Coffee Stain Studios has been releasing a steady stream of teaser trailers these last few weeks, getting everyone hyped up for its follow-up to 2011's Sanctum. Combining tower defense mechanics with a first person shooter core, Sanctum was a surprising hit. The sequel takes a slightly different path, riding the action train to Shoot-All-The-Things Town, leaving some of the strategy behind in favor of hands-on alien killing.
Among the most obvious changes in Sanctum 2 are the graphics. It is a very pretty game, with many more maps and variety of enemies than the original. A rudimentary story is presented through comic-like loading screens between levels. The new character classes add customization and replayability to the original formula. One of the best new features of Sanctum 2 are the bosses, which are truly epic and intimidating as they dash out and destroy everything you so carefully built.
The first Sanctum gave you a choice between allocating resources towards building towers or upgrading your weapons. You could carefully place deadly towers in the perfect positions in order to maximize their effectiveness, or ignore towers entirely, buy a bigger gun and take matters into your own hands. Weapon upgrades work a bit differently in Sanctum 2. And by "differently" we mean "you can't upgrade them". Instead, character-specific perks, equippable before loading maps, allow you to change how your guns function in battle. These affects are minor, allowing you to such things as add a small amount bonus damage, increase the effectiveness of hitting enemies in the weak spot, etc.
So, with fewer options for player weapons, has the focus shifted to building monumental towers to defend the core? Not exactly. Players have access to fewer types of towers on each map, with a menu of selections available differing by character. Sanctum 2’s towers have less fight in them than those in the original, since enemies are much tougher (though admittedly fewer in number). There is a hard limit to the number of towers you can build on a map each wave, and this limit is very, very low. Buildable areas are much smaller than before, but you still won’t have enough core towers available to make a decent maze until several waves have passed. Enemies with their glowing weak points will often saunter past your feeble barricades and require the gentle touch of your bullets before they bite the dust.