A hybrid first-person shooter & tower defense game with a smattering of RPG flavor, Sanctum 2 follows up its popular predecessor with more strategic options and fast paced action than before. The game pits players against waves of marauding alien invaders in a stylized sci-fi universe, though there are plenty of tough towers and armaments to keep the enemy at bay.

The love that developer Coffee Stain Studios has for the genres that influenced Sanctum 2 is evident from the get-go, as players are able to play as one of four classic FPS archetypes with unique weapons and abilities. Whether you decide to go for the assault rifle-wielding squad leader, the quirky grenadier, the close quarters shotgun specialist, or the robot rocking a wicked sniper rifle, there are enough choices to keep the gameplay fresh even after a few playthroughs of the single player campaign. If you can’t decide which class you think would work best for a particular level, I suggest inviting up to three other friends to join you for a few rounds of multiplayer mode.

Complementing the upgradable character classes in Sanctum 2 are stylish sci-fi towers loaded with weaponry that- if placed correctly on a map- will help you survive. Seasoned tower defense gamers will love the depth of chain gun turrets and such that become available as the game progresses, though a nagging gameplay component does present itself in multiplayer when it comes to tower management.

When teaming up with others, whoever picks up the resources earned at the end of an enemy wave is the one with the ability to place towers. With friends this shouldn’t be a problem, but in a pick-up-group all it takes is one Leeroy Jenkins to ruin your best laid plans. As anyone in a multiplayer game is also capable of recycling towers at will, even if you create the perfect kill maze for the aliens to scurry through, one accidentally (or intentionally) deconstructed tower can open gaping holes in your defenses and bring on a level wipe.

As a downloadable title with a relatively low price point and high replay value in both single and multiplayer modes, Sanctum 2 is an absolute steal. Aside from the static comic book panels used to tell the story in between levels, the game is a very polished experience. I’d even go so far as to say Sanctum 2 can hold its own among other high quality tower defense titles like Orcs Must Die! 2 and the ever-popular Plants vs. Zombies. It really can be that fun.

The title’s frantic FPS point-of-view really ratchets up the intensity as snarling aliens are headed straight for you, making a perfectly timed headshot or massive explosion that much more satisfying. If you’re even mildly curious about playing Sanctum 2 or a fan of either tower defense games or first person shooters, go ahead and give it a download- you won’t be disappointed.

Sanctum 2 is available now on Steam, Xbox Live Arcade, and the PlayStation Network.

Sanctum 2 Launch Trailer

Sanctum 2 Trailer