Here we go again. It was just a few weeks ago that we took a look at an innovative approach to the tried and true tower defense game wherein the roles were reversed such that the game was more accurately described as “tower offense.” Today we are previewing Sanctum 2 from Coffee Stain Studios, another game that strives to shake up the norm in the stodgy old tower defense genre.
At first blush, the premise of Sanctum 2 reads as an allegory for the way things used to be in our world. Rather than acting as a dispassionate central authority having complete control over the health and welfare of the citizenry but not facing any personal consequences for failures of tactics or strategy resulting from incompetence and/or negligence, the player in Sanctum 2 not only designs and implements the fixed defensive emplacements but also grabs a gun and becomes a foot soldier in the battles that ensue. This innovative shift will come as a boon to the player that doesn’t enjoy sitting back passively, hoping that the defensive strategy put in place will be sufficient to the need. No, Sanctum 2 is designed for the player that wants to get down in the trenches and participate in some of the down and dirty fighting. The strategic management of the defensive towers is also accomplished with the first-person view. While this aspect increases the immersive factor, it also bears mentioning that the player should be careful so as to avoid creating a trap for himself. The overhead view helps with this, but one should be careful lest one learn it the hard way.
Players will be able to choose from four distinct soldier characters who, as is typical, differ in their weapons and skills. With skills and weapons ranging from quick close-in response to stand-off sniping, there should be plenty of ways to make the tactical aspects of the game just as interesting as the strategic planning portion. The enemies that will be on the receiving end of the weaponry are insect-ish looking aliens. At least one of the weapons offers the player a choice between plinking away at an approaching enemy one shot at a time, or releasing the entire energy burst all at once. When choosing the latter, the player should have a plan for avoiding any further interaction with hostile aliens until the gun has a chance to recharge. This too was, ahem, a tough lesson to learn.
The graphical world in which all of the action takes place is rendered in an Anime-ish style that works well with the futuristic weaponry and characters, not to mention the icky looking alien invaders. The graphical style will also merge seamlessly with the in-game comic book pages used as cut scenes throughout the campaign mode. It all performs well.
As mentioned above, there are four character models to select from. This, probably not coincidentally, meshes nicely with the availability of a four-player co-op multiplayer mode. As hectic as the battles can become, that seems like it will be a popular option.
As can be inferred from the appended "2" in the game's name, Sanctum 2 is in effect a new and improved sequel to the original game. Having no prior experience with the original game does not appear to be much of a detriment, though. For those that have played the earlier version, Sanctum 2 promises notable improvements in all areas of the game, while those new to the game will be greeted with a helpful in-game tutorial to get them up to speed quickly. In either case, the hybrid mix between strategic planning and tactical first-person play provides an interesting and innovative approach to a classic genre.
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