If you told me in December 2020 that Cyberpunk 2077 not only would completely capitulate when it arrived, but that I would still be talking about it 15 months later, I…well, I’d probably say if you’re gonna make predictions on my life can you try the lottery numbers instead of being so boring but the long and the short of it is i’m surprised the game has sunk so quickly into public perceptions but don’t s is never far from my mind. I beat Horizon Forbidden West and didn’t vibrate with Elden Ring (so I now find myself preparing for the next ten years of open-world gaming), and it brought me back, like a broken Avenger, to Cyberpunk. For all its flaws, there is something oddly welcoming about Night City. But why am I still helping the cops?
One of the most compelling parts of Cyberpunk 2077, as something to write about if not necessarily play, is the many contradictions at its heart. It broke sales records while driving down stock prices. It was a technical marvel that couldn’t run for five minutes without a violent crash. It promoted a transgender character designer and then gave us an extremely and explicitly binary world to wander through. It was the greatest game of all time, and a buggy mess. Then there’s the cops: Cyberpunk‘s punk goes beyond the name and genre it operates in, but through its musicality, focus on Johnny Silverhand, and clear anti-corporate messages, it speaks with a scream. tribal punk. But it also requires you to help the cops wherever you can, and I’m sick of that.
I will admit that there are police jobs you do in Cyberpunk 2077 that add to the experience. Taking down the Cyberpsychos offered some of the best unique moments in the game – the squid woman reassembling herself from dismembered body parts is my strongest memory of Night City, the macabre spectacle etched into my brain. Then there’s the depressed cop, for whom the violence, corruption and cruelty of Night City has become too much. This quest was criticized at the time for its lack of a trigger warning, but considered a work of art (as opposed to an event in a game ultimately designed for you to enjoy) it makes a powerful statement about how we ignore and reject those most in need, especially if they become an inconvenience.
Unfortunately, most of the cops we encounter during the game don’t serve as a backdrop for fantastic gameplay, nor do they come with layered quests. They’re just a bunch of fillers doing nothing. Even River isn’t really worth it. His quest unfolds in unexpected ways and is probably the closest Cyberpunk 2077 to the dark roots of the genre it takes its name from, but for the most part River is just an average cop who does things his own way because that it gets results. He’s not quite your Luther/Gene Hunt/McGarnagle loose cannon, but he’s not a Serpico-style good cop ready to fight corruption. The fact that he is a cop is just a background for the missions he takes you on. It is never explored, critiqued, or made relevant in any way.
At least with River, although there’s a reason he’s a cop. The font, in one way or another, is the lifeblood of the cyberpunk genre. It makes sense that there’s a detective story in there. But why is there so much busy work doing odd jobs for the cops? Most of them just involve fighting with rival gangs, but why does it need a cop story to hold it all together? Why does he have to make V a snitch, even as Johnny takes control of their brains? What’s the point of all this? This is the one area of Cyberpunk 2077 that I haven’t completely brushed off (I never buy all those cars either, but I don’t count that as gameplay), and I probably never will. Not only is it incredibly repetitive and mind-numbing, but I can’t even play the story or even lead some kind of headcannon for it. V takes on the Cyberpsychos not to help the cops, but because she wants to test herself. At least, that’s what I tell him. When I report people to John Law, I have no excuse.
Despite all my reservations as it neared launch, and despite how hard Cyberpunk cratered on landing, I can never get out of it. Just… cops. Why did it have to be cops?
Next: Cyberpunk 2077 Update 1.5 Is A Bunch Of Nothing
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