Four characters are at your fingertips, each wielding their own weapon (a sniper, assault/automatics expert, grenadier girl, and shotgun dude), as you scramble to protect your core on various maps. Before each wave, you’re given resources to place various walls and turrets to impede the advances of in-coming enemies. Though the game seems to play to the “mindlessness” of the FPS genre, it wants you to think as you’re shown the path the enemy will take and exactly how many of each type that. This knowledge gives you enough information to put some good thought into how you want to organize your defense for each wave.
The idea is that you’re not allowed to completely block the path of the attacking monsters. When you do place a block on the highlighted enemy path, the glowing line they will walk down will readjust, allowing you to see how you want to place your next piece.
The game is as much of a tower defense game as it is an FPS and playing it involves an interesting thought process. Barriers and turrets not only act as an obstacle for the enemy to get by, but also act a your cover.
Adding to the FPS side of the experience is the improved enemy AI. In the original Sanctum, enemies just walked down their path regardless of whether they were taking fire from you or not. Sanctum 2 boasts smarter enemies that will stray from their pre-destined path when they notice they’re being shot at — some of them charge directly at you.
Coffee Stain Studios might be on to something here as they’ve found a very compelling hybrid of two very popular genres. Sanctum 2 is projected to be released around late-Spring/early-Summer, and an XBLA/PSN release date yet to be announced. One thing to note, though (and we’re talking to you “judge a book by its cover” types!), is that the screenshots that were made available to us don’t exactly highlight what we think are the strengths of the game. The screens would indicate an emphasis on the environment, but I don’t think the environment stood out as much as the gameplay did. Either way, Sanctum 2 plays interestingly enough to garner your attention.