Developer: Robot Entertainment
Publisher: Robot Entertainment
It’s easy to get hooked on a game with simple goals, especially when that game lets you go wild with creative gameplay in order to meet those simple goals.
Orcs Must Die! 2 is that game. It’s a vivid meatgrinder that concerns itself with fun above all, a true bastion of succulent gameplay for all ages and all skill levels.
If you haven’t heard of Robot Entertainment’s Orcs Must Die! franchise, here’s a quick catch-up:
The game is classic tower defense with an emphasis on traps and third-person combat. A deluge of enemy orcs crashes through gates and out of rifts in order to enter a portal to the outside realm, where they’ll be free to pillage many villages. It’s up to your player-controlled avatar to plan out defenses and distract the orcs from this goal.
There’s a currency system that’s based off of kills and combos, as well as an upgrade path for your traps and weapons. Each level is a playground where you can easily come up with many different ways to maim, burn, melt, skewer and generally toss orcs around in a bloody melee.
The game mixes in voiced dialogue at the beginning of levels. Between each level, we also have a voiced image slideshow telling us the story. The game’s story is neatly bundled this way and surprisingly it’s both entertaining and not at all forgetful. Quite a feat for a tower defense game.
Your character options are as follows; the main character, a warmage turned miner, is a delightful dolt and his sorceress nemesis from the first game returns as a sashaying trapper. Together, they make an uncanny orc-killing squad. They’ll lightly interact with each other before each level regardless of whether you’re playing single player or as a duo with a friend.
That’s right, this game has a well-implemented cooperative campaign (which in all honesty is just the solo campaign with two players). Co-op doesn’t end there; you can also play Endless mode with a friend. I recommend Hidden Gulch. It’s the perfect level for an endless co-op campaign.
The rest of the character roster is filled in by orcs, ogres, frost ogres, kobolds, thunderbats, gnolls, firebabies, etc. You’ll be seeing these guys a lot.
Orcs Must Die! 2 is fluid with its animations, something that’s instantly noticeable. Enemies crash and thud at high velocity, with some rather entertaining ragdoll physics that kick in when your traps collide with orcs. Instead of opting for smaller arenas with simple layouts, Orcs Must Die! 2 is set in larger venues of death, with twisting hallways and open spaces.
If you’ve played Orcs Must Die! already then you know all this. In fact, the animations, assets and general feel are a complete pull from the first game. The first Orcs Must Die! isn’t even a year old and that shows in the technical progress of the second game.
As far as the enemy list goes, I like the variety the game throws at you. There are several monster archetypes that then split into more classes, which require slightly different tactics to overcome. Ogres are generally big and resilient, stunning any unlucky players who stray too close to their club. Frost ogres are the same but are completely immune to frost traps, while also being vulnerable to fire damage.
The sorceress’ starter weapon of choice is thematically cool. Since she controlled orcs in the first game, she is able to do so again in this sequel. Though her mind control power has waned, she can still turn the orcs against each other, leaving behind a useful stun explosion once the charmed enemy is dealt with.
The warmage begins the game with a blunderbuss this time instead of his trademark crossbow (though you can unlock that later). The primary fire launches orcs backwards and even stuns some larger enemies, while the secondary fire lobs a grenade. Grenades are always useful.
This time around, most everything is available from the start (except for a few choice items that need story progress to unlock). That is, the traps are available but they will require a good amount of skulls to unlock, and then more skulls to master. Skulls are the upgrade currency of the game, giving players tiered access to the wide assortment of death dealers that the game provides. Do good in a level and you get more skulls than if you flubbed a wave. Aim for efficiency and you’ll be rewarded with more toys to play with.
And what devilish toys they are! Your classics from the first game make a return, including the ever vigilant spike trap and arrow wall. Those are joined by newer ones like the spore mushroom and my personal favorite, the haymaker.
Gameplay consists of scoping out a level, taking care to note all the entrances and what paths the orcs may elect to take to get to your precious rifts. As I’ve said before, the game is reliant on combos in order to make the most of each enemy kill. That means the most valuable kills are those that punish in many different ways before finally granting the mercy of an eventual death. Mix in fire with a blunderbuss shot and you’ll get a 2x combo. Add in a spring trap and you hit 3x. The multiplier gets larger as you, the player, get more creative.
This mechanic rewards the player who creates efficient and diverse kill zones. Plus, it’s always more fun to fully humiliate an orc before landing that killing blow. A corridor of acid traps only goes so far..
Orcs Must Die! 2 is an easy game to recommend. Robot Entertainment added to the original’s winning formula without souring the taste. Orcs Must Die! 2 wins as an action game, a strategy game and a puzzle game. It doesn’t have any flaws, and if it does, they surely aren’t visible. That said, it is a popcorn game that follows closely after the first. There’s nothing revolutionary about it – Orcs Must Die! 2 is a safe but fun buy.
If you’re reading this review because you’re thinking about buying the game, then please let me assure you that you won’t regret your purchase.
Actually, you may regret having too much fun with Orcs Must Die! 2 and forgetting about all those other games you spent much more money for. Such is life.