Hello, hello, and hello my fine fellow humans! I hope you all had a kickass Christmas and a most excellent New Year. It was quiet here for both events. I picked up one of my brothers for Christmas day, and had both nieces up on Christmas Eve so they could open their presents. And then New Year was nothing special because lockdown was in full effect, so there was nowhere to go. It felt strange not spending New Year in the company of my best mate, matching stupid videos, playing Trials and making lame jokes. I made lame jokes and played Trials on my own, but it just wasn’t the same.
It looks like 2021 is shaping up to be as insane or perhaps even more insane than 2020 if the start is anything to go by. But hope looms on the horizon like the iceberg that sunk the titanic. Vaccines are rolling out, so I’m hoping beyond all hope that in 20201 I can start getting out of the house. Spending 2020 as a person with Cystic Fibrosis has been gruelling because I’ve pretty much had to lock myself away, because Covid to a person with CF is very close to a death sentence. I’ve witnessed a few other folk with CF I know fall afoul of Covid and they didn’t make it. It has been…tough. I saw my best mate maybe three times throughout the year, and my little nephew only once. Having my nieces up has been a calculated risk, one I feel was worth it, but a risk nonetheless. The worst part has been relying on complete strangers to be smart in order to keep me safe. I can’t imagine how it is for healthy folks for whom Covid doesn’t pose much of a risk. Obviously you want to get on with life and if you catch Covid it’ll likely just be a bump in the road, yet here I am asking you to keep dealing with inconveniences in order to help myself and others stay out of a grave. It’s a bad situation all around. In my local town something like 45 people had a New Year party and somebody there had Covid, and thus spread it to everyone else there. Now there’s a big flare-up, so I’m afraid of just grabbing some shopping.
In case you somehow missed them, over the New Year period I put out a series of “awards” for games from 2020, covering a few different categories. Here’s the whole lot, should you fancy having a look:
I handed out an award for Cyberpunk 2077 for being the best game of the year that you shouldn’t buy yet, and I’m standing by that assertion. I’ve enjoyed playing the game and I’m currently in the middle of wrapping up some of the side-content. Without a doubt, the story is is the highlight of the game, an intriguing tale of the ghost of rocker/terrorist Johnny Silverhand being rammed into your head and the relationship that stems from it as you search for a stave off death. There’s a cast of excellent characters too, although one of them does not get anywhere near enough screen time despite easily being the best of the bunch.
I’m surprised my how much archaic design there is, though. Like, crowds and cars disappearing when you turn around, the brain-dead AI, the lack of routes for NCPs on the street and so on. Even simple things like pulling out a gun and squeezing off a shot results in the NPCs just crouching down. That’s it. Even in a GTA game from years ago you’d get some people running away, maybe someone trying to fight you etc. And the crazy way that police literally teleport to your location when you commit a crime is hilariously bad. Mission design, too, struggles to give you options based on your stats. You might run into a door requiring more tech skill than you have, but there will be another entrance literally 5ft away from you. Even Deus Ex: Mankind Divided did better than that.
As for the glitches and problems, I’m actually genuinely impressed with the sheer variety of issues Cyberpunk 2077 has. Here’s just a few that I’ve personally ran into: constant crashing on PS5, cars floating in the air, objects randomly vibrating until they explode, characters stuck in T-pose, lines of dialogue playing over each other, disappearing guns, guns equipping themselves when stealth killing enemies, camera being automatically zoomed in when exiting vehicles, unable to change camera when driving, head and gun movement somehow becoming separate, cars getting stuck in the ground, events not triggering, quests that couldn’t be completed, enemies in walls, textures not loading aaaaaaaaand so many more.
It’s frustrating. There’s a good game buried in Cyberpunk 2077, but the state it’s in is pretty atrocious. But for some good news, it has made me want to replay Witcher 3 again, so that’s cool. I’ve picked up the GoTY version of Witcher 3 on PS4 in anticipation of the promised PS5 upgrade, meaning I think I’ve now owned the game on three different platforms.
I’ve been playing Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 like a cocaine addict this week, spending most of my free time hammering out combos and attempting to beat some of the hardest challenges the game has to offer. My fingers are sore and if I lean any closer to the screen I’m going to headbutt my TV. But God, I am loving every moment of it. Yes, part of it is probably my nostalgic love for the franchise that stems from hundreds of hours of playing it as a kid. But I also think it’s just a bloody good game even in 2020 that’s ultra-smooth to play and very, very addictive. It’s satisfying and rewarding whether you want to just muck about doing basic combos or if you prefer to push the limits of your skill.
I was also lucky over Christmas to be gifted a Xbox Series S, so mucking around with that has been fun. I came from an Xbox One X, so the upgrade is a little more interesting, because in some ways it isn’t actually an upgrade. The SSD is obviously a big deal, making everything so much snappier, but in terms of graphics it’s a tad more mixed because my One X actually had more raw power, while the Series S has less pure GPU oomph but much newer tech and a more powerful CPU. Overall, I think it’s a nice little machine that packs some serious punch considering the small pricetag, making it a great choice for brand new gamers or anyone looking to move up a little from a base Xbox. I might do a full review, we shall see.
Right now, though, overriding everything else is my absolute joy that Hitman 3 is just over a week away. I try not to get too excited about upcoming games in order to keep expectations in check and not end up more disappointed than Santa Claus after he reads my list of naughty exploits for the year. But considering how bloody much fun I’ve had with IO Interactive’s last two Hitman titles, I just can’t help but feel the bubbling of excitement deep within my belly, although could be the five cans of coke-cola I chugged earlier. Hitman 3 doesn’t look like it’s going to be a massive change of direction but that’s perfectly fine, because at this point all I really need to be happy is a bunch more levels and a few new fun mechanics thrown into the mix. Oh, and of course you can import the entirety of Hitman and Hitman 2 straight into Hitman 3, creating some sort of ultimate murder package.
The only thing that’s bugging me about Hitman 3 is the VR mode, or more specifically the fact that it’s PS VR exclusive. I ditched my PS VR headset a while back when I realised I was barely using it compared to the Oculus, so I’m really hoping IO bring VR support to PC down the line. Surely they will, right? VR cost time and money to develop, and it doesn’t make much sense to keep it exclusive when the game itself is multi-platform.
That’ll do it for now, folks. As always, keep on playing and staying safe, and if you fancy supporting the site a bit you can drop me some pennies below.
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