an opportunity to craft more and use all those skills. I get that it’s partly my problem and if I went about things in a different way I could have gotten more of a use out of the skill tree. Also sucks that I don’t have any more side missions to do because what’s the point of crafting bomb ass weapons if you’re done with the game? New game plus?
Let’s also let players mark your items as junk so that when you hit up the shop you can sell it all with a press of the button. We need way more variety in options, take a page out of the Diablo 3 playbook. Have me lock favorites so they can’t accidently be sold or scraped, mark others for scraping and so on. Instead, you’re going to spend a fair bit of time going through you inventory every time you hit encumbrance and digging through that backpack finding what you want to sell and scrap (if you care about crafting that is).
I don’t know if I just missed a bunch of stuff, but I really wish there were more full body outfits, these are clothing items that that ignore the other items you have and only provide an aesthetic look to your character. They override your whole look and give you a single style. I think I only found like 3 or 4 of them in my playthrough, and they all sucked. It could just be a part of future DLC, but who knows when that will drop now. The hats in the game are some of the ugliest things imaginable, and you can’t even hide them! If you’re giving me all these stats from wearing a hat and it’s ugly as shit, why not give me the option to hide its visibility? Instead, you have to remove it from your character completely.
The last thing I’ll touch on here is the weapon variety, which I don’t think there really is much of. You might contest that there is a decent amount of different weapons, and you’re partly right, but hear me out. As you spec out your character, you can go into any three routes with your guns. You can go into Power, Smart, or Tech. I chose the Tech weapon route because who doesn’t want to fire a gun through walls? It’s probably the most overpowered skill in the game and almost breaks the whole power structure of every fight. So okay, I’m a primarily Tech weapon user, now you can choose to go into shotguns, handguns, submachine guns, or rifles. I’d carry around a handgun, rifle, and sniper rifle. That was my loadout and it worked wonders for my V. The rifle and sniper that I carried were dictated by the Tech tree, which meant I only had a very small pool of available weapons to carry around. Get this, the first Tech rifle that I started using and loving was identical in appearance to the one I finished the game with. That really doesn’t feel satisfying in this style of game. A game where you’re constantly picking up new weapons and seeing how their stats improve like a Borderlands game. I would have expected 3-4 times more weapon models than what was offered. Everyone was using the same thing and it got a bit boring.
I started playing this game on the PC at launch and finished up in the second week of January so I know a bit about the bugs in this game. My experience wasn’t that bad overall. I felt like the game itself was solid as a rock. I didn’t get any crashes or corrupted saves (none of my saves went over 8MB), loading was always surprisingly fast and the menus felt snappy.
My big bug issues had to do with just random jank in the world. The worst thing that happened was during a scene were a friend was dying in front of me a gun they were holding was just stuck inside of their head as they die. I’m pretty sure that’s not what the developers had intended to happen in that scene. It just sucked since this was supposed to be a really emotional and I’m just looking at this gun sticking out of both ends their head, just silly. Of course you’ll get the common T-pose characters, or you’ll pop out of your car as you drive and T-pose above it. The more annoying things would be the items you can’t pick up because they are embedded just into the ground a little too far, luckily none of those pickups were mission critical for me.
There’s a bunch of little menu and zoom issues, which were often resolved by going to the menu for a second. I think this game gets more of a pass from me because it’s technically more advanced than a Skyrim or Fallout, perhaps if those games didn’t have loading screens to enter a building I wouldn’t have dinged them that much, because that’s some old school shit right there.
I played this game through the Epic store, and apparently they have achievements support now. Granted, I only popped 4 of them in my whole time playing. That’s because my achievements were clearly bugged out, which was really annoying. What year is this? It feels like an early PS3 game or something. Also, let’s sync Playstation and Epic achievements/trophies. That’d be nice. Should do something with that Sony investment.
This is what the game is all about here, what was my playthrough of this game like? I easily got max (50) street cred and hit level 48 on my character, which is just shy of the level 50 cap. I could probably jump in and fuck around for a bit to knock that out, just not sure if I have it in me right now though. I went in wanting a challenge and to get immersed into this world of Cyberpunk. I started the game on very hard and kept it there the whole time. It started out hard but quickly became a fairly normal difficulty level with a few cheap deaths thrown in randomly.
My weapons became a destructive force of nature. I could shoot through walls and extinguish life without ever being seen. Enemies would run around after my first shot trying to find cover, but I would ping them or hack a camera so their outlines were ever present. I hold down my rifle’s trigger to charge a shot, headshot after headshot tearing through the walls as they drop, one by one. The game would feel too easy if I continued on this way so I would stealth through levels, sneaking up on my prey and choking them out, sometimes tossing their bodies into the bins to hide them from their friends.
I wished at times that my prey would become smarter, or find technological ways to counter my overpowered weapons. Perhaps it’s simply impossible for them to handle my gaming acumen. The combat and weapons were fun, I had a blast running through side missions, each a small puzzle to be solved or blasted through. I tried to live in the world, to be my V as much as I could. I wanted to like this experience and for the most part I did, the game succeeded in that aspect for me.
The story found a way to carry me through my journey. The inclusion of Keanu Reeves as a guiding construct of rocker glory, providing insight into my character and the history of the world and it’s characters was an unexpected and brilliant inclusion. I felt like his character grew throughout the game and my connection to him also grew in the same way that felt natural. This is perhaps one of the strongest relationships the game offers, which makes sense since it’s the central pillar of the story.
The love and hate came from my romantic relationship with Judy. I felt like the game did this wonderful job of cultivating my relationship with her that by the end it felt wrong what they did. Why put in all that work? Having specific side missions to gain loyalty and to learn about her past and forming an emotional and romantic bond with this woman, only to sleep with her and that’s it. It feels like a game from 10 years ago where you put in all this work just to see the sex scene and get a little bit of nudity. Hey developers, be better than that, have more respect for your characters and for the players. They literally do the smallest amount of work in making your relationship feel real after you sex them up. Try texting your girl or boyfriend and have all the same options, or visit them and they’re standing in the same spot waiting to say the same thing, day after day. Don’t think you can go out on a date, romance them again, kiss them, hug them, or even talk to them. That part of the game is done you idiot, try romancing another person and get their sex scene instead. What a wonderful decision.
Trying to come to a conclusion about this title is really hard. You wrestle with the enjoyment you got out of it, the ways it fights against you, and the expectations you had coming into it. It’s not the game I thought it was going to be. It’s not this monumental achievement in gaming that only a studio like CD Projekt could bring. It’s a video game that had a lot to live up to, and with reports of it’s development coming out in the past few days, it wasn’t in development as long as we thought and it wasn’t as smooth either.
I can’t wait to see the patches and add-on content that they release in the next year or two. Build on the game and give me reasons to come back and enjoy this world that I loved. At the end of the day, I did enjoy the time I spent in the game. I might focus on a lot of the negatives I had but that’s because I was a little surprised to be experiencing them. Hope crashing against reality.
It will be fascinating seeing how the next gen ports of this game will hold up. I don’t know if my second playthrough will be on an upgraded GPU on my computer or on PS5 like I was expecting. I’d love to get some trophies for this game, but for me to platinum it they’re going to really have to get in there and massage some stuff.
The combat is a blast, I enjoyed sneaking around and shooting people. I wish enemies were a lot harder and forced me to use my weapons in combination with each other and with my skills to take them down. Instead, I felt like if I got in a tough spot I could just shoot people through walls and not even think about it. The fun came from forcing myself not to use that skill and try to silently take down every enemy in the building.
Final Score – 8.9
This was a flawed gem of a game. I think you should definitely play it, but only on a system that can play it correctly. Don’t even think of the last gen options as anything viable. Cyberpunk 2077 is a game that should look better in the future when graphics cards with better RTX support come out and you can really max the settings and resolution, so it gives you a reason to look forward to new hardware. The planned DLC and online stuff, I hope is interesting. It’d be cool if they were 20 hour DLC story packs like the Witcher 3 had. Of course, none of that has anything to do with this review, just things to look forward to. This game isn’t perfect, but I had a really enjoyable time in the 80+ hours I spent in the world. I’ll happily go back to Night City and chop it up with everyone and clear some buildings.
I can see my score changing in 6 months or a year from now. Perhaps when more is DLC is added. I have a positive outlook on this game. I do like the developers a lot and feel like they do understand where and how they fucked this all up. Perhaps companies shouldn’t be forgiven, but people should. I’m hopeful for more and can’t wait to see what they have to offer their customers to gain our good will back. Would people like a new game + option? How about a realistic mode like Fallout had?
I am really just getting jacked about playing Cyberpunk 2077 right now. I decided to go with the PS4 version, playing it on my PS5. Little pissed about the raytracing support for PS5 users. I’ll give Sony the benefit of the doubt and assume that they’re not going to censor the North American version of the game on the console. I think the YouTube video that CD Projekt put out with the comparison was the censored one, since the game needs to be censored in certain regions like Japan. While I think all of that is dumb and censoring nudity is the most ridiculous thing in the world, so be it.
My only thought right now is if I should play the game on the hardest difficulty setting or not. I was listening to the guys at Giant Bomb talk about the game and they were saying how easy it was to just shoot everyone. They made it seem like it was too easy and the choices they had to make in leveling didn’t really matter since they could just headshot people and keep it moving. I just checked out the trophy list and it doesn’t seem like there are any difficulty related trophies like they had in the Witcher 3, which is good I suppose. I mean, if the game really is as long as they say it is, with side quests, then having one long completionist playthrough is for the better.
I can’t wait for that timmer to tick down so I can finally launch this game that we’ve all been waiting years to play. I hope it’s not insanely buggy on console and runs well, that would be a nice bonus.
The release of Cyberpunk 2077 is ever so close! We got reviews dropping left and… well, just to the left. It seems like only a select group of people are getting early copies and others have to wait a bit. Checking those reviews reveals that the game is littered with bugs. Granted, they are all playing a pre-release version of the game that doesn’t have the day one patch or anything like that so let’s all hope it gets better. I get that the game is a buggy mess right now, and I’d love it if it was more polished, but I understand that getting a version like that might have to wait a couple of months. That’s not really what has me worried at the moment, and there’s something else I’d like to talk about today.
As I skimmed all the reviews, reading just a couple words in each paragraph, the bugs were a major issue facing all reviewers, with a few outlets dinging it multiple points because of this. It makes me wonder if they’d go back to rereview it when it’s patched (probably not). What’s worrying me is that nobody I know is getting access to the console versions of the game. Seems like this game is coming in as hot as it gets.
I have a decent computer with a RTX 2070 Super, 3900X, 64 GB RAM, and an NVME drive to load games from. I also have two 1440p ultrawide monitors, even though one will be enough for this game. So, I can play the game on PC if I need to, but having played The Witcher 3 on PS4 I’d like to play this one on my PS5 also. That’s even without the next gen patch that is supposed to come out next year. Why don’t I just play on my PC you ask? If I have the option I’d prefer to play this title on my OLED tv, which is in the living room away from my PC, and I kind of just want some trophies for the game. Yea, I’m one of those guys.
What has me a little worried about getting the PlayStation version is the way Sony has been treating adult content on their system in the past couple of years. If the game is going to be censored in any way on the PlayStation version then I will not support it, and will definitely play it on my PC where there is no way it’s going to be censored. The most recent version of censorship that bothered me from Sony is with DMC 5 where they put some dumb lens flare over a butt and the Conan game were you couldn’t be nude like all the other versions. You can also see in the image below from the PlayStation demo that the poster of the demon isn’t the same poster shown in another demo (I need to look more to find it). The original had what looked to be a demon having sexual relations with a person in a nun outfit doggy style. If my PC brethren get to see that I want to also, it’s only fair. Oh, I’m completely against censorship, it’s a mature rated game, let’s all just be adults here.
Say what you will, but I just want the original game without censorship. Apparently there’s an option to toggle nudity on and off, but will that also change posters and all that? I think it’s just too soon to really know, especially with how this launch coverage is handled so far. This example of the poster could just be a change in the artwork for all platforms. Hopefully more content comes out prior to release going over some of these issues so that I, and other like-minded individuals, can make a more informed decision. I would love to start preloading this game so I can get right into it at launch.
Another thing I’d like to really see is how the PS5 version deals with the different graphical settings in the game. The best option would be for the PS4 Pro version to have a performance mode that’s 1080p/60fps and a beauty mode that shoots for 1800p/30fps. If it’s an unlocked 30 or the game just recognizes that it’s played on a PS5, it would then go up to a stable 60fps and that would be amazing, for now. I’m really annoyed that the full fat PS5 version isn’t launching on day one. If this game is going to take over 100 hours to beat, you’re going to ask me to put in another 100+ next year to experience it like that? Perhaps if we get a new trophy list like Spider Man I could be persuaded.
In the end, I’m just really excited to play this game in the next few days. I’ve been debating on waiting a bit for all the bugs to get ironed out and to understand the censorship a bit better. Or for some comparisons between the PC version and PS5, since I might be persuaded to go with the PC version for the better graphics prior to the next gen patch release some time next year.
This will be a short review because I played the game a few weeks ago and I’ll just write about the lasting impressions I have on the material.
What needs to be understood is that the game takes place in the American south in 1968 and that you play as a character of color. While it’s a fictionalized version of that time, the way other characters in the world treat you and the terms they use to refer to your character are more accurate and are really racist. The main character, Lincoln Clay, is a mixed-race character with both Dominican and Italian roots. The characters in the world just see him as one way and treat him as such, even if they’re wrong in their own stereotyping. Racial terms are tossed around like candy on Halloween, so if you’re sensitive to that you need to watch out.
That world and the language used is also a reason to like this game. It helped open my eyes to what it was like living in the South during this period of American history. It was refreshing that they didn’t censor everything and white-wash it, this was a volatile period of American history and it lent to the credibility of the story. It showed one of the ways that video games can really make a lasting impact on players and it was because they stuck to making an authentic world. You have to give it to the developers for sticking to their guns and following through on this title in the way they did.
On the other hand, playing the game felt like I was playing an early version of Grand Theft Auto. It’s a fairly basic open-world title where you go around driving and shooting up warehouses full of people. It wasn’t bad at all, just had the feel of an old-school title. I had an enjoyable time going around, doing missions, and collecting the collectibles. It felt good that you could call in some suppliers to restock ammo and armor, then call in one of your fast cars before going out on a mission. If you go in not expecting the next Rockstar game and just see it as an old-school open-world game, then I think you’ll be just fine.
The collectibles in the game are really good, especially for anyone into old Playboy magazines and pinup art. Sure, it’s pervy as hell, but looking at the old Vargas paintings that you find all over the world are really cool to see, especially as an admirer of his work. The old Playboy magazines you pick up might have a few pictures in them and then usually the whole interview portion of the magazine, it’s a real blast from the past that really sets the tone for the game world. There are other collectibles, but they’re less interesting to me.
At first, I didn’t like the character model of Lincoln, it just looked off in some way when you start the game. It did get better after the inciting incident in his life happens and you pick up as him again down the road, he just becomes a more likeable character. A nice part of the game, and something that’s feeling really rare these days, is that you can customize his outfit without having to spend real-world money on micro-transactions! This means that you’re immediately able to just swap out his whole outfit to something a little more your style from the get-go, how refreshing. This was important to me because I knew I wasn’t going to pick up this game again, so being able to enjoy the way my character looks without unlocking every little item was appreciated.
The story isn’t that bad, it’s your typical bad/good guy let’s kill everyone tail. I really like the CIA handler that you work with, he’s the one who’ll supply you with all the intel and lead you to the next major mission in your journey of revenge.
An issue I did have, besides the game crashing on a few occasions, was the side character of Cassandra, she’s the boss of the Haitian mob in town. She starts out alright, but that only lasts until you’ve brought her into your own gang and don’t give her everything right away. She quickly became an annoying asshole at every one of my boss meetings. Every meeting you have she’s complaining about not getting territory and that I wasn’t looking out for her. It just made me despise her, which meant that I kept giving more to my other guys and she got nothing (she clearly didn’t like this choice and let me know at every opportunity). I continued to ignore her ramblings, if only she had played it cool she would have been an equal partner in my crime organization, but she couldn’t handle it. I ended up just killing two of the three bosses I had working for me.
Final Score – 7.0
It’s just a decent game that I got for “free” with PS Plus. It reminded me of simpler, old school style open world games and I appreciate it for that. I love the story and the fact that this studio decided to make it. This is not your typical play it safe little mafia game that only fit the Italian stereotypes. It opens up an interesting part of American History and hopefully it allows people to see the world from a different perspective. Just wish Cassandra wasn’t so annoying!
Okay, so let me just say that I have a weird predilection to want to play and platinum every AC game that is made, aside from the sidescroller things they did. Why do I have this feeling? I’m not sure. So this game came out for the PS3 and Xbox 360 way back when AC Black Flag was launching for the new PS4 and XBox back in 2014. So it’s been out there for a while, and the remastered version for PS4 was on sale so I thought it was finally time to give it a go.
I knew all along that this was not a big tentpole AC title, more like an offshoot or something. That’s what made this game so weird to me. You have three big maps that you can run around in, one is of New York and the other two are just parts of the North East of the US that focus around sailing and hitting up little villages along the coast. Sure, okay. You got a little of the old AC and some of the, then new, sailing that everyone was in love with. The two maps with a lot of sailing end up just feeling like a random assortment of islands and doesn’t actually feel like a real-world location. It’s a little uninspired.
What makes this an offshoot title is that the story and the missions are all a little short and don’t really draw you in like other titles. They’re boring to be honest, you don’t actually care about any of the characters, which is an odd thing for an AC game. The old historical figure you get to meet up with is Ben Franklin, like what the fuck. He doesn’t even get to make you cool tools or be an actual relevant part of the story like DaVinci did in AC 2. The plot was poor at best, you turn from being a member of the Assassin’s to joining the Templars. Which is a cool concept to start with, but it was never really fleshed out enough to make me want to care. It’s just a bit of a muddled mess that I stopped caring about until the end. The biggest eye roll in the game came from getting your book back from a character, only to then entrust that book with the same character because it would be safer in his hands. 10 minutes later that character is mortally wounded by the hands of the Assassin’s and the book is missing… Like, let me wright your next story please.
So that’s the main story, just a bunch of little missions you have to do. I decided that I’m going to platinum the game. This means that you have to get 100% sync in all the missions, which is a little boring and dumb, but that’s how the older AC games are, so sure.
The biggest drag on the game, while going for a platinum, is the amount of collectibles and all that bullshit you have to do. While this isn’t really a mainline game in the series, they sure spent some money on a team of people to scatter 200 fragments around the world and shanty songs and chests and all that shit. God damn people. Luckily, I had a bunch of podcasts to catch up to, so I just put in headphones and listened to podcasts while I ran around the maps collecting shit, killing idiots, and sailing my boat around.
That reminds me, the enemies in this game are really stupid. Perhaps this is just how dumb they used to be in the last generation of consoles. I wonder if they were this hard of hearing in Black Flag also? I do still have AC 3 to get through at some point so I’ll be curious to see what they’re like in that one also. Definitely not up to the Origins standard set in this gen.
It might sound like I hated this game and you might be wondering why I even spent the time to get the platinum. Sometimes it’s just nice to play a game that has collectibles. There’s an odd sense of accomplishment from clearing out a map. The game isn’t bad, it’s old school AC, so there’s a bit of comfort and ease in that. You get the weird mechanics of the older games where you can’t scale everything, which can lead to more frustration than needed. And hey, you get ship combat and can upgrade all aspects of your vessel, who doesn’t love that?
Final Score – 6.3
In the end, it took just over 30 hours to get my 74th platinum trophy with this game. The game itself wasn’t that bad, it was just uninspired and filled with boring collectibles. I’m glad I played it, if that makes sense. This is a game in the series that I always felt like I missed out on simply because of the platform it was released on. In the end, I just needed to see the game for myself to really understand what it was and what it wasn’t. So now I’ll never have to play it again. Cheers!