Orcs Must Die! 2 review

Written by Julian Schoffel on . Posted in Action

Orcs Must Die! 2 game image

Orcs Must Die! is one of my favourite PC games of recent years so I was dead keen to see what sort of tweaks and refinements Robot Entertainment could shoehorn into the sequel.

A quick rundown on Orcs Must Die! 2 for the uninitiated

If you haven’t yet played an Orcs Must Die! game then you’re doing yourself a grave disservice. To clue you in on what this fantastic series is all about here’s a quick rundown.

Part tower defence, part third-person shooter, part strategy game; Orcs Must Die! 2 casts players in the role of humanity’s saviour. The basic goal is to create impassable gauntlets of death which stop your marauding enemies (Orcs, Ogres, Kobold Runners and worse) getting from point A to point B. In this instance point B are the gateways between worlds known as Rifts. To get the job done you have a variety of traps (i.e. spikes, blades, swinging maces, fire, harpoons etc.), weapons, spells and guardians at your disposal.

Gameplay is fast, fluid and extremely fun. Creatures emerge in waves from set points on a level. Before the start of each wave you have varying windows of time (unlimited in Apprentice mode, very short in Nightmare mode) to place your traps, guardians and barricades.

Once the action starts you spend the majority of your time moving around the level, mowing down foes with your weapon of choice, casting spells and placing traps. Killing foes yields a monetary reward which can then be used to further beef up your trap arsenal.

Orcs Must Die! 2 image gallery

What’s new in Orcs Must Die! 2?

The first thing I noticed about Orcs Must Die! 2 was the slightly improved graphics engine. While the game has essentially the same look as its predecessor, Orcs Must Die! 2 is a little sharper and crisper. The game also includes a fresh set of simple but appealing cel-shaded cut-scenes to flesh out the new storyline.

Another notable inclusion in Orcs Must Die! 2 is the new co-op mode which allows players to tackle levels with a friend by their side. This is certainly a fun addition but in my view it has a tendency to detract from the game’s overall challenge. Orcs Must Die! purists (smug dorks like me who like to post a big score on the level leaderboards) will probably still prefer to play the game solo.

Orcs Must Die! 2 also introduces a new playable character in the form of the Sorceress. With her unique spells, trap types (i.e. Ice Trap, Acid Sprayer) and ability to charm creatures from afar the Sorceress demands a markedly different play style to that of War Mage from the original game. On a personal note I found her lack of an effective slowing trap (like the War Mage’s Tar Trap) to be a major hindrance (and no I don’t think the Ice Trap is an adequate substitute). However I’m sure enterprising players will find a way around this.

Revamped Spellbook and upgrade system

As players progress through the game’s 15 levels they earn Skulls. These Skulls can then be used as currency to buy access to new trap types and weapons or to upgrade the player’s existing arsenal.

Orcs Must Die! 2 discards the convoluted skill upgrade system of the first game and replaces it with Trinkets. Trinkets are also purchasable using Skulls and provide core bonuses to player stats, improve the efficacy of traps and spells, along with providing some unique abilities (i.e. global trap reset, recharging mana etc.).

Players can get a full Skull refund at any time with no penalties, allowing them to reset their character and play style to suit a particular level.

All in all I found the revamped upgrade system to work pretty well and I think it’s a definite improvement on that of the original game.

And that’s not all…

Orcs Must Die! 2 features 15 new levels and with their multiple Rift points and daunting size, many of them are definitely geared towards co-operative play. That’s not to say they are impossible to solo, they just require a little foresight and some canny trap placements (especially if you want to 5 Skull them in Nightmare mode). If you find yourself stuck on a particular level I highly recommend you do a search on Youtube – there are a ton of great 5 Skull play-through videos for pretty much every level of both games in the Orcs Must Die! series.

Orcs Must Die! 2 also squeezes in some new playing modes which include Endless Mode (where you face off against never ending waves of enemies) and, for owners of the first Orcs Must Die!, Classic Mode which provides co-op versions of 10 of the best levels from the original game.

Know thine enemy

To cap it all off Robot Entertainment have also included some fiendish new enemies which include the Troll (big and green with health regeneration and poison immunity), the Earth Elemental (splits into smaller versions of itself as it loses health) and Bile Bats (a flyer unit which vomits acid and explodes when you kill it).

Review Summary
Score: 92%
Info: For me the original Orcs Must Die! came out of nowhere and I actually stumbled across it on Steam late last year (2011). Naturally I was delighted to discover one of the most compelling and addictive action/strategy offerings I’ve ever played. Orcs Must Die! 2 refines and improves this winning formula even further.
The Good: The sense of satisfaction derived from watching your cunningly planned sequence of traps squish, spike and flambé hundreds of unsuspecting orcs cannot be overstated.
The Bad: Frustratingly Crossbow headshots still aren’t that precise. The War Mage and Sorceress’s repetitive one liners can start to grate on you after a while.

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Julian Schoffel

From 1994 to 2007 Julian was a contributing editor for Australian PC User Magazine. He has also written for numerous publications which include Australian Personal Computer, PC PowerPlay, Hyper, Ralph, Megazone, The Disc, PlayNow, TechLife, The Sydney Morning Herald and IGN.

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