Should I be excited about… Sanctum 2
Sanctum is a first person shooter blended with the tower defence genre, to create an awesome mix of rage fuelled duels with your relentless enemies and moments of hilarity as the invading forces are dismissed so casually by your ever powerful turrets. We were lucky enough to get a sneak-peek at Coffee Stain Studios’ Sanctum 2, which I hope will match it predecessors brilliance.
The basic goal for both single and multiplayer is defending your power core from being attacked. Enemies range from fast-moving , to overbearing boss’ that don’t necessarily take the route you planned out for the rest of their forces. The game is wave based and has an informational splash screen comic strip to relay relevant information to the player at the start of each new map.
Sanctum 2’s single player story is completely different to the prequel. There are four different characters you can choose to play as, and each having their own specific main weapons type and abilities. I am at heart a pacifist so I prefer to stay out of the heat of battle and tend to find a nice vantage point where I can pick off enemies with my sniper rifle. Wait did I say pacifist? I meant to say that I like one shotting people and shouting at my screen in the vain attempt of letting everyone else know that, that shot was mine. You all know it but I am just enforcing the point.
Anyways back to the single player! This time it has a full story behind it, with short comic strips explaining what is going on. As you progress through the story your character levels up. This in turn unlocks new abilities or perks, and even weapons and towers. However, you do not get to choose your main weapons, you just get to choose a character to play as at the start of each round. I feel this breaks the game a bit, you are part of an elite four person group/team but you don’t play as the same character all the way through, you get to choose your character, ok I am still with the story there. But when it comes to the round you are all alone. Your elite team members seemed to have abandoned you to be set upon by the throng of attackers. I can’t see why Coffee Stain opted for this approach; I like the story of an elite team of defenders that stop friendly encampments becoming besieged by the enemy. Although you do get to feel like Rambo during a lot of the game, going it alone wiping the floor with the tears of your fallen enemies – I feel I should note that this is not possible in the actual game.
In the prequel you were able to modify both your weapons and your turrets, in this sequel you are only able to upgrade the towers, albeit they do most of the work during the game, especially against certain mobs such as ‘Soakers’. I am not saying that the inclusion of these different characters are bad, but I would prefer to have my own character that develops throughout the game and that can upgrade their weapons. The enemies are really good in this game, they will follow your path and attack you, as opposed to barging you, as they did in the first if you got too close. I found this brilliant because you could lead the attackers away from the path if you stay close enough to them, allowing you to cause some serious damage. This is perfect for defending the core, as a lot of the faster, weaker enemies will be able to get past your turrets and will slowly damage core integrity whilst you deal with the bigger enemies.
The levels are all largely unchanged, with a certain area being provided for the player to lay towers and walls down that just so happen to be part of the route of the enemies. A lot of the game you’ll be laying walls down to create the maze for the enemies to traverse, how you build your maze is key. For example if you have a maze that has really long straights the enemies will be able to get to your power core faster. So a twisty maze you reply? Well… yes this would be ideal but you have limited resources available to build with. It makes getting a clear bonus damage shot easier. But the enemies are really slow at going round corners, and they tend to bunch up which is good if you are using a shotgun or machine gun.
The FPS aspects of this game are brilliant, the movement feels very much like Portal 2, you move just as fast moving backwards as you do forward – without sprinting. Jumping allows you to vault your own walls with ease, as well as allowing you to jump into a flanking position to score some criticals on certain enemies.
The tactical tower placement and upgrades can make or break a level. Sanctum 2 is very unforgiving, and as a rule of thumb if there are already towers built, you should just sell them for scrap.
The boss battles – at least the ones I have faced – don’t really feel like boss battles. The bosses are stronger than other mobs, and they go down swinging, they even have different strategies than other enemies. For instance the first boss will go after your turrets and destroy them with one swing of its mighty arm, but the other enemies do not take the shortest route where there is now space, they carry on with the path that was paved for them at the start of the wave.
I highly recommended keeping an eye on Sanctum 2. Challenging, and with co-op it is a brilliant game to play with friends. Having to rely on each other in the original Sanctum caused irreparable damage to friendships around the world, but it also forged bonds and memories between friends and stories that will continue into the sequel.