Against an army of alien invaders, the trusty turret has always got your back. Like its predecessor, Sanctum 2 is an enjoyable blend of first-person shooting and tower-defense-style strategy. Instead of watching passively as your towers do all the dirty work, you get to dive into the action and sow carnage alongside them. Both games execute this concept well, but Sanctum 2 has far more content than its small-scale predecessor. This is the fully featured, fully realized game this series needed, and offers lots to enjoy whether you're a strategy fan first and shooter fan second, or vice versa.
Though Sanctum 2 arms you with an array of destructive turrets, you're still the star of the show. Four characters are available at the start of each level; each is equipped with a distinctive weapon--such as an assault rifle or a shotgun--and enough firepower to be a tide-turning force in battle. Enemies attack in waves, and between each wave you are awarded funds to build new turrets and hazard-filled mazes for your enemies to navigate.
When fighting back an enemy wave, you must alternate between thinning nimble hordes of lesser foes and felling slower, heavily armored targets. The tempo is kept at a fast pace as you race up and down the arena checking (and rechecking) how close enemies are to the core, the turrets in their path, and how many shots it'll take to finish the job. You're constantly oscillating between mowing down grunts with reckless destruction and taking carefully aimed shots at the weak spots of larger foes.
On top of juggling different enemy types, you must juggle your selected character's weapons. Weapons overheat after a certain number of shots and take about five seconds to cool down. During those five seconds, you can swap to your secondary weapon and continue the assault. Some weapons are also more effective against specific enemy types, so by timing your cooldowns right, you can alternate weapons at the same time you alternate targets.
Towers are your support system. They pick off stragglers who survive your barrage and can be tailored to tackle enemy types you're not equipped to handle. However, during each match, you have only a finite amount of currency, which can be spent on buying new turrets or upgrading old ones. Finding the right mix of both is an interesting challenge that must compliment your personal armaments, enemy types, and map layout. When you finally hit that sweet spot, it's very rewarding as you dispatch enemies with ease.
Perks are another addition to your arsenal, and grant your character new abilities. Some make your shots damage multiple enemies, while others increase the firepower of turrets you stand near. Choosing the right perks can make your character either a well-rounded or a hyper-specialized fighter. Together with the numerous turrets and weapons, there's satisfying variety in how you can tackle each challenge.
And Sanctum 2 has a lot of variety. While the original game nailed its tower-defense-meets-fist-person-shooting design, its three levels and two game modes left you wanting more. Sanctum 2 has four sets of levels, and you can attempt each of these levels using up to five difficulty modifiers or play through them in an endless survival mode. These options are great for extending the game's longevity. On the flip side, if you're having trouble, you can invite up to three friends to join you online, or knock it down into easy mode to help even the odds.
With a smart blend of action and strategy, Sanctum 2 successfully combines two disparate genres into one cohesive--and enjoyable--whole. Whether you're a fan of its predecessor or are new to the series, there's a lot to enjoy in this genre-bending hybrid. Every element from the original game has been expanded upon, creating a lengthy adventure that continues to feel fresh even after multiple completions.