I wouldn't say that it's hyperbole to call this the best game ever. It's not really that subjective, either... what this does had not been done before, and as far as I am aware, not yet, since. Most VG's are longer than a movie, or even a mini-series(and this isn't exactly short, either), and here a lot of it is put to use to develop the fleshed out, credible characters and plot. It all comes together in a sublime way, nothing is tacked on, everything has a place, and this somehow manages to fit in all of the major conspiracy theories, a lot of Greek mythology and history, plenty of intelligent philosophical discussion, morality, countless references(often to famous works of literature) and allusions as well as meta-fiction(!). This is a hybrid title, meaning it combines several genres, and here, it's an FPS packaging containing elements of adventure, RPG and action. Nothing reminds you that you're playing, everything can be affected, and you can go places, in the full, believable, dystopian future world and society you're presented with, that don't relate to your missions. In fact, there is an immense amount of freedom in this(in spite of it being driven by the smart, engaging and well-written plot... heck, you're choosing some of the outcomes), and what you do changes the world around you, how you are seen by others. There's almost always two or three solutions to any situation, and there are 3 distinctly different endings. You decide what to say in conversations, and a chat may end in the other person helping you... or attacking you. The story is well-told, thrilling and has several unexpected twists that make sense and add up. Writing is excellent all the way, with subtlety, satire, and clever dialog. This is rather realistic, and features a marvelous hit detection. Based on where you're hurt, you will get to move slower, your aim will worsen, and such. The targeting reticle shrinks gradually if you stand still, indicating that your projectile will be more accurate, and if you move, it'll start over. You can do a couple of things to improve that process, and in general customize your own experiences with this, and there will not be two people doing this the exact same way. You take on the role of JC Denton, a bad-ass new agent of UNATCO, the UN's enforcing branch, "policing" a world plummeting into chaos. There is rioting, an aggressive virus and terrorism activity. Beyond that, you determine quite a bit of what happens. There is an incredible balance between the things, and what you do matters. You have an inventory with an upper limit, so what you carry with you, what you pick up and keep, is important. Money, in the form of credits, can't be spent carelessly, and it doesn't come on its own. Exploring is always going to help, and this encourages you to do so. Using XP, You can upgrade your natural skills to make you better at firing weapons, using computers, picking locks, swimming, etc. Last but definitely not least, there are Augmentations, which grant you sci-fi super-human abilities, including heat-vision and, stay with me through this one, *blowing up rockets and grenades directed at you before they reach you*. The arsenal is marvelous, and it's up to you which ones, and how many, you want to utilize(and they can be "modified", giving them better stats, or attaching, say, a silencer, scope and/or laser-sight). Apart from pistol, shotguns, an assault rifle, a sniper, and a rocket launcher, you get to run around sending Plasma at foes, subduing them with a mini-crossbow(did I mention that you can render enemies unconscious, too?), or taking them on up close with one of the half a dozen or so pieces of equipment for that, like the Baton or the Pepperspray. There are multiple types of ammo. Oh, and all of the four throw-ables... explosive, gas, EMP and "scramble"(trick a robot to switch what side it's fighting for)... can be attached to any surface and thus behave as a proximity mine. Game-play is addictive, fun and exciting. Usually, you are tasked with infiltrating an area, and you can do it clean and quiet, or loud and bombastic. The objectives are nicely varied, and this doesn't get boring at any point. While stealth is possible and supported, it's only one of the numerous strategies that are. One or two of the interfaces are admittedly down to one option, and hacking is no actual challenge. The graphics are dated today, and you can tell that Unreal, that this builds on, isn't new anymore. Every cut-scene is scripted and in-engine, none are FMV or CGI. It may not allow for as much articulation in the animation as recent releases, then again, it's not downright bad, and there are absolutely *golden* moments in the lighting, at times. The overall sound is great, if effects can perhaps be a tad dry. Music is magnificent, and the main theme is amazing. The ambient audio works well. Voice acting is mixed, with powerful performances among the less convincing ones. It's seldom poor, however. Level design is impeccable. The AI is good, and you will have to out-think and -maneuver your opponents. With that said, it is inferior to that of Half-Life, I'm afraid; when you face groups, they don't employ tactics at as high quality as that. There is humor in this, without it attracting excessive attention or making it overly light. This is set during the night, adding to the dark atmosphere that does not let up. You get to visit locations that exist, in breathtaking detail, like New York, Paris and Hong Kong. Bugs tend to be no worse than minor glitches, albeit there are a few stability issues. Hey, you can save as often, and wherever, you feel like, so it's no big deal. There is disturbing content, and relatively infrequent, moderately strong language in this. I recommend this to any fan of science fiction and/or Cyberpunk. 10/10
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