The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Sanctum 2 blends FPS mechanics and tower defense so well
that it brings out the best of both worlds. On one hand, you're outwitting
enemies by creating mazes with a variety of towers that damage them. On the
other hand, the variety of enemy types brings chaos, forcing you react on the
fly. Planning gets you ahead, but making choices in the heat of the moment is
just as important. This dichotomy makes Sanctum 2 some of the most fun I've had
with a tower defense game in a long time.
Sanctum 2 forces tactical thought at every turn. It starts
with tower placement, which helps prevent the enemy from breaking through to
the core you're defending. With each level and wave, you have a certain amount
of towers to place. These tower mazes prolong enemies' trek to your core, while
special towers damage the monsters; slow-firing lightning towers, quick Gatling
turrets, and mine-producing towers are all part of your arsenal. Each of these
is effective against a different type of enemy, so you must choose your loadout
While you can see the different enemies appearing in each
wave, the short time between waves forces you to rapidly execute a plan of
action, intensifying the challenge. A big part of Sanctum 2's fun comes from
discovering new ways to stall enemies' path to the core with labyrinths, or
placing deadly combinations of attacking towers and watching the enemies fall
like dominos. I loved crafting paths and the resource management aspect tested
my mind constantly, keeping my head in the game.
Once enemies start appearing the field, the towers control
themselves and you must use the only other resource at your fingertips: guns.
Each of the four selectable characters comes with a unique advantage and gun
type. Playing stages - even if they end in failure - levels you up, unlocking
more guns, towers, and perks. Character perks provide an edge, like giving you
40 percent more damage to enemy weak spots or healing your core after every
round. The gunplay is smooth, and deciding where to focus your firepower becomes
just as important as tower placement. For instance, some of the larger enemies
have high HP, and draining them before they get to the core is essential
because your towers alone just aren't enough for the job.
The campaign can be conquered in single-player or via online
co-op. Both have strengths and weaknesses. I had the most fun playing with a
group, especially in the late waves when complete pandemonium hits and the
enemy spawning seems endless. The intensity of the fight is so much greater
with others by your side. Levels are easier to take down with a group, but coordinating
tower placement with others is more difficult. It becomes a free-for-all as to
who picks up the resources for towers. If one person in the party isn't on the
same page and takes the towers, it can cost the team victory.
Sanctum 2 does a lot right, but it does make small missteps.
Sometimes I would get stuck in the environment and struggle to get free. And
while it's extremely accessible, sometimes finding the perfect strategy
requires too much trial-and-error. Tower placement often dictates success, even
if you're an expert gunner. In levels with 10 or more waves, a single mistake
with your towers in wave 5 can cost you everything. Sanctum 2 is definitely for
those who love experimenting and can handle a loss, as long as it teaches a
lesson. I didn't mind learning from my mistakes, but it can be tough when you have
to see some of the same levels several times while correcting the error of your
Sanctum 2 shines brightest when it's forcing you to think
and consider all the options it places in front of you, from tower choice to
which enemies to gun down to what perks are the most advantageous. Being tested
on and off the battlefield with my decisions kept me constantly picking my
brain. For those who enjoy tapping into new creative ways for victory, Sanctum
2 doesn't disappoint.
Email the author Kimberley Wallace, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.