One of the most surprisingly fun indie titles I played through in the last year was Robot Entertainment's Orcs Must Die! It certainly wasn't fun for orcs, since they were often at the receiving end of wall arrows, floor spikes, and shotgun blasts to the face, but I had a great time with this tower defense fantasy title. Less than 12 months after introducing me to multiple ways to maim green-skinned monstrosities, Robot returns with a sequel. Not much changes in Orcs Must Die 2, which proves to be a good thing.
The story in Orcs Must Die! 2 takes place mere days after the events of the first game. Simply put, it looks like there are still orcs around, therefore they must die. The War Mage is still on the front lines of battle, contrasting with the game's fantasy setting as much as ever, with his "dude-bro" demeanor. Most of the War Mage's dialogue is still pure cheese, but his demeanor makes sense, given that this game starts to feel like an 80's action flick at times.
Just as in the last game, Orcs Must Die! 2 sees orcs and their monstrous brethren breaking into the area and attempting to breach a glowing rift at the other end of the map. The idea is to stop them using direct means and by using traps. As much fun as it is to resort to shotguns and elemental magic, the game truly shines with its selection of traps that make it feel like a deadly medieval slapstick.
One new addition to OMD2 is the character of the Sorceress, a former war mage, who offers a distinctive style of her own. Rather than use brute force, like the War Mage, the Sorceress focuses more on long-ranged magical attacks. Her starter traps also veer on the magical side, freezing enemies and covering them with skin-melting acid. As the game progresses, players can set up their defenses to suit their own unique style, regardless of their character choice.
Traps are simple to place and experimenting with them is a major part of the Orcs Must Die! experience. The Story mode allows players to experiment with trap placement for as long as they want in-between phases. This gives players a chance to explore their terrain, surmise the path that the orcs will travel, and set up traps accordingly. What's the best way to take out a large troll? Floor spikes? Wall arrows? How about a springing platform that hilariously sends them towards a cartoonish doom? All of the traps have their pros and cons and, before long, most players will have their standbys that they'll resort to throughout each level.
After players decide on their weapons and traps, they can upgrade them between levels. The upgrades can vary from damage dealt, to item cost, or status effect. The longer I went through the game, the more I realized that these upgrades weren't so much for the Story, though they're plenty useful there. They're meant more for the game's Endless mode, which sends wave after wave of enemies your way until you lose. As much as I enjoyed going straight for the Endless mode upon starting my game, the game proved to be more fun when I earned new ways to dispose of my orc antagonists. Orc-killing becomes particularly easier after unlocking guardians, like bomb-lobbing dwarves and arrow-flinging archers, to lend a helping hand.
While Orcs Must Die! 2 has sounded like more of the same OMD experience, this game comes with one key new feature -- co-op. Players can easily run through OMD2 solo, but many of the later levels feel like they're geared towards co-op play. Early levels will have orcs coming through one or two entrances at a time, but as the campaign moves forward, they'll start to emerge from up to four different spawn points. This definitely calls for backup and cooperatively clobbering orcs is a lot more fun when there's a friend to help set up traps and take an unguarded spawn point.
Orcs Must Die! 2 definitely feels more like Orcs Must Die! 1.5. However, given how much fun I had with the first Orcs Must Die, I can't complain about this. Anyone that missed out on the orc-killing fun the first time will be in for a treat. Those that do own the first game will unlock the first game's campaign levels for free, with all of the sequel's new features. There's plenty to keep players satisfied here, especially with the large number of Endless maps available. Grab a friend, because the gleeful killing of orcs is an experience that's meant to be shared.
This Orcs Must Die! 2 review was based on a digital PC version of the game provided by the developer.