Enemies are coming. Kill them.
Those five words form the core experience of any tower defense game. The enemies, settings, and weapons may vary, but in the end the goal is simple; defend a given object or area from the waves of enemies trying to push their way through by building towers to impede and attack them. Sanctum, released in 2011 to mostly positive reviews, added some first-person shooter elements into the mix by allowing the player to directly attack enemies with weapons. Coffee Stain Studios is the independent developer behind that game, and its sequel Sanctum 2 which is due to be released this year. I got a chance to play around with an early version of Sanctum 2, and what I saw definitely shows promise.
Other than that, a variety of towers, perks, and secondary weapons are unlocked as you play through the game and rank up. You’ll need to adjust your strategies and loadouts for each level; there’s a decent variety of different enemies, and you’ll need to consider their particular strengths and weaknesses when crafting a strategy. Success is defined as defending the “Core” on each map from waves of attacking foes. The Core has a limited amount of HP, and attacks from enemies will drain it. If it reaches 0, you’ll lose the level and have to try again.
Enemies won’t hesitate to target you as well; those with ranged attacks will fire at you while melee based units will give chase and lash out at you when within range. By using the build phase between waves to craft a maze of towers and blocks, using your own guns and weapons to deal extra damage, and simply knowing when to run, you can usually avoid taking too much damage. If your limited health is depleted, you’ll be taken out of commission for about ten seconds.
Variety of maps, weapons, and enemies combine to ensure the experience never gets boring. Some maps feature multiple enemy spawn points,
Overall, Sanctum 2 takes everything that made the original FPS/tower defense fusion work, and makes it better. Movement is more fluid, enemies are more challenging, and there is more variety in the game’s settings and weapons. Online multiplayer will add replay value but from what I’ve seen, the campaign alone already offers a very respectable amount of gameplay. The difficulty curve is a bit inconsistent and there are some issues with menu navigations, but if Sanctum 2 launches at the same price point as its predecessor, fans of the genre will have plenty of reasons to give it a try. In addition to a PC release, the game is also coming to Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network later this year.