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PC Game Review of Orcs Must Die 2


Reviewed by Jim Zabek, 17 August 2012

Developer: Robot Entertainment; Publisher: Robot Entertainment

A great action/tower-defense hybrid for the Orc-crushing fan, Orcs Must Die! 2 is a sequel that picks up where the original left off and raises the bar.

Orcs Must Die!

With a name like that it has to be good, right? It is. Orcs Must Die! 2 is an improvement on the original game in every way. Offering more traps, more upgrades, new levels, and introducing a multiplayer component, the sequel takes what is already a great game and makes it even better.

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Sproing! I take a rare moment to admire my handiwork as I fling a hapless orc over a cliff.

 

For gamers who haven’t played the original, the gameplay is a cool twist on tower defense, combining first-person action with cleverly placed defensive items. The player takes on the role of a mage’s apprentice and must protect a number of Rift Points. For each orc entering the rift at least one Rift Point is lost (some larger orcs consume more Rift Points). Depleting Rift Points to zero results in losing the game. In order to protect the Rift Points, the player uses a number of traps, which range from spikes on the ground to summoning special guardians. The storyline gradually reveals why the Rift Points are important, but as with most tower defense games, the storyline is secondary to well-constructed levels and cleverly designed gameplay.

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There are some pauses in battle to allow you to place more traps. Here I work at setting up a nasty little combo.

 

Orcs Must Die! 2 builds on the foundation of the original game, taking many of the traps from the original and expanding their abilities in addition to introducing new ones. In many respects Orcs Must Die! 2 is a more challenging game. In the original game, it was possible to play the Storyline from start to finish. On medium difficulty it was possible to win the game preserving most, if not all, of the Rift Points by using the new trap unlocks granted upon winning the last level.

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Here is my first level to break through the top 700 players of Orcs Must Die! 2. I’ve managed to do it on a couple more levels, too, and really enjoy seeing how well I can do globally.

 

In Orcs Must Die! 2 that isn’t always the case. Successfully completing a level in Storyline no longer automatically unlocks new traps and items (though it sometimes does). Instead the player typically has to play a couple rounds of Endless mode (where orcs endlessly stream at you until all the Rift Points are gone – there is no possibility to “win” only the opportunity to rack up Skulls, which are used as currency, to buy more traps and items. After accumulating a dozen or so Skulls, the player can then head to his spellbook and spend those skulls to unlock new items or upgrade existing ones. Upgrades can range from increasing damage to resetting a trap more quickly to lowering the cost of using it in the game (which is based upon mana).

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16 more Skulls to go on a spending spree!

 

In the game the player has two statistics: mana and health. If the player’s health is reduced to zero he “dies” but respawns. Death, however, costs several Rift Points. Successfully completing a level in Storyline will typically result in the award of a few Skulls, but the best way to accumulate Skulls is in Endless mode.

Fun With Traps

The overall mood of Orcs Must Die! 2 is light-hearted. Yes, you’re killing waves of orcs (and orcspawn such as ogres, trolls, flying creatures and the like, each presenting different challenges). The fun is in constructing nefarious ways to employ the traps at hand. Bonus points are awarded when multiple traps work together, such as a floor fan that pumps freezing cold air, temporarily encasing orcs in ice, and then a wall trap that shoots acid at them. Other traps are just irresistibly fun, such as a spring that flings orcs into the air. Some levels have lava or acid pits with which to receive said flung orcs, and if there is a shortcoming to this game it is that the pace is so frantic that I rarely have time to pause and enjoy watching an orc flung spinning into the abyss. Along the way the orcs quip clever lines, and sometimes whisper some teasers that can reveal a clue about the advancing storyline.

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Here they come! Muahahah! Another wave of orcs which will crash and die upon my layers and layers of traps.

 

The production value of Orcs Must Die! 2 is high. The music is well done, with a synthetic harpsichord franticly matching the pace of the advancing orcs during the action. The graphics are solid, artwork is suitably fun – the orcs are nasty looking but not darkly so, and match the light-hearted mood perfectly.

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Some of the weapons available for purchase with my hard-earned Skulls.

 

If there is one thing I had to complain about it is that the storyline cannot easily be advanced by itself. The Endless game mode is now a requirement to unlock and upgrade spells and items – at least on the medium difficulty level. The upside is that the replayability of Orcs Must Die! 2 is extremely high. Not only is it fun to see how high you can score, but friends on Steam who have the game are automatically tracked so you can compare how you scored against them on a particular level. Also listed is your global rank. With tens of thousands of gamers to compete against, I found it enormously satisfying to have broken into the top 700 on several levels. There is also a multiplayer game, but so far I haven’t had the chance to test it out.

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A few upgrades are purely cosmetic.

 

While there is more depth to the game than I have described, the overall gameplay is fairly simple: set traps and kill orcs. Not everyone is a fan of tower defense games (though I’m not sure why). Orcs Must Die! 2 is a delicious indulgence. Wargamers accustomed to devising and executing complex plans will find it light fare, indeed, but it is a guilty indulgence to which I happily turn for fun and relaxation. Yes, it can be stressful being overrun by orcish hordes but it is then with greater satisfaction that I turn to the Endless mode, buy a bunch of upgrades, and proceed to crush them. While there is a strategic aspect to maximizing the damage output by combining traps and upgrading them, it is primarily an action game set in a first-person perspective with a massive layer of tower defense. Orcs were made to die, and Orcs Must Die! 2 is the game to kill them with.

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Nasty, nasty orcs must die…and I have the traps to prove it.

Grumpy Grog Says: Double down on the mayhem. Grind, smush, burn, freeze, and slice orcs day and night in this game. It almost makes you feel sorry for them. Almost.

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