Go face to face with aliens to defend the core in Sanctum 2.


by TRACY-MARK GORGAS / Special contributor to NWCN.com


Posted on May 31, 2013 at 4:21 PM

Updated Monday, Dec 2 at 2:04 PM

What do you get if you cross a tower defense game with a first person shooter(FPS) game?  Hopefully you get Sanctum 2.  But does the mixing of these two game styles work?  Defend the core and we'll see.


Sanctum 2 is light on story.  It boils down to an alien invasion being fought off by your group of fighters, with the story being told between levels in a graphic novel style.  Each segment tells gives you a slight setup for the next map.  It does have a little character development for each of the player characters, but ultimately is secondary to the game play.

Controls and Gameplay

As stated earlier, Sanctum 2 is a hybrid of tower defense and FPS games with a hint of role playing.  It takes the best of the two styles and makes a heady cocktail of strategy and shooter.  On each map you fight waves of single-minded enemies who have one goal in mind, destroy your core.  Unlike your typical tower defense enemy, if you get too close they will turn to fight you face to face; a handy tactic to redirect the enemy if they start getting too close to your core.

The view is always first person shooter perspective, during battle or in the build phase between waves.  So you never really get an overview of the whole battlefield, but the maps are small enough that a complete overview is not needed.  You still have the ability to plan your layout effectively between waves.  Think carefully, because you get a limited amount of wall and tower placements during each building phase.

Sanctum 2 was built to be played as a co-op, with up to four players.  Ultimately this is the best way to play, but you can play through it by yourself, it's just a lot tougher.  Strangely, during the build phase, players must race back to the core to gather materials to build.  Whoever gets to the material first gets to place them.  In a way this really encourages players to work together.

After each map you gain experience points that unlock weapons, towers, and perks.  The weapons allow you to custom tailor the character of your choice to your style of play.  Each character starts with a different main weapon that reflects different styles of combat.  Whether you like getting up close with a shotgun, prefer sitting back with a sniper rifle, or somewhere in between, there is something for you.  Perks nicely give you small advantages that pay off in later maps when nastier enemies start showing up.

Graphics and Sound

Sanctum 2 takes on a stylized comic book animation art style reminiscent of Peter Chung's Aeon Flux, especially in the story segments.  The color palette seems a bit limited, but works none the less.

Keeping with the minimalistic story telling the sound department limited the voice acting to a few one-liners and exclamations.  The music is a nice techno-electric style that matches the fast pace of the game.


I never got around to playing the first Sanctum game.  After playing Sanctum 2 I wish I had!  I like playing well-done tower defense games and I love FPS games, so the melding of the two is a lot of fun for me.  I give kudos to Coffee Stain Studios for this.

The game's difficulty curve does take a sharp upstroke after the first few levels if you are playing by yourself.  It is highly recommended that you grab three friends to jump into this game with you, preferably ones that you can communicate well with.

Overall this is a good game to play with friends who share the love of FPS games.  The tower defense elements add a great strategy tactic that round out waves of fast and furious gameplay.  The story is light, but with gameplay this fun and entertaining it is forgivable.  I give Sanctum 2 a 4 out of 5.

Sanctum 2 is rated T for Teen for Violence, Blood, and Language by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB).

For more information see the Sanctum 2 section of Coffee Stain Studio's web site.