Sanctum 2 (Hands-On) (PC) Preview

By Javier Jimenez 30.04.2013

Review for Sanctum 2 (Hands-On) on PC

Building mazes is great. As a kid, who didn't sketch out a maze or two, or build one in the dirt, or out of cardboard or LEGO? It's easy to understand the appeal of tower defence. It's that act of construction in video game format, with the added incentive of stopping a horde of bad guys. In this special hands-on article on Cubed3, Sanctum 2 comes under the spotlight.

These last several years have seen something new in the tower defence genre, though. Like peanut butter and chocolate, someone went and had the bright idea of spilling a truckload of action all over said mazes. After all, building a deadly dungeon of doom is only great fun until having to watch helplessly as a horde of monsters waltzes straight through it to the goal and then --- *boom* -- game over.

That's where Sanctum 2 steps in. Another in a growing line of action tower defence, Sanctum 2 differs itself by mixing its tower building with first-person shooting. There's also some really nice graphics and music, too, and Cubed3 was lucky enough to get chance to try out a special preview version on PC.

Sanctum was already a nice looking game. Its sprawling sky cities with pulsing orbs, nice looking water effects, and exotic foliage were fun to spend time in. The colour schemes were very Mass Effect; clean, bright, and visually striking without being gaudy.

Sanctum 2 has taken that to a new level. The development team has obviously spent a lot of time ratcheting everything up to the next level. Visually, the game doesn't disappoint, with quality textures, nice object and model geometry, interesting tower models, and better enemy models. Sanctum 2 might not be a big budget game the likes of Halo, but it is fun to look at.

Other parts of the presentation have received just as much attention. The music is a nice hypnotic techno - not too heavy, not too soft - appropriate for the pace and setting. The interface is possibly the biggest improvement, though, with jagged text on bland backdrops being replaced with more professional looking interface elements. It's all nicely done.

Screenshot for Sanctum 2 (Hands-On) on PC

That's the sort of thing expected from a proper sequel, though. What isn't expected, however, are drastic changes in gameplay - especially from a rookie developer like Coffee Stain Studios. In most people's minds, a group of university students are more likely to lightly refine and expand their product, aiming for more success the second go 'round. Instead, Coffee Stain went and shook things up considerably. Gone are the unreachable towers from which players could shoot in safety; gone are the ten-foot high bricks; gone are the huge levels with 30 waves of enemies; gone are the teleport tiles.

It is action, and a lot more of it. In are four different characters with different primary weapons (machine gun, rocket launcher, sniper, shotgun). Also in is a ten-tower limit with three levels of upgrading per tower, plus "overcharging." In are three-foot bricks that can easily be jumped over. Plus, in are bosses that will rip up carefully designed mazes apart like mere paper. Oh, and the enemies attack back now.

These changes mean the game isn't just Sanctum, again. Sanctum 2 is its own game - one that has increased its demands on the player's skill and decreased the value of the maze and towers. Is it everything Sanctum players wanted, though? That's tough to say. What Cubed3 can say, however, is that it's fun in its own right; challenging, stressful, and rewarding.

Screenshot for Sanctum 2 (Hands-On) on PC

Final Thoughts

Cubed3 has to be confess to enjoying action tower defence games. Orcs Must Die, Dungeon Defenders, and the like, represent a nice mix of visceral and cerebral action. Sanctum 2 fits that description. It's a good looking game that plays well and doesn't do much egregiously wrong. While some of the changes may disturb long-time Sanctum players, anyone else will adjust very quickly. Coming in Summer 2013 for $14.99 on PSN and Steam, or 1200 Microsoft Points on XBLA, fans of action tower defence games will not want to miss giving Sanctum 2 a spin.


Coffee Stain


Coffee Stain


First Person Shooter



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  n/a

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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