Game title: Orcs Must Die! 2
Publisher: Robot Entertainment
Developer: Robot Entertainment
Release date: 30-Jul-2012
Genre: Action, Strategy, Indie
A sequel to a PC indie title that became quite popular last year and winner the 2011 AIAS (Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences ) Strategy game of the year, Orcs must Die! has been released, Orcs Must Die! 2. Created by Robot Entertainment, Orcs Must Die! 2, like it’s predecessor, is a tower defence style game. But instead of making you place turrets and defences while you hover overhead, removed from the action, Orcs Must Die! 2 puts you right in the thick of the action.
With the obvious enemies being Orcs, coming in all shapes and sizes, you battle to defend “rifts”, magical gateways between the human world and the “Dead World”, from literally hundreds of enemies that come at you in waves.
The story begins a few days after the end of the first game. The Sorceress, the main antagonist of the first game, is being hunted down by the Orcs she once ruled over. She steps through a rift to find herself face to face with her old enemy, the protagonist, only known as the War Mage (formally known as the Apprentice), who now works in a mine. They team up to close the rifts and keep the Orcs out of the human world.
The single player campaign starts with a short cut-scene giving the basic outline of the story and launches the player straight in to preparing for the first wave of Orcs. The controls are almost identical to the original, but it is a very well thought-out control scheme, and easy to pick up and play on your first go, without a major tutorial. You start with some basic traps and a single
weapon, with a primary and secondary attack. As you complete levels, depending on the
difficulty you set at the beginning, you earn skulls which can be used to buy and upgrade traps and weapons, with even more than the first game. I have noticed that the War Mages default weapon, a Blunderbuss, seems to feel a bit inaccurate at times, not sure if this was intentional to balance the weapon or if it’s a glitch. There are some other weapons the player’s character can use, which are dependent on whether you use the War Mage or the Sorceress. The Sorceress tends to be more ranged, and the War Mage can be either ranged or melee.
The level design is very well done. There are either one or two rifts that the Orcs can come though (I haven’t come across more than two in a single level), and lights flowing through the air show you the route the Orcs will take to get to your rift. In some levels there will be portals to help you move across the map quickly, or mine carts, that if they hit enemies can hurt them and knock them back. You can even control the direction of the mine carts using a signal along the tracks to change direction of the mine carts.
Although from what I have seen, most of the levels seem to take place in the dark mine that the War Mage works in, so the environments can seem to get a bit samey at times. The design
of the levels allows for the placement of a lot of traps, ranging from wall-mounted arrow traps, to tar-pits on the floor, to crossbow turrets that hang from the ceiling. The game allows you to place a lot of traps in a small area, letting the player bombard the enemy from multiple sides all at once. Other than the single player campaign, there is also “endless” mode, which throws wave after wave of enemies with no end, this is unlocked after playing through the first few levels of the single player campaign. There is also a co-operative multiplayer that you can play with a friend that has it’s own campaign separate from the single player campaign, however there is no competitive multiplayer.
The graphics are cartoon-styled and very good, without being a huge drain on the graphics card. There can be quite a bit of gore in the game, but this can be toggled off for the more squeamish player.
The animations are also very good, very smooth and they’ve taken the time to animate even small details about the characters. Having said this, the walks of the Orcs can look a little strange, especially the Orc Archers, who are tall, and lanky, and stand with an almost impossibly straight back, and the other Orcs, seem to just drudge along until they get close and start a clumsy run towards you, disregarding any obstacles, traps or objectives.
One of the flaws I did find with the game is the fact that Orcs Must Die! 2 seems to use the exact same soundtrack as the original. The original’s soundtrack is very good, calming in between waves while you’re setting up traps and getting ready, and changes to a very rocky theme when the Orcs start coming through the rifts with heavy electric guitar riffs. On top of this, the sound effects are top-notch, the weapon and trap sounds are very good, slightly cartoony but not too over the top, even the sound when Orcs explode there is a cartoon gore sound, but not too much to cheapen the sound.
There isn’t much voice acting other than the War Mage and the Sorceress, and the odd line from an Orc, but what there is, is very good. The writing doesn’t take itself too seriously, with witty comments and one-liners from the characters. Although if you listen, you can very quickly hear lines repeated several times over the course of a single level, which can get quite boring sometimes.
Orcs Must Die! 2 is an excellent game, takes what made the original good and expanded on it. While some of the maps can look similar, they do look beautiful and are obviously well designed.
The weapons and traps are always fun to use, there’s nothing like seeing an Orc fly across the map and in to a chasm. It sucks you in to a large battle filled with different enemies, and keeps you on your toes by the sheer amount of enemies and the size of some of them. There is no way to sit back and watch your traps do all the work in this game, you're going to have to get your hands dirty.
The developers made good use of the Havok engine which the game runs on, and the very few bad things about this game are nothing that couldn’t be fixed with a patch or two.
The developers did a great job taking this award winning game and turning it in to another critically acclaimed hit, and I would personally give this game a 8 out of 10 rating. A very good and enjoyable game that will make you think twice about the tower defence genre and will have you laughing at the character’s remarks about the Orcs.