Sanctum 2, the sequel to the 2011 game, blends the two genres of First Person Shooter and Tower Defense. The most immediate aspect that I noticed whilst playing this title was that it doesn’t sway towards one of the two genres more, instead bringing something completely balanced to the table.
You play through levels in waves, like any tower defense game, but what’s different to this tower defense game is that you can move the pieces of your deadly and destructive puzzle around at the end of each wave. At the start of the wave, resources will drop in the form of a ‘tower base’ and ‘resources’. You use the tower bases to block off different areas, forcing the enemies to run along the path you want them to. You essentially end up creating a maze except there’s no prize at the end of this one, Jimmy, only death.
Once you’ve placed the tower bases, you can put armaments on top using resources. The majority of these armaments are gun turrets which serve different purposes, but there are also ‘passive’ towers, so to speak. These passive weapons allow you to spawn in mines and the like. They don’t directly damage the enemy until the player has interacted with the tower. You can also use resources to upgrade your towers both passive and active.
If, for some unknown reason, your maze of destruction doesn’t kill your enemy, don’t fear, you’ve got two guns at hand. Your first is your primary weapon and unique to each of the four players; Skye Autumn returns from the original Sanctum, toting her trademark assault rifle, Sweet Autumn joins the gang with a rocket launcher for those who enjoy a more hands on approach, SiMo handles the long range defenses with a sniper rifle and Haigen Hawkins gets up close and personal with a shotgun. Each player can then hold a secondary weapon which you can unlock as you play through the game. Every weapon has a primary and secondary mode of fire. The secondary attack is more powerful however, requires more ammo to use it.
When you’ve finish a level, you gain XP (whether you succeed or fail will vary the amount) which inevitably levels your character up. You have to level each of the four characters up individually. Once you’ve leveled up enough, you will unlock perks. These perks give your character extra powers, for instance, giving you 40% more damage to an enemy's weak spot or allowing any bullets you shoot to bounce to nearby enemies.
Your perks, weapons and towers are all equipped before the level and once you’ve started, you can’t change these. This means that you have to think ahead of what towers you might need to protect yourself. Whilst to begin with, you can only start with two towers, as you level up, you unlock more tower spaces thus allowing you to greater diversify your arsenal.
Whilst the campaign can be played solo, online co-op is available and we highly suggest it. In co-op mode, you have up to three teammates and each of those teammates can be a different character holding different towers. This means that you can greatly increase your variety of towers and weapons. This doesn’t mean that you get more resources or tower blocks, so coordination is key here.
The gameplay is very fun and very frantic at times, increased by your teammates running around, trying to cover certain sections of the maps that you haven’t been able to secure yet. The maps themselves are varying in difficulty, as you would expect, and often surprised us, appearing enemies from a spawn point we didn’t know existed and leaving us up a creek without a paddle. This means that you have to constantly change your tactics and tower layouts to counter each wave.
Graphically, the game is beautiful and there’s just something about the way that the light bounces off the slime on an aliens back that brings a tear to our eyes... well, at least until we decide that alien is no longer allowed to live and we take them down.
Overall, Sanctum 2 is a deceivingly tactical title which makes the player constantly rethink their next plan of action. There’s no simple running and gunning to be found here, gamers. This game will keep you active, focused and if you let up for even a second, you could lose everything.
- Diverse array of towers
- New characters bring a lot to the plate
- Constantly having to rethink your plan
- Can get a bit hectic at later levels meaning one slip up and you die