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Review: Sanctum 2

Coffee Stain Studios tower defense FPS Steam XBLA PSN

Developer: Coffee Stain Studios
Publisher: Coffee Stain Studios,

D3 Publisher, Reverb
Platform: PC (Steam), PSN, XBLA
Release Date: May 15, 2013
ESRB: T for Teen

This review is based on the Xbox 360 version of the game.
A download code was provided by the publisher for this review.



Tower defense game Sanctum initially came to PC in 2011 to surprise success. It was right around the time that the genre was getting a fresh start and PC gamers had a blast. Unfortunately, console owners were left out of the fun. With Sanctum 2, upgrades have been made, as well as bringing the game to Xbox 360 and PS3 alongside PC. Is this the definitive experience or can players skip it?

Sanctum 2 brings us back into the fight with even greater flair than before. Of course, it also retains the features that made the original so refreshing. This isn’t a traditional tower defense game as it includes FPS elements as well. Setting up towers is done from a first-person perspective and, once that’s done, so is each wave. When enemies swarm it feels much more like a sci-fi shooter although you have the aid of your towers along the way.

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At the start of each level, players must select one of four character classes. Each has their own skills which aid various play styles. Characters also have their loadouts which allow you to swap weapons, usable towers, and perks. At the start, you can’t really do anything with these, but completing levels rewards players with new weapons, towers, perks, and more slots to place them all.

Once in a battle, the game is divided into two sections. First is the mode of placing towers and the other is when enemies charge into battle. Towers can only go in specific areas and only if you have enough currency to place them. There are a multitude of tower types to choose from which all have their benefits and weak points. For example, some are best at slowing enemies, while others are great for land-based creatures only.

All towers have their own fee requirements and once built will remain there unless you choose to dismantle them for parts. They are also able to be upgraded a number of times, which is useful as each level has a max amount of towers that can be built. Placing towers is of such importance because there will usually be enemies coming from multiple directions at once. You could place all your goods around one entrance, but what will you do when a new entrance emerges? Keeping a plan in mind is absolutely necessary as waves become more hectic.

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With everything placed, the attack starts. Enemies will emerge from their specified entrances and you’re tasked with keeping them away from the core. The core is critical to mission success. If enough monsters manage to destroy it then you lose the match. There are perks to allow the core to regenerate health in between waves, but mostly, you should be able to keep enemies at bay for as long as possible. Using shotguns, sniper rifles, and a variety of other weapons you can curtail enemy progression, as long as attention is kept on the best way to dispatch them. Many enemies have red weak spots which are by far the best way to destroy their armored bodies.

Playing can be done in either single player or co-op. Up to four players can join in on the action via online play. This works well, and seems to be the intended mode of play. This is because, even on easy, maps can become pretty tough for a single player. There are some issues with multiplayer, but only if you’re not playing on PC. In fact, it seems that most of the problems with the game are only still present for console players.

When Sanctum 2 launched, it still required some tuning up. For one, the game would always throw you a new stash of resources near the core. This may sound good until you have to trek back from wherever you are in the level to collect them before building more towers. It was a completely silly design decision considering the game could just as easily automatically deposit them among players. In regards to multiplayer, it was also not possible to share resources among players. Instead, they could only be used exclusively per player which seemed unfortunate.

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These issues have been addressed in a patch for PC. Players on Xbox 360 will see no such changes however. Perhaps the patch will come to all systems later, but as of right now it definitely isn’t there. It’s a real shame considering there are so many small annoyances that were fixed but players like me won’t be able to experience the streamlined game - at least not yet.

Sanctum 2 is still a game full of mostly good concepts that upgrade the original. Players, either alone or in multiplayer, can have fun decimating wave after wave of enemies and there are enough levels to keep you entertained for a handful of hours. If you have to choose which version to get, though, it would be best to go with PC. Those in need of a new tower defense game may have just found a good new game to add to their list.

 

Pros:

+ Great deal of weapons and towers to use
+ Strategy is integral to success in later waves
+ Co-op provides a more accessible game

Cons:

- Post-release patch has not been applied to 360 game
- Becomes somewhat unfair difficulty-wise on single player
- Some levels are cramped


 


Overall Score: 7.5 (out of 10)
Good


Sanctum 2 stumbles in only few ways making it a worthy choice for tower defense aficionados.




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