May 19, 2013
Sanctum 2: In Depth
Well, it’s that time of year again. Yes, summer is here and in full swing, and by that I mean I’m already losing track of the days while simultaneously being so bored I could find entertainment in watching paint dry on a deck at the base of Niagara Falls. But, hey! Summer isn’t all that bad as it has given me a chance to finally play through my steam library in an attempt to find some game with Co-Op so I can at least half heartedly say I spent time with friends this summer.
While this may just be part of the post-Bioshock Infinite slump, lately it just seems all the games coming out have been utter shit. Yes, one shouldn’t expect the same from all game studios, but we can at least get a sample, can’t we? For at least a month after Infinite’s release, it felt like this was going to be a shitty year for gaming. Then, until from seemingly out of nowhere, rode Sanctum II atop the tank that is Coffee Stain Studios, bringing an ass kicking the likes of which we may have never seen before (well that is if we don’t include Chuck Norris and Bruce Lee) and solidifying its place in my heart as a game I raged at.
Personally, I don’t think it should be called Sanctum II, because that may imply that there was something wrong with it and needed fixing. The game is more about ramping up the difficulty from the first Sanctum and trimming some of the fat, perhaps renaming it Sanctum: Revenge of the Walkers would be more accurate because, holy hell, they hit hard. The little bastards have learned from their mistakes and seemly mastered the art of face punting you until nothing but a liquid substance is left. Honestly, I had gotten so used to the block height of Sanctum where all you had to do was shoot down to win and the mobs just seemly passed like you three week old cheese. I decided I was Kitty Pryde and stood in the path of them, only to find myself flying off the edge of the map like Bill Clinton’s pants whenever a new intern arrives. Whenever I first told a friend about it, he laughed and said “Just stand on the blocks, to which I responded by letting him get punted off of the blocks into oblivion.
If it seems like I’m going on a tangent about the mob variety introduced in Sanctum II, it’s because I like it very much. In addition to the mobs returning from the previous game, they’ve added a new plethora to increase the punishment. The Walker went off and got busy, spawning a herd of little ones that when you turn around like to stare at you like the sisters from The Shining. But hold onto your crosses, there’s more, because said walker also seemingly bred with the tank and created the warrior walker. And just because occasionally mutations happen, the Walker Patriarch (or as I’ve referred to him “Captain Dicksmash”) likes to occasionally enter the area and smash your towers into a fine powder, which I’ll take a guess and say may be the source of his strength when snorted. There’s also a group of spitting enemies (one flying and one grounded) and, aside from occasionally blasting the core, really are just there to aid in liquefying your face by slowing you down. Finally, there are the Heavies, which after first killing one made me question if the Devs were trying to make a joke with it by placing the only weak spot on its ass. I know that I’m leaving out the Rhino, but that’s only because the maps don’t really allow him to charge at full speed.
Now that I’ve found a way to transition into the maps, I’d like to take a minute to compliment the art team, as each map is enthralled with detail and occasionally littered with hidden landmines. Okay, minutes up. Let’s actually talk about the good and bad of them. There’s a part of me that’s screaming out “Where’s the rest of the map, this is tiny” but shortly after thinking that I can remember every time I got stuck in Facility and had to run all the way back to where ever I was because I was a dumb ass and didn’t drop a televator. Speaking of which, what happened to them? Sure, the air vents are nice and its’ fun to blast yourself across the map, except occasionally you go a bit too high and end up smacking into the wall. Overall it feels that the maps have been shrunk down, but not so much that it interferes with the gameplay.
The gameplay is pretty much what you would expect of it, that is to build and upgrade towers while simultaneously gibbing bodies apart like their filled with explosives. The guns have a nice meaty feel to them and even have corresponding sounds with them. The towers still feel nice and deadly although it did bother me ever so slightly that they can only be upgraded to level 3 until I realized you can just overcharge them until they become one hit kill weapons. With that said, I’m still a tad bit disappointed that there’s no longer any ground fields, but I guess I can see why they consolidated them into towers whenever they changed the shape of the towers.
Lastly, there’s the character system and, to put it simply, it works well. The game does get progressively difficult as you move through and having certain towers, weapons and perks unlocked as it gets more difficult keeps you from starting a wave and going for a walk effectively meaning you do the same amount of work. I heard a small group of people moaning about the new characters and how each one of them has a different ability tied into them, but that’s to make the single player aspect of it easier. Honestly, the only problem I’ve had with the game is the people in it, whether it be resource hogs that kept recycling my towers to fund their Gatling gun or the day one connection issues, both of which were sorted out in the latest patch. I could gripe about a few minor things, but most of those are floors become hollow at certain points if you go exploring. If I could add anything to the game, it would be a “Retro Mode” of sorts, with a supersized map akin to Facility of the first game, with the same number of towers available as in the first game.
Overall, I love this game quite a good bit and, cheesy as it is, feel it needs to be scored. I give it a 9.5/10 with the .5 missing because I do miss my floor fields. Keep up the good work Coffee Stain.
Image Credit: Coffee Stain Studios