The original Sanctum was the first of its kind; it brought first-person shooter and tower defense together, creating a unique and really fun hybrid. Unlike most tower defense games, however, where the player’s role is limited to placing and upgrading towers, the game puts you in the middle of the action and requires you to shoot the enemies in order to defend the core. Sanctum 2 is the sequel to that game, currently being developed by Coffee Stain Studios and planned for release on PC, XBLA and PSN later this year.
There are four playable characters, each with their own abilities that range from double jumping to doing more damage to weak spots or close range. You can pick which character you want to play at the start of every map. Each character comes equipped with a primary weapon (that can’t be changed) and a secondary of your choosing. This makes each character feel unique and you can easily find a combination that best suits your play style.
A persistent leveling system has been introduced to the game that applies across all characters with a total of 20 levels. As you level up, you will unlock new weapons, new towers and perks as well as more slots for them. Perks help customize the characters to your liking even more, providing different bonuses to the way you hurt enemies, boosting the towers or applying different effects to your core.
When it comes to weapons, Sanctum 2 has an even wider variety than the original with a total of eight weapons. Each has a primary and a secondary fire mode, from a prototype gun that bounces electric shocks to a rifle that shoots explosives. The biggest change though, is the addition of an ammo counter that replaces the old heat system. This means you will have to always switch to your other weapon whenever you reload in order to maximize your damage output. The weapon upgrade system has been taken out, having to rely on perks to improve your weapons instead.
The way you build towers has been slightly altered. After each wave you will get a certain number of tower bases, which you can use to build your maze, and an amount of resources that you can use to build towers on those bases and upgrade them. Towers can be upgraded three times this time around, but you can use resources to overcharge any level 3 tower, increasing only its base attribute. You can also recycle and reposition them without any additional cost. Tower variety is around the same as the original with some towers inheriting the effects of the previous fields. The tower designs have overall been improved, almost every tower having been reworked to look better and even more futuristic than before.
The aim of the game is to defend the cores against the alien creatures called Lumes by using your towers and weapons. Most of the classic Lumes make a comeback in Sanctum 2, with a few new ones being added to the mix, like the armored heavy and the snorker. Just like with the towers, enemies have been polished so they look even better. The biggest change though is the addition of three bosses, each being an improved and bigger version of some normal Lumes, with different attacks and requiring different strategies in order to defeat.
Sanctum 2 has a total of 15 maps, some needing you to build an effective maze, while others will have you strategically placing your towers since you won’t be allowed to build a maze. The level design has been drastically improved, providing a lot more colorful and varied environments with the swamp levels being simply awe-inspiring. Most of the maps will usually have more than just one spawning point and some will even have more than one core to protect. This makes tower building more dynamic, since you will have to recycle and reposition some of your towers in order to ensure your success.
Difficulty has increased plenty, making everything more challenging. Compared to the previous games, Lumes are more aggressive and if you get close enough they will attack and kill you, which will put you on a 10 seconds respawn timer, leaving your core vulnerable. The bosses go even further than that and actually destroy tower bases and any tower placed on them, rendering it useless for the remainder of the wave. Fortunately, you can repair them for free but only at the end of the wave. Another feature is the customizable difficulty through the use of five feats that can be activated and make the Lumes harder to deal with, each providing a 20% boost to the experience gain. This makes the game extremely challenging, while at the same time providing a lot of replay value since you won’t be able to beat all the feats in your first playthrough.
Everything I’ve seen about Sanctum 2 is incredible, taking the ideas from the first one, improving on every single one of them and making it into what looks to be a brilliant sequel. It oozes more polish and you can feel the love that went into making it. The environments feel and look more alive, the enemies are more threatening and better looking, and the level of customization added makes Sanctum 2 a richer experience in comparison to the original. So make sure to keep an eye for when this game comes out and support this awesome developer.
Cirstoiu Alexandru, NoobFeed