What have I done? How can I call myself a video-games journalist and miss a gem such as Sanctum? I’m not going to deny it, I’d never heard of the original and had no idea there was a game that bridged these two iconic genres. But now I’m aware, and now I’ve experienced it. Sanctum 2 is the upcoming sequel to the original FPS/Tower Defense hybrid. Does it improve on the original? Does it offer more content? Most likely but I cannot say for sure but I don’t care, as the few short hours I’ve played of the sequel have been one of the most intensely entertaining experiences I’ve had in years.
I wouldn’t consider myself a hardcore FPS fan and I only occasionally play tower defense titles as I spend my time on the lavatory releasing the aftermath of the under-cooked chicken kebab from the night before. However, even as only a moderate fan of both of these genres I could not have enjoyed my Sanctum 2 experience more than I did. Stay tuned for our full review after the release but for now I’ll take you on a sneak peak at some of the games features.
Character Customization & Progression
Firstly I’ll touch on the character customization and progression. There are 4 characters currently available, each of which have their own unique attributes that give them different strengths in battle. There’s everything from the fast firing Assault Rifle wielding Skye Autumn to the punch-packing Shotgun power of Haigen Hawkens. Each of the characters has been specifically designed to be able to counter certain enemy units. This creates a truly unique multiplayer experience as players will be forced to think on their feet with each individual character having to adapt to fighting certain enemy types. New weapons can be unlocked for each character and these vary just as much as the primary weapons. From explosive grenade shells to lightning gun that fries everything in a small radius, it’s all there.
Outside of the characters themselves is the player level. As you participate in matches, win or lose, you’re rewarded with experience points. As you gain more experience points and increase your level you unlock new turrets, new weapons and new perks. To begin with you can only select 1 type of turret to take into battle, but as you progress you unlock more turrets and turret slots, constantly increasing your devastating arsenal but we’ll get into turrets in a moment.
Complimenting the character progression further is the introduction of Perks. There are unique passive abilities that offer an extra level of depth to each mission. Perks can be changed between objectives and there’s currently over 25 to choose from, each with varying effects. One perk gives your ammunition electric qualities, bouncing between enemies and causing huge amounts of damage. While other perks heal your base, reduce enemy defenses or increase your movement speed, the combinations are almost limitless.
More Enemies Than You Can Swing A Club At
Aliens…Aliens and lots more aliens. I’ve encountered at least 10 different types of enemy so far and that’s after just a few missions. The variation between the aliens offers enough depth to provide a unique challenge for each and every wave. In true tower defense fashion each alien type has a certain strength and weakness. Some may move very quickly and avoid your slower firing weapons or harder hitting turrets; while others slowly traverse your labyrinth of death before attempting to put an oversized alien claw through your face. I quite often find that games attempting to bridge together two genres with such depth will often fall short with one or the other, but there’s no signs of that here. As if speed and damage wasn’t variation enough for a tower defense game each enemy type also has a certain weak-spot, rewarding and encouraging tactical play and cooperative attacks.
Adding even more, yes there’s more, difficulty to the game is the addition of flying enemies and the ones I like to call “Oh **** get the **** out of here”. Flying enemies are self explanatory and a real pain in the backside as they can avoid a lot of your defenses and head straight for the core of your base, quite often resulting in the player having to deal with them directly; trusting the turrets to take care of anything else on the way.
The latter of those two enemies, the giant ones that are complete destruction machines, just tear everything apart. They can break through your walls, destroying your painstakingly built labyrinth of death with a simple swing of their giant fists. As soon as one of these guys appear, and despite your better judgement, you’ll have to drop everything and charge them head on.
Turrets & Construction
The game continues to impress the more involved you get and the turret and construction system doesn’t disappoint. At the end of each enemy wave you’re airdropped some resources and tower bases, giving you ample opportunity to construct your defenses before calling in the next wave. The game does limit you to 10 towers at any one time which I did find to be a little lackluster at first, but you soon realize this system pays compliment to the turret defense aspects as you have to plan your strategies far more carefully.
There are almost as many turret variations as there are enemies. Quick-firing Gatling Guns to take out the Runners, large electric towers to destroy the heavies, slowing towers to aid with choke points and many more. I’ve only unlocked a few so far but there are already a huge variation of tactics and strategies that I can deploy. Each tower can also be upgraded to do more damage, fire faster or gain added effects such as AoE damage.
Overall I’ve had great fun during my time previewing Sanctum 2. There are so many more details and depths I’d love to walk you through but that’s for another day. I want nothing more than to get into the depth provided by adding a unique FPS free-roam mechanic to tower defense gaming but that’s a discussion better left for the review. We’ll be live streaming the game later today (2PM EST) on our Twitch.TV Channel so feel free to pop by and say hello. If you’ve missed it you can view the video on our YouTube Channel a few hours after the broadcast.