Orcs Must Die 2 |
Orcs Must Die 2 is a frantic and exhilarating rush of third person action mashed up with tower defense, and it satisfies on every level. The premise of the game is simple. Orcs pour out of gates trying to reach a rift, and your job is to stop them. You have a variety of tools at your disposal: Springboards that launch Orcs into lava, jets of acid that spray out of the walls, crushers on the ceilings, and any other number of dangerous traps. On top of that, youíre perfectly capable of fighting on foot and getting your hands dirty, so you have no end of orc-slaying tools.
Each round starts off with a setup period where you can run around the level and get a feel for how the Orcs might make their attack. During this period, you can open up a spellbook containing all of the traps (stationary traps that kill Orcs or help to kill Orcs), guardians (troops that stay on a spot and kill nearby Orcs), spells (blasts of elemental power that kill Orcs), or just plain weapons (which you use to, you guessed it, kill Orcs). Each level only allows for you to have a certain number of spellbook picks available, so make your choices carefully. Putting down traps or guardians costs you gold, which you get by killing Orcs. Once youíre ready, the Orcs swarm in, and your traps start killing them. Donít make the mistake of thinking you can just sit back and watch, though. You need to use your weapons and spells to kill the many Orcs thatíll make it through.
As you exterminate waves of Orcs, youíll face other enemies as well. Stronger Orcs, lightning-fast kobolds that run straight for the rift without trying to kill you, slow and beefy ogres thatíll take an enormous beating, and countless other threats trying to make it to the rift. Each enemy that makes it to the rift deducts rift points, and if you die, you lose some rift points and are immediately resurrected. Run out of rift points and you lose. You have a little breathing room between each wave to set up new traps, and thankfully, you can sell off anything youíve put down for its full value, so you have a lot of room to experiment with your killing techniques.
If youíve played the first game, you might be wondering whatís new here. After all, this sounds exactly like the first game so far. Well, thereís an awful lot thatís the same, but thereís a heavy amount of new stuff too. Obviously, the game has a whole new set of maps to defend from the green tide, and theyíre very well-made maps, but that goes without saying. The most obvious new change is that thereís a new playable character: the sorceress. She has access to a few traps that the other character, the war mage, doesnít, and lacks a few traps that he does, but her biggest defining feature is her wand, which can charm an enemy, causing them to fight on your side for a while. It can also be used to attack, firing either small bolts of magic rapidly or charging up for an explosive burst. Conversely, the war mage wields a hard-hitting shotgun with a slower rate of fire that can also launch grenades.
The game has a number of other updates as well. New traps, guardians, and spells have been added, such as acid-spraying wall traps and bomb-tossing dwarves. Thereís also a new category of item called the trinket. You pick them out from the spellbook like any of your other abilities, but they have dual uses. Just having a trinket imparts a passive bonus, and a trinket can be selected and activated for even more. For example, one trinket causes all of your traps to reset faster by having it, but if you activate it, every trap resets instantly.
The upgrade system has been vastly built upon in comparison to the first game. After you clear each level, you earn skulls which can be spent for upgrades. However, unlike the first game, you always get skulls after each successful rift defense, instead of just for improving on your previous score. Every single trap, guardian, spell, weapon, and trinket in the game can be upgraded by spending skulls. You can upgrade their level, which causes one aspect to be improved such as damage or cost, but each of these abilities also has a couple ďuniqueĒ upgrades. These uniques add an additional feature, such as causing enemies to be slowed when hit or upgrading the range on a trap, but only one unique per ability can be chosen at a time. Thankfully, once you buy a unique on an ability, you can change its unique for free, allowing you to experiment and see what you prefer more, or change it up depending on the level youíre challenging.
If youíre in need of skulls, the game also has a load of levels and modes for you to play. In addition to the gameís story mode, thereís also a classic mode for owners of the original game, where you can play through a few select levels with your fancy new traps and upgrades. Thereís also an endless mode, where you take on endless waves of monsters until you finally run out of rift points, which is a way to earn loads and loads of skulls. Every Friday, they also upload a themed weekly challenge map that forces you to use a specific set of traps, creating new and unique challenges for the game.
Every single mode in the game can be played online with a friend in co-op, a new feature to the game that I really enjoy. You can play with a friend, both of you get skulls, and itís just a really good time. You have fewer spell slots available to each player, but if one player is the war mage and the other is the sorceress, you can have traps working together that youíd never see otherwise. I mainly played the sorceress, but she doesnít have access to tar traps. My co-op partner played as the war mage, who did. With the tar traps, we could seriously slow down the waves of enemies, while we used a mix of war mage-exclusive arrow walls and sorceress-exclusive acid sprayers to stack both acid burns and flaming arrow burns on enemies as they tried to march through for loads of damage over time.
The graphics and sound in the game are just as good as they were in the last one. Every weapon feels appropriately powerful, and Orcs have hilarious quotes as they charge forth and die by the dozen. The soundtrack is limited, but the few tracks that it does have are engaging and contribute greatly to the gameís frantic pace. The war mage and sorceress also have a variety of callouts for notable events, and the quotes really help to bring the gameís comedy to life.
The graphics arenít anything special if youíre looking for huge amounts of detail or mind-blowing special effects, but the art direction is fantastic. Itís hard to make a game in a fantasy setting look unique, but Orcs Must Die carries it perfectly. Every enemy looks both dangerous and a little goofy. The war mage looks like an overconfident idiot, but also capable of backing up whatever he tries to do. Everything looks stylized in a way that emphasizes what itís capable of, carries its personality, and frankly, looks good.
Orcs Must Die 2 is a great game. If you have the original, itís a must-have, and if you donít have the original, itís also a must-have, except you should also go buy the original so you can have the full spread of maps available. For $15, this game is a steal, especially for the hours and hours of gameplay it offers.