Microsoft Xbox 360 (PS3)
ESRB rating: Teen
Review rating: 3.0 stars
Tower defense games have become hugely popular in the last few years, so it's not surprising that genre hybrids are starting to emerge. "Sanctum" was the first game to blend tower defense with a first-person shooter, and "Sanctum 2" builds upon this concept. It's just too bad that the main focus has switched from strategy to twitch-based shooting.
Although the plot isn't very interesting, I appreciate how it's told in stylish comic book panels. Basically, four different characters react in their own way to an alien outbreak. It's incredibly generic, but it does give players a reason to protect their energy cores.
For those new to tower defense games, the goal is to place towers along a route leading from the location where enemies spawn to whatever it is the player is tasked with protecting. Most games in this genre force players to sit back and let the towers automatically do all the work, but "Sanctum 1 & 2" let players dive into the action and help their towers fight enemies.
While the original game let players set as many towers as they could to fight the enemy, the sequel limits the number of towers. Fortunately, there's a decent variety of towers that can be upgraded during each level.
The shooter elements are fairly standard, but several new features ramp up the action. For starters, players now have unlimited sprint as well as an iron sights view. Other handy features include the ability to customize a secondary weapon and a cool perk system that lets players unlock special abilities for themselves and/or their towers. Also new is an online cooperative mode for up to four players.
Some gamers will love the new focus on action in "Sanctum 2," but I feel like the series has lost much of its personality.