Command & Conquer: Sole Survivor

a game by Westwood
Platform: PC
Editor Rating: 8/10, based on 2 reviews
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See also: Command & Conquer Games

Whereas earlier C&C games focused on re source management and directing numerous troops simultaneously in real time, Sole Survivor takes a completely different approach. Players choose just one of 23 units--including new toys like a Flame Tank, a goopy Visceroid, and four types of dinosaurs--before being thrust into the thick of online battle with up to 50 other players. Your single unit can be upgraded with power-up crates containing speed boosts, bigger weapons, radar capabilities, and more. The result is a decidedly arcade-like romp that barely resembles the other C&C games.

But enjoyment of Sole Survivor is directly proportionate to your Internet connection's speed. At 28.8, there's often a lag between command and execution; sometimes, the commands get lost altogether. Even worse, this is not the style of gameplay that made C&C a household name. It's totally a most-toys-wins game; if one person amasses an impressive amount of power-ups, they're nearly unstoppable--and if it's not you, tough luck.

Still, battles are brief, and variations like Football and Capture the Flag tweak the replay value. C&C fans will definitely want to test their mettle, but until there's a T1 in every home, gamers may find themselves disappointed with the sometimes-sluggish Sole Survivor.

ProTips:

  • If your health is full, don't grab a green crate--there's a good chance it will contain a nuclear bomb.
  • Just because a unit lacks wheels doesn't mean it's worthless. Many ace players use Commandos to great effect.
  • Keep an eye on your ion Danger status in the lower right window. If you get too greedy with the power-up crates, it'll come from nowhere and blast the bejeezus out of you.

Download Command & Conquer: Sole Survivor

Game Reviews

Overview

When the original Command and Conquer hit the shelves, I was one of the first to snatch up a copy of what seemed to be a genre-defining real-time strategy game. I was not disappointed. After hours and hours of single player and multiplayer matches, I was still engrossed by this awesome piece of work. Subsequently, the original C&C has earned its spot on my Top Five Games of All Time list. The mission packs were also good, as was Red Alert, which offered many more nights (some frustrating) of satisfying gameplay. Now Westwood has taken their enormous success with C&C online in a much different format. With my obvious liking of the C&C universe, I got pretty excited about more burning, sabotaging, and minigunner-squashing with this new release. But while I respect Westwood’s effort with Sole Survivor, I must say it is the first disappointment in the world of C&C … here’s why.

Gameplay

Unlike C&C, where you act as God over your entire base and army, Sole Survivor allows you to take control of one unit of your choice on a battlefield consisting of many other human players, all of whom also control a single unit. Some of these players will be on your team, while others will be your enemies. You can choose from virtually any unit from the original C&C, or choose from a couple of extra surprises; however, you can’t choose a building, turret or any other stationary object (why would you want to, anyway?). I did not really care for the few "extra surprises" I mentioned above, as they were things like dinosaurs. Come on … if I wanted Jurassic Park, I would have bought that game; it kind of ruins the warlike atmosphere when my mammoth tank gets overrun by a Tyrannosaurus Rex on steroids.

When you enter a game and select your unit, you are very vulnerable because you haven’t gained any power-ups or the like to improve your unit … which brings me to my next point of frustration. Any time you enter a new game (unless you are the first one there), you become the target of every conceivable enemy in the game because you are weak. What you need to do is run around for a few minutes and pick up a multitude of goodies to strengthen your armor, guns, speed and other important necessities before engaging others in combat. Failure to do so will result in a quick death … time and time again. Don’t worry, these "power-ups" and such re-appear very quickly, so you will have little problem getting up to speed with a bit of luck. Once you are sufficiently powered up, it’s time to get in some killing. Just point and click at an enemy and the damage dealing is done just as in C&C.

There are a few different types of games you can participate in, like the free-for-all (no explaining needed here), or capture the flag (my personal favorite), or football. Free-for-all is fun for about 10 minutes until you just get bored of pointing and clicking, because there is no goal other than just survival and killing for points. Capture the flag involves a couple of teams (one of which you are on); of course, you need to capture the enemy’s flag to win. This game was the most interesting for me because it involved a little strategy. Each flag is defended by a couple of non-player controlled Obelisks or something to make it more imperative to use team tactics to win. This all sounds great until you start playing and realize that most of your teammates are not going to play as a team, much less communicate. In fact, there was so little communication going on it’s a wonder how anyone ever won. I never really had much fun because it was so chaotic all the time, and typing in messages trying to rally people together was pointless. This game needs voice connections with your teammates to work better, because it just takes too long to type intricate instructions to people while you are getting blown away. Hopefully with technology getting so good these days, this type of voice connection will be possible soon.

I suppose if you had like 30 or so friends with a computer and net connection, you could conceivably get into the same game and play with a tad more purpose and structure, but is this really possible? When was the last time you even got together with 30 friends at the same time? It would be like having a wedding … with invitations … and cake … you get my point. At this time, Sole Survivor is just not able to deliver the gameplay to keep players interested.

Graphics

The graphics are what I expected, SVGA, just like the original C&C -- no real changes (except the dinosaurs, of course). Since I really like the original C&C graphics, I’m glad they did not try to change anything here and ruin the game even more.

Audio

Again, nothing new here … the same sound effects and unit voices, etc. from the original C&C.

Installation/Documentation

This was by far the best part about Sole Survivor. Installation was a snap. Setting up multiplayer games was easy as well. Connecting to the server and getting into a game was simple. The documentation was sparse, but it was very clear and concise and gave me all the information and step-by-step instructions needed to get up and running.

System Requirements

90 MHz or better Pentium Processor, Windows 95, 16 MB RAM, 2X CD-ROM drive, 40 MB free on hard drive, 28.8 kbps (or better) modem or direct Internet connection, Winsock 1.1 compliant TCP/IP stack

Bottom Line

Sole Survivor falls short of the glory it was intended to receive, mostly because of lack of variety in gameplay modes and lack of a good way to communicate quickly with others in the game. I must mention that lag is also an issue and makes gameplay choppy and interrupted at times. Bottom line … I was flat-out bored with this game after about 1 hour, and I would feel like a liar if I gave it more than a 60 out of 100. Westwood is still a fine company, and I will not let this one blemish affect my decision to rush to the store and wait in line to purchase C&C2: Tiberian Sun… and "That was left handed." See you all in the sequel.

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