Props to the small team for really doing a whole lot with a little graphically. The rain never seems to let up, and the neon glow of the noodle stands shimmer on the trash-strewn alleys, and the smoky canyons between the seemingly-endless skyscrapers adds a feeling of vastness to the city. Really though, when you get down to it, Cloudpunk seems more like a straightforward interactive novel than it does a really fleshed-out game. It takes the first part of the 'go anywhere, do anything' sandbox model and does it very well. It just doesn't really deliver on the 'do anything' part all that well.
I know it seems like a paradox to say that on the one hand, it's a well-oiled, impeccably balanced sci-fi empire building game with all the elements that make a great wargame; and on the other hand it feels a smidgen like they phoned it in, but there you are. That's precisely how it feels.
Despite all of this griping, and all of these complaints, Tropico 6 is still sort of fun. Partly it's just watching the numbers going up. When the freighter arrives in port and your first shipment of electronics goes to market, netting you enough money to build a new stadium, it's like a little pat on the head that can be weirdly addictive. There are certainly some bugs that probably shouldn't exist on the fourth (fifth? sixth?) iteration of essentially the same game, but the special sauce that has allowed them to actually get away with making six Tropico games is still there.
What it comes down to is that Paradox is just amazing at listening to their community and developing their games long after release. Now that ships are done, I expect that the air force will follow not too far behind. Then, who knows? Of course, they could release a DLC of nothing but National Focii for everyone from Bulgaria to Tannu Tuva and many fans would be ecstatic. If more companies were like Paradox, the world would be a better place.
I sort of have to criticise, you know? It's the job. Truth is, though, I've really enjoyed every minute I've spent with Dirt Rally 2.0, just as I did with 1.0 before it. The handling is gorgeous, the routes are truly beautiful to look at, and the management is ...manageable. The cars all have tons of individual character, the rallycross feels scrappy and frenetic and everything just comes together wonderfully. Codemasters, eh? They really have the hang of this thing.
I'm really struggling to find anything good to say about Jagged Alliance: Rage, other than that its name is appropriate. I suppose the stealth mechanic sort of works, although even there occasionally your sneaky work can be ruined by a patrolling soldier somehow glitching and eternally clambering on and off a rock instead of completing his route. Each playable character has a background trait that is supposed to play out as a weakness but that you rarely notice in play. The characters you choose to play seem irritated by one another, and by everything going on around them all the time. I've got to say, I think it's pretty understandable.
I've been underwhelmed by inXile's previous nod to nostalgia, Wasteland 2, and everyone else in the universe seemed to adore it, so maybe it's me. Your mileage, as always, may vary. But if you're looking for a rock-solid, incredibly challenging nuts-and-bolts RPG with all of the quirky flair of the original trilogy, this isn't quite it.