Sanctum 2: Defense Done Right
A new genre of games has emerged in recent years: the tower defense hybrid. It started with Dungeon Defenders, the excellent tower defense/RPG hybrid with a lot of charm and a sense of humor, and continued in Sanctum, a sci-fi shooter/defense hybrid. Now we have Sanctum 2, heir to the shooter/defense title, and a worthy heir it is.
Sanctum 2 works about as advertised: ou are trying to defend your power core from a group of alien mobs who want to break it. to do this, you are given several resources, mainly towers to defend the way to your base and guns to shoot the baddies with. You are also alloted a certain number of tower bases which you use to build towers and create or alter the path enemies take to your core. You gain more tower bases after each wave of attacks. Once the creatures are on their way, you pull out a gun and start shooting the enemies yourself.
The game is class based and has a progression system. There are four classes plus, at present, one DLC class with likely more on their way. Each class has a primary weapon that is only usable by that class. Yes, the shotgun and sniper are behind a class wall. Each class has it's own traits that slightly affect combat, like the shotgunner, who has more health and deals more damage up close. I play mainly as Sweet Autumn, who has a missile launcher and sets enemies on fire with each attack. You also have a secondary weapon slot and perks that alter the ways your characters perform. As you rank up, you gain new perks, towers, and secondary weapons, as well as slots to bring these along with your characters. rank is related to your account and is not separate for each character, so all characters share the same pool of perks, secondary weapons, and towers. It's important to note that you don't get to choose what you get as you rank up, there is a set progression all the way up to Rank 25.
Gunplay feels really nice in this game, which is a great switch from the previous entry where it was quite bland. Each weapon has a primary and secondary fire button. Primary fire is usually just a direct shot, with damage and shot speed dependent on the weapon type. Assault rifles fire fast, missile launchers fire slow, etc. Secondary fire has varying properties depending on the weapon. For example, Skye Autumn's assault rifle has an underbarrel grenade launcher, while the Voltaic Hand Cannon gets slower firing homing shots. As far as enemies go, most have critical hit zones that take extra damage, so it's good to aim for these. Some enemies only take damage in these critical hit zones, so it's good to watch out for them.
The last thing to speak of here is difficulty. The game is not easy, and gets progressively harder as new alien types are introduced. The first three levels are set much easier, to let you get the hang of how the game flows. The fourth level ramps up the difficulty a lot and gives you your first boss. bosses can break tower bases and towers, so it's important to focus on them and kill them A.S.A.P. So far, I've been able to, with effort, get a perfect defense on the first six levels (there are 16 in the main game, plus four more in the DLC pack). There are also Feats of Strength in the game, that allow you to buff the enemies in exchange for more experience on a given level. There are five separate Feats of strength to activate, and each ramps up the difficulty quite a lot. If you feel like a challenge, you definitely have the option to make one for yourself. There is also a survival mode, which lets you see how long you can last in a run of infinitely spawning enemies.
The game has a drop-in, drop-out online multiplayer component. players can jump into your game at any time to give you a hand, or you can invite friends to come along. With this, you can bring along up to four players, allowing for four different classes and up to 16 different tower types, which creates a much more varied defense strategy. Each player gets their own resources at the end of each wave, which they can use on their own towers or give to another player to boost a different tower type. The "join game" option takes you to a menu showing all games currently in progress. You can filter it by level, Game Mode, and whether or not feats of strength are active. Conversely, you can just hit the quick match button and jump into a game right away.
Sound and story
The game has very little story to speak of. The alien species known as the Lume is attacking humanity, and it's up to you to defend it. each level has short comic panel or two beforehand detailing what your objective is, and there is a progressive story, but it's not easy to follow an it doesn't add a lot of importance to the game. You don't lose a whole lot if you skip past these, but if you want a story there is one there.
The sound, however, is spot on. there's good ambient background noise that makes you feel as if you are in a tense situation, while exuding an overall sci-fi feel. It's perfect backdrop noise to shooting up a bunch of aliens that are trying to blow up your cores. The gun sound effects are great. They sound very sci-fi and help give a much more visceral feel to each weapon. There is also voice acting for each character. Skye Autumn is your typical tough female lead, Sweet Autumn is her sorta creepy younger sister that seems cute and a bit too excited about the aliens, SiMO is the helpful robot, and Haigen is your typical cocky quick firing secondary hero.
Overall, Sanctum 2 is highly fun, and I would recommend it to anyone who is a fan of shooters and tower defense games. It's a great find, it's difficult, and it's just a lot of fun.