Coffee Stain Studios' first entry in 2011 with Sanctum was an absolute surprise and interesting twist on tower defense. When in the building phase, you were placing defenses from an overhead view. Then, when in battle, play from the first-person perspective similar to a shooter. The game was supported by a lot of paid DLC, and some free DLC. The co-op multiplayer was fun as well. They've been hard at work for a sequel, and have announced a release date.
Sanctum 2's organic intro seamlessly begins the story blends the building and active into one, all from first-person. Britech is being attacked in waves, and you'll see things on fire and scientists scrambling. It's neat to see rather than this disconnected areas. You get a mini-map in the upper left-hand corner showing you the arena and the flow of the monsters. And you'll be able to setup barriers or barriers with guns to alter the path and lengthen their travel time to the core. Pretty standard fare for tower defense. The varying difficulty in the enemies that spill out of the monster faucet keep you on your toes and allow you to vary your strategy.
Weapons are mostly the same as the first game, you'll have the shotgun, sniper rifle, and assault rifles. Each of them have a costly reload time, so switching weapons frequently is key. The towers have different abilities, such as rapid-fire, semi rapid-fire, lighting, and others. Staggering your towers to do different things will slow them or have a greater damage when everyone can focus on the larger health enemies at one time.
Multiplayer is cooperative. You and friends or strangers can team up to fend off waves of enemies from reaching and destroying your core. Resources are first-come, first-serve when waves are completed. The first person to grab them, is able to start setting up the next defenses in the next 30 seconds. It can cause some competition and contention, but if you're working together, you can trade-off roles. As long as communication stays up, can pull through it.
Unreal Engine 3 continues to impress. While not all visual options were available, such as setting the field of view. But it runs at a solid 60fps and doesn't chug at any point, either online or off. Because this game is coming to XBLA as well, controller support is available in the PC version as well.
Sanctum 2 feels more cohesive as a game. Coffee Stain Studios has learned a lot from the first game, and subsequent DLC releases. From the very beginning, it sets a tone that the game is more of the same with improvements to story and gameplay. If you're looking for a different type of tower defense, Sanctum 2 is sure to be highly enjoyable with or without friends.