|Developer: Coffee Stain Studios
Publisher: Coffee Stain Studios
Release Date: Out Now
Players/Online features: 1-4, Online Co-op, Leaderboards
Sanctum 2 is a strange beast - an alliance of tower defence and first person shooter, with the entire game played from the first person perspective. The tower defence part is played out with time between attack waves to run around and place walls and turrets, bought using a pre-set per-wave points allowance. In multiplayer, players take turns to place turrets within the total time limit - with later players able to move or delete already-placed defences, leading to numerous and obvious trolling opportunities from both sides...
The on-foot placement is fine in the early stages, but not so good on later levels when the layouts get so over-complicated that they become difficult to navigate. There's no option to repair turrets during attack waves, as only 'Boss' enemies (huge, extremely durable versions of regular enemies), even notice them. Points can also be spent on upgrading turrets, increasing their (initially puny) damage and range, but unfortunately with little or no visual difference to the in-game models. Turrets seem to be deliberately weak to ensure there's something left for you to actually shoot in the FPS sections—it's not unusual for you to have to kill several times as many enemies as the turrets, making the turret laying tower defence part of the game occasionally a little meaningless. This becomes more apparent later on when many enemies have only a single vulnerable spot which the turrets totally ignore, instead shooting at their armoured parts and doing literally no damage whatsoever.
...the sound effects predictably get extremely repetitive with the endless waves of Lumes making various bleating sounds as they're very slowly gunned down by continuous gunfire.
There are four different characters to choose from; a woman with an assault rifle, a younger woman (possibly her sister) with a rocket launcher that apparently sets enemies on fire (but not in any particularly noticeable way), a large robot with a sniper rifle and a guy with a foreign accent and a shotgun (and, for no reason whatsoever, an enormous robotic hand). Every character can carry secondary weapons and equip special abilities called 'Perks'—once you've unlocked them by levelling up. Perks are shared between all characters, so there isn't the same level of individuality between characters as in Borderlands for example. Combined with the threadbare story, this makes them seem more like loadout choices than actual characters. New weapons, turrets and the ability to use more types of turret at once are also unlocked by levelling up.
Unfortunately the levelling up/unlock system seems designed to slow down your progression and encourage level grinding to progress - after racing through the first few levels, there comes a point where your existing weapons and turret options just won't cut it, purely because they don't do enough damage to kill enemies before they stroll on past you and destroy your Core (which, incidentally, has less health than all but the very weakest Lume) and some serious levelling up is needed to progress. You can always drop the difficulty, but the gulf between 'Normal' and 'Easy Mode' is so huge that there's little point even playing on Easy.
As far as I can tell, the target audience is people who watched Aliens and, rather than wishing they had a Pulse Rifle or wondering why Ripley's pants were so small, came away wanting to be an automated turret.
The problem is the two genres, as presented here, just don't mesh well together. The best strategy for Tower defence is generally to herd your enemies down a narrow corridor lined with turrets, leaving only a single entrance to your base. This leaves you in the shooter sections basically playing the role of the automated turret standing at the end of the corridor. Except here you never run out of ammo, removing almost all tension from the experience. It's a bit like playing CoD: Zombies but with all the zombies coming through the same window and most of them having no interest in trying to eat you.
So, Sanctum 2 is an average tower defence game combined with a dull and uninspiring FPS, with 98% of your time spent in the FPS part. Time that could be spent learning a new hobby, watching some decent films, reading a good book, hanging out with friends, or just playing a much better game, of which there are many.
- Online co-op mode.
- There's a demo, so you can try before you buy.
- It's cheap to buy.
- You get what you pay for.
- Lack of immediate threat to player character.
- FPS gameplay is very repetitive.