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2021.03.10

Cyberpunk 2077

When you read this post you probably already know: Cyberpunk 2077 hype did not paid off. However, I would like to explore some personal insights.

Cyberpunk 2077

Me-Character and My Character

As a Role Playing Game, you are being someone else. A player might spend an whole hour tweaking the characters appearance, hair, weight, eye lashes. Then calmly considering to spent the scarce points each attribute. One is not creating himself/herself, but a different being. Maybe a projection or simply experimenting unique approaches.

Than the game starts.

You barely see yourself in the screen.

Shooters are much easier to do in first person. CDPR said they opted for the first person approach as part of the vision that the player should feel he is actually there. They even removed some features of the game because it was not working well in a first person.

But as I said before, since one spent so much love creating the character, it would be a wiser decision if one would see it more often. A third person would be a better decision. It was more valuable to see the custom V fighting than was seeing Geralt’s.

The result is that I have never really connected to the character that I personally created.

Also, there is a second take on character creation that is very unique to Cyberpunk 2077 universe: augmentations and down-the-line customizations. A game advertized as being open regarding your physical appearance, I was noted by many the lack of visual modification during the game. Not even changing the hair style, present in a much less relevant The Witcher 3, was absent.

Clothing functions as both technical improvements and fashion. The game could embrace the idea the each piece of clothing could have any game element or bonus. It would encourage players to find their own style instead keep mixing weird styles just to get specific bonuses.

Cyberpunk 2077

Bugs and Cars

The game was plagued by technical issues. There are hundreds os videos in Youtube with hilarious situations. CDPR had to reimburse several players and it was removed by Playstation Store days after the release, due the impossible state!

I personally had no crashes but a ton of buggy behaviors. Citizens reactions, random explosions, enemies misbehavior. In some critical emotional moments, a bug can spoil the fun. I finished the game trying to do ALL the achievements. But one was impossible to achieve due a bug in a side mission.

Then cars… The Witcher’s horse, Roach, was a delicious surprise and set the benchmark to address rideable in video games.Just before launch, Geoff Keighley (one of the few people that tasted it at the time) said driving was super satisfying. The cars felt so bad. Driving was a burden. Felt like balloons, weightless. Bikes even worse.

I was hopping to drive like a vagabond, exploring each inch of the city. But instead I was using the tele transportation all the time.

The pace that the fixes were coming were also much desirable. I finished the game in 3 months, but a small number of patches were released back them. CDPR always had a top-in-industry attitude regarding enhancing their games after release, but this time I believe they are subpar.

Cyberpunk 2077

Story

At the very beginning, you have to choose the background story. There are 3 possible starting conditions. And the first act considers this choice important, pointing to it frequently.

Then it becomes irrelevant. The mid game is a generic Ubisoft open world game or GTA. V is in a brink of dying, but the open world nature let her have romantic relationships, racing, and helping other people that, frankly, could wait until you solve your most important issue.

While not very original “there is a dude inside your head”, their take is quite unique e grounded. However, CDPR opted to use other very boring tropes like “I died but I’m too special so I reborn”. No need to put a bullet in V’s head to wake her up in the next scene.

The mid-game is a “ensemble a killer team” theme. It was nice but the team and the final mission is less like Ocean’s Eleven and more The Avengers: group a team of 3 guys and storm into the castle. A good point is the insertion of several recurring characters in side-missions. From love-affairs, super AI or ex-cops, the player start to care about them after some time.

The final orchestrated act was also lacking due a single biggest factor, imho: there are no good villains. A good villain have to be seeing, tasted, and feared often. If you show Adam Smasher only once, 50 hours late you could not care less about him. The other Arasaka family members the same.

Think about great movie and video game villains. They have a considerable amount of screen time so the viewer have the chance to witness his evil intentions. Darth Vader, Joker, Glados, LeChuck, Ganon, Bowser.

A very good aspect of the story is the cultural references and jokes. More than once I was caught laughing out loud with some of them.

Cyberpunk 2077

Conclusion

As one of the first games I have ever pre-ordered, I must say that knew what was coming. If I waited for some reviews first…

Cyberpunk 2077 is a ambitious project and several parts of it show it. However, despite the strong beginning, it becomes a generic open world game with amazing graphics.

I finished the game, and most of the achievements. 100+ hours on it. Yet, I fell disappointed. I event might get back to it in a couple of months or years, with extra content and several enhancements.

Cyberpunk 2077
My Rating: 7
Metacritic: 86
2018.12.13

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

This title-provoking book tries to tell a very important lesson: not everything is worthy of your attention and worries. In fact, most of things that makes us worried and down could be easily avoided if we maintain a strict rule of not

It’s kinda a Buddhism in modern blogger language. Like the book, Buddha tells that wanting leads to suffering. So you must clear your mind of all desires, not giving a f*ck about stuff. Specially material stuff.

The first third of the book is pretty nice. Is a bit thought provoking, giving you a sense of perspective of your life. I liked this part very much. I believe that it’s worth of a reread time to time. The second and third parts directs the same philosophy towards more practical aspects of life, like relationships, love and work. There the advises becomes a bit too narrow and full of must do and must not do kinda lists.

Overall, I liked the book. It’s that kind of self helping book that shakes a bit the status quo and makes as reevaluate our lives.

My Rating: 7
Goodreads: 4
2018.10.14

Little Nightmares

In the same vain of critically acclaimed Limbo and Inside (review pending :P), from Playdead Games, Little Nightmares, from Tarsier Studios offers a great action puzzle adventure, full of mysteries.

The game, unlike the mentioned ones, are played in a 2.5 world. It’s mostly 2D, but there are some things that require the Z axis. To be quite frank, it is partially one of the problems with the game. More of that later.

Little nightmares

The story is a bit clearer than the Playdead games, but it still is a clueless journey. All these games offer a minimalist approach for storytelling. One can argue that it is a valid and logical choice in a situation where you are alone and running away from danger. However, the lack of exposure let the players in the darkness most of the time. You might eventually discover whada heck is going on, but chances are you will play throughout the game without know much.

In a scale, Inside is mostly undecipherable, Limbo is a understandable (due the simple boy runs premise) and Little Nightmares might have the most clear story.

Little nightmares

The giant grotesque figures are super creepy, but after some deaths, they do not offer the terror that would might except. They fall mostly in the range of strange than from pure evil that want you dead.

The controls caused me several problems. I was expecting to use the game pad, but the analog joystick was too imprecise, specially during running. I was often falling into the void because I was running towards the camera instead sideways. I had to change to mouse+keyboard scheme, which was weird for such a game. Ironically, the 2.5 feature of the game was not that important. It mostly could be replaced to a tracked walk towards the Z axis, making the game essentially a 2D.

Little nightmares

The visuals are amazing. It totally delivers the premise of uncanny familiarity and strangeness. The awkward felling that you know something is not right is present here. You character is relatable. It’s fragile nature makes the whole adventure more epic.

Because it have a chapter-like story. One could try to replay its best parts to manage to get achievements or contemplate better the scenarios.

Note: I like the game so much that I was compelled to try it’s 3 expansions. Nice.

My Rating: 7
Metacritic: 84
2018.06.11

Final Station

This small game is a 2D action-horror game.

It all happens in a middle of a alien-ish invasion. They transform every human into a zombie like creature. The whole country (maybe the whole world?) is trying to survive. The train system is basically the only transportation system available.

You control a train conductor. You have to guide your train to station after station, performing some missions to save humanity.

It has simple controls, effective story, nice mechanics. You might even run a second time (because it is a quite short adventure) in order to do every possible achievement.

Final station
Final station
My Rating: 7
Metacritic: 76
2018.05.15

Zoe’s Tale

The forth installment of the Old Man’s War series focus on the same events of the third book, The Last Colony. This time it uses the perspective of the little girl Zoe, the adopted daughter of John Perry and Jane Sagan.

She is quite brilliant and clever. As a teenager, she is experimenting love, fear and adventures for the first time.

And you might find that several important events from the previous book.

My Rating: 7
Goodreads: 3.74
2018.05.10

Last Colony

From the same universe of books of Old Man’s War, John Scalzi tells a story of a human colony in another planet. It’s a new colony, so mostly tells the hard conditions and situations that they have to face.

They are far from home. And contact with the former homes are prohibited. Most do not know why. Just focus on creating the initial conditions for a bigger and definitive immigration waves. Wild animals, inhospitable weather and lack of resources and technologies makes everything a very dire situation.

Last colony

You follow the story of John Perry, the same protagonist from the original novel. This story takes place many years after the events of the second book in the series, The Ghost Brigade. Perry and his wife Sagan are now trying to have a normal civilian life with their new daughter Zoe.

My Rating: 7
Goodreads: 4.05
2017.10.20

Queen of Katwe

Just after watching a fun and light comedy with Sing, another channel started to show Queen of Katwe. I heard good comments when it was in theaters, so I decided to keep up the marathon.

Queen of katwe

It tells the story of Phiona Mutesi, a real life girl from the village of Katwe, in Uganda, that end up being a very good chess player. It is a very typical against-all-odds and follow-your-dream kinda story. The poor girl have to face all the prejudice for being women and poor (but not about being black, because the whole movie is basically on Uganda, which such thing is non sense) to get a place under the sun.

Queen of katwe

Her unexpected success transformed the lives of her family and of the many people of her village. She became a celebrity at very young age, which influenced her personality. Year after year, she start to behave as a spoiled kid, believing that she was invincible. With the family support, she realizes the most valuable things in life in the end.

Queen of katwe

The acting of the protagonist, from Madina Nalwanga, is excellent. The whole media focused the attention to the beautiful Lupita Nyong’o that plays Phiona’s mother, but the real star here is Madina. Phiona is portrayed as a timid, introspective girl, but Madina played in a way that it still makes the character very very likable. You cheer for her. Even being in a chess match!

The other kids are also really good. It is always a challenge to work with children.

My main complain with the story is the sub plot of her older sister. I dont know if the book that was based on uses this character to a greater purpose, but in this motion picture this subplot, while gives hints about the whole situation of Phiona and her mother, does not go anywhere relevant.

Queen of katwe

The visuals are great. The poverty is displayed in a way that brings emotions but is not there to provoke shock. The African colors and styles gives it a very distinctive and beautiful look.

My Rating: 7
Metacritic: 73
Rotten Tomatoes: 94
2017.09.12

Orwell

Following yet another recommendation from Rock Paper Shotgun, I decided to give this small little indie game a try.

The game address the theme of governmental surveillance. The Big Brother. It’s definitively a reference to the US' Edward Snowden case from 2013.

But unlike what traditional dystopian stories generally do, Orwell puts you in the shoes of the oppressing regime. To be more fair, you control a simple security agent, which makes you more a pawn than a King. It’s a similar position that you take from the excellent Papers Please. Following the rules and d questionable things is part of your job. You need to put food on the table after all. After the first negative (or at least not constable) impressions, you will get used to the job, and things get easier to digest.

Orwell

Your official job is to track terrorist threats, listening to phone call, see video camera feeds, and read social media from targets. But these tools are available to spy on virtually all citizens, potential criminals or ordinary folk alike.

At very beginning of the game, the country suffers a major terrorist attack and the country is in a political crisis. It’s your job to find the responsible ones. You even have a lead. He might be innocent, but your investigation opens connections. Connecting one person to another, like teacher-student, neighbors, father-son, brings you new potential suspects.

Orwell

A really good thing that I noticed while playing is that, without direct intervention of the game, reading the news, I created some conspiracy theories. I was trying to link dots, trying to see the “big picture”, trying to make sense of the chaos of facts and information. The game throws at you several misleading information, and like real life, you will have to filter what is relevant and what is not. It fascinated me.

The mechanics of the game are quite unique. Not revolutionary, but unique. If the theme is close to Papers Please, the gameplay reminded me of Her Story. Using try-and-error and some deduction, you try to to reveal the missing gaps. If you didn’t like Her Story, don' worry, here the story is more traditional. Everything is scripted like and adventure game. You will not make an relevant change in the course of the story during game.

As a short game, I liked very much. I heard that they are doing a sequel, which is good news. I will be glad to try it also.

Orwell

PS: yes, the game Orwell is a direct reference to Eric Arthur Blair (aka George Orwell) and his book 1984.

My Rating: 7
Metacritic: 77
2017.04.11

Tomb Raider

In just a few days, I finished the this game. It is the reincarnation of the classic Tomb Raider series from Crystal Dynamics. I was not a PlayStation gamer at the time, but this one I liked. Not mind blowing, but I had my good moments.

This Lara Croft is a more mature and complete character. It was designed to be modern. She will have many more adventures for sure.

Tomb raider

The universe of Tomb Raider always have the extraordinary and magical. The story suffer mainly because we cannot anticipate what is possible and what is not. The boundaries are not clear to the player. So when we are about to understand wadda hell is going on, the game shows a whole new layer of problems that probably involves magical items or supernatural stuff. It’s like going in a Orlando’s theme parks: one step you goes from Happy Potter to Spiderman.

Tomb raider

The mechanics are a bit of combat, a bit of stealth and a lot of cinematic timed actions. It is decent in all these aspects but not great in neither. The collectibles are easy enough to be a valid pursue. That is why I probably finished it entirely.

At a certain point, I was a bit lost and careless about the main plot and played to reach the end. Nice but not great. Next game!

Tomb raider
My Rating: 7
Metacritic: 86
2017.03.23

Mad Max

Last year I watched the Mad Max franchise revival in the theaters. And loved it. And it seems that world loved it too. The game was launched later so it was surrounded by expectations. But the developers promptly affirmed that the game is not based on the movie, but in the universe in a broad sense. The protagonist is also Max, but like in the movies, it is a bit different Max from the original movies.

Mad max

First, the visuals. The movie got a lot of notoriety mostly because its breathtaking visuals. The game… well, I will praise it’s graphics, however they are not as impacting as, just as a disclaimer. The game uses a lot of post processing effects to give a perfect look of a post apocalyptic world. The high speed camera and distortions are also very well employed. In general, the game have a good aesthetic.

Mad max

It makes a reasonable good use of the franchise. The game have the same desolated atmosphere where the automobiles are essential part of living. However, it also brings a sense that that whole world is in fact empty. It’s good to traverse the map in a turbo’ed engine, but doing it often becomes repetitive and boring. It seems that they created the map but did not have enough ideas to fill it with.

Mad max

The main plot, like most recent open world games, are paper thin. Max is famous for being a quite guy, the same for most of the people that lives there. The ones that talk are in fact annoyingly talkative, like your sidekick master of the technicians. Nothing against him being playing ugly, but he is annoying and pretensions. He says all the time how good he is. He says all the time a lot of things.

Mad max

In contrast, what could potentially be the major companion disappears after minutes of the gameplay. I’m talking about the dog. Just like the thematic cousin Fallout, there is a dog that we presume that will follow the protagonist all along. But it is not true here. He is put away and rarely shows up. Sad.

Mad max

If the main story is ok, the same cannot be said about the side missions. The mission givers are super shallow and their tasks are generally repetitive. No much fun. The collectible items and objectives are divided between the fun and achievable and the boring that you should let it go.

Reducing the threat level is really a nice concept. It reminds me of Shadow of Mordor. Not the same, but similar.

Overall, I had a good time playing it. It was a bit unremarkable, but fun.

Mad max
My Rating: 7
Metacritic: 73