Publisher: Cadenza Interactive
Developer: Cadenza Interactive
Minimum requirements: Microsoft Windows XP, Vista or 7; 2.0 GHz CPU; 1 GB RAM; Geforce 6800 Series/Radeon 9800 Series (Shader Model 2.0 compliant video card with 128 MB Ram); 430 MB hard drive space; broadband Internet connection; DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card
Genre: Tower Defense
Release Date: Available now
I’ll be honest; tower defense games have always given me anxiety attacks. Actually, anything with a continual stream of opposition that leaves victory conditions solely in the hands of the player has gnawed away at my obsessive side. This is because to me, everything must be perfect; absolutely flawless, in fact. One chink in the armor could spell immediate doom to my ego, even if I managed to save things somehow and survive the level. Sol Survivor appeared to be just that type of game, so I approached with extreme apprehension. I’ve played my fair share of TD games on Flash sites all over the Intertubes, so I feel like I know what to expect already, but let’s see if I can stow my idiosyncrasies and just try to have a good time.
For anyone not familiar with the genre, tower defense is a simple idea that has wave after wave of increasingly tougher enemies which usually follow a linear path on their way to hurt you real bad. Your job is to set up defenses along the way to prevent said nasties from reaching their goal. It’s a straightforward idea, but one that requires a certain amount of thought when you factor in different enemy types, resources, upgrades and all of the other additives Sol Survivor has listed on its nutritional info label.
In fact, the additives run so deep that Sol Survivor even comes with its own Encyclopedia to keep track of them all. Each enemy type is accounted for, that way you know which one of the 26 different turrets will be most effective when the Zerg-like rush begins pouring out of the drop ships. Machine guns, missile launchers, lasers, anti-air flak and more are selectable, but don’t think for a moment this is going to be a case of “build-wait-build”, because while these passive turrets do most of the dirty work for you, there are occasions where your “omnipotent assistance” will be required. This comes in the form of active air support powers that include sky lasers, firebombs and even nukes to even the score against those who manage to slip past your defenses. Just point, click and hope you have enough energy built up to do it again when the next wave hits.
Critically speaking, there’s a sort of design balance going on in Sol Survivor that I have yet to fully understand. While the turret defense concept is pretty simple, the 3D graphics give it an almost RTS look and fool you into thinking there may actually be some strategy hiding in the topography or camera angles you can employ. Unfortunately, I found nothing of the sort, and put victory down to choosing which turrets to put where and when to know a good time to use your active support powers. While this apparent superficiality initially disappointed me, the more commanders, turrets and power I unlocked, the better the time I had. That, plus the survival, co-op and versus modes edge Sol Survivor more towards the “buy” column in terms of content for price, which is only $10.
And you get every dime out of that $10, because functionally speaking; I had zero problems with Sol Survivor. Due to the modest system requirements, I was actually able to play it on my second, less than awesome computer at full settings. The graphics may be a tad simplistic and the music began to grate on me about 30 minutes in, but it evened out due to an easy to read interface and atmospheric sound design that goes well beyond the budget price. Don’t expect fathoms of gameplay necessarily, but do expect to be entertained for a few hours or even more if you have people to play with.
So, did the unrelenting attack of Sol Survivor make me anxious? Yes, but only after I put it on the “Intense” setting, which I heartily recommend for anyone who thinks they’re hardcore. This is a well put together game with an obnoxious amount of back-story and detail thrown in to offset the simplicity of the gameplay. As it turns out, there’s nothing wrong with that, although I would advise anyone on the fence about tower defense to download the demo on Steam first.