Everybody knows about tower defense games. Let’s face it, there is an abundance of them but, what happens when you take a tower defense game and pour some first-person shooter all over it? You get Sanctum 2, a sequel to Coffee Stain Studios’ brilliant creation, Sanctum.
If you have, or haven’t played Sanctum, you should know that Sanctum 2 was completely reimagined from the original. There is a wide variety of new features that create whole new aspects of the game based on ideas that the Sanctum community shared with the developers. These enhancements to the game help improve the strategic aspect of the core gameplay. You’ll often find yourself contemplating where to put down or move towers, how you want to spend your resources, where to guide enemies coming from possibly several locations, etc.
In the game there are a series of locations on the world map that you unlock by completing previous zones. Within each zone there are a series maps to choose from, so there is no shortage of different locations to pick, even when playing multiplayer.
After selecting a map, players can choose from four characters which act more like classes with unique traits and primary weapons rather than simple character skins (which players can also pick from).
Skye Autumn, equipped with assault rife shoots at a high speed. Her ability that increases damage with each hit makes her quite powerful if you are able to stay on target. She can also double jump which is quite handy.
Sweet Autumn is very good with enemies that can fly. Her weapon called Rex, is basically a rocket launcher. Its secondary fire locks on to multiple enemies and deals great damage.
SiMo is the sniping character which entitles him to a scope which lets you easily target weak spots from a great distance. His ability which increases damage with consecutive weak spot hits can prove to be devastating to the enemy.
Haigen Hawkins is a tank. With more health and a shotgun, Haigen can get up close to enemies and blast them right in their butts, which coincidentally is where a lot of weak spots are located.
On top of selecting a character, there is even more a player can choose from to tweak the way they play the game. Secondary weapons end up being essential to gameplay so, choose wisely. Each weapon, including secondary weapons which a player unlocks through levels, has a primary fire (left click) and a secondary fire (right click). For example, the sniper’s primary fire is a single shot that deals massive damage and its secondary fire is a short range frontal blast similar to a shotgun.
Players can also choose from several towers. Tower selection is key for certain towers are good against some enemies while completely useless against others so, careful planning is key when picking which towers you want in your arsenal.
There are also perks to choose from. Each perk gives players extra abilities that can help them or even their base. I’ll give you an example of some. There are perks like
Hollowpoint Rounds which benefit weapon damage. Hollowpoints deal 100% weapon damage to an enemy every three shots. Then there are perks which give characters extra abilities such as Rymdskor which increases movement speed and allows players to double jump. There are also some perks such as Unstable Core which upgrade your base. This perk makes it so enemies are dealt 100 damage every time they hit your core.
Once players have selected their characters, weapons, towers and perks they are all set to begin the map which consists of multiple rounds. Each round consists of two parts. The first part is a set-up stage where players can place walls / towers, upgrade towers, move their layout if needed or trade walls / resources with teammates. Each set-up stage players are given more resources and wall parts to continue building. Some set-up stages are also timed, which makes you really have to think quickly in order to best use what you are given. If you don’t use all of your stuff, don’t worry, you’ll have it for the whole map.
Enemy paths are shown by orange lines that shoot across the ground during set-up. Players are able to place walls and place / upgrade towers with their right click. Towers can be upgraded to level three, any upgrades past level three go towards upgrading damage, speed or range. You are also able to remove towers with left click and are reimbursed fully for the tower and any upgrades you have put into it. This gives players some leeway and the option to replace walls and towers if need be.
After the set-up stage comes the enemies. Each round has different sets of enemies. Learning where weak spots are is crucial. Some enemies will take minimal damage from towers and it is up to the player to run in and take out these rascals. Weak spots are shown by glowing red/orange points on all enemies.
Having multiple players using different classes really helps when dealing with a wide variety of enemies. All enemies will come after you if you are in their path which is no good if you are one of the weaker characters such as SiMo. Even if you are standing on your walls, some enemies will come up and punch you right in the face, sending you flying off the wall or even spit gunk into your eyes. There are even boss enemies that can destroy your walls and towers which can be a pain to deal with, especially since you have to run up to each wall and rebuild it which, thankfully, doesn’t cost any resource points.
Overall I am thoroughly impressed with the new features that Sanctum 2 brings to the table. Players are given an abundant amount of customization to control which lets them tweak their playing style. This really helps build up the strategy aspect of the game. Controls are simple which makes the gameplay smooth between set-up and fighting. Note: I have only played the PC version of this game so I am unaware of how the Xbox controls are.
The first-person shooter aspect of Sanctum 2 really helps draw away from the sometimes boring “action” phase of common tower defense games by submerging the player into the battle with his/her towers and team members.
Game difficulty is right on par. Some levels you will find yourself running around killing enemies and laughing with your friends / team mates while during other rounds you will be cussing at your screen because for some reason the map is seemingly impossible.
One downfall is that some rounds / maps seem to take forever and, if they are easy to the point where you rarely have to fire your weapon to win it can get boring. Though most of the time this is fixed by a boss round or an enemy that you are forced to deal with.
If you are into strategy, FPS or both, Sanctum 2 is definitely the game for you. It is the perfect meld between the two genres. Highly recommended.