Orcs Must Die! 2 [Review]
August 3, 2012
The orcs must die! Again! And who better to do it than the daft apprentice that did it the first time. This time around, however, he won’t be alone. The game begins shortly after the conclusion of Orcs Must Die!, starting with a horde of orcs going after the Sorceress who had them under mind control in the previous title. With a little luck (or maybe help?) she is able to escape through a rift, but the first person she sees is her nemesis from the first game… The War Mage. Instead of battling it out, they join forces to defeat the re-emergent orc threat.
Two of the most notable changes are the scenery and level layout. Instead of defending only fortresses, you will be able to kill orcs in mining areas as well. Besides a change of scenery, new environmental traps are brought into the mix. Almost every mine has a rail system with a cart that passes through at a certain frequency. This cart is a great way to take out additional orcs, and the best thing about it is that you can determine which track it rides on, in case you need additional help in a certain lane. You’ll also find carts filled with lava that you can usually knock over to help kill orcs. In addition to that there are also bombs, boulder traps, and other items you can trigger to help you deal with the orc menace.
In Orcs Must Die! I felt that the fortresses gave the advantage to the player; funneling orcs through a few lanes that were easily turned into death tunnels for orcs with the addition of a few traps. In Orcs Must Die! 2 I definitely feel that the advantage is given to the orcs. Before you get to the middle of the campaign, levels will throw an unbelievable amount of orcs at you wave after wave. In OMD2, levels are more open; giving orcs a chance to spread out, and making it more difficult to place traps in bottlenecks.
Laying down traps to cover entire paths will get very expensive, very fast, and you’ll be lucky if you can do it by the time you reach the last wave of enemies for that level. If you attempt to blanket entire pathways with traps, you’ll probably end up having one orc trigger, kill a few, and then a metric shit ton more will skip right over the deactivated traps. Players will need to place traps strategically, and then try to push or guide orcs into those traps; making sure they place traps in such a way that will catch orcs that made it past deactivated traps. OMD had multiple entrances for orcs, but in OMD2 these entrances are sometimes quite the distance from each other, and their paths sometimes never intersect; making it more of a challenge to manage the horde.
The change in level layout shows that OMD2 was made for co-op. Completing the game solo is 100% possible, but also incredibly difficult to do; not to mention attempting to get a high skull rating. Having a partner helps to manage the orc spread, but teamwork is a must. Money for each level is split in half during co-op, so both players still need to make sure they are placing traps that complement each other, and avoid redundant traps or effects.
Having a partner doesn’t mean you have an advantage though. While playing co-op there will be more orcs, and those orcs will be bigger and stronger. My first time playing co-op was on a level I had already completed solo; so while I was expecting a few grunts to run out of the rift, I was surprised when a mage hunter popped out. The change in orcs will likely cause you to change your strategy regarding trap placement for co-op play.
The horde itself has grown a bit. You will notice some new additions that will cause you some grief. New enemies like the elementals that break down into smaller enemies after you’ve blasted them enough, or enemies that specifically hunt down war mages (that’s you) can make a bad situation worse, or sometimes even turn the tables. Special enemies like those or larger enemies like ogres or trolls will drop coins that give you a bit more back for your effort.
There has been the addition of a few new traps, but nothing game changing. For the most part I found the older traps to a more efficient method of killing orcs. The upgrade system has been improved, giving players more options and customization. Each trap has one upgrade that has three levels to it. These levels typically enhance damage or efficiency. There are also two unique upgrades available that alter the functionality a bit. For example, one unique for the wall arrows sets enemies on fire, while the other slows them down. You can only choose one of the uniques at a time. Finally, some traps (such as wall arrows) have an additional upgrade that will allow you to place them on the ceiling; giving you more room to place other traps on walls.
In order to upgrade traps you will need skulls, which are obtained by how well you do in each level. You can get up to five skulls depending on how many orcs get through the rift (if any), and how much time it takes to complete the level. You get additional skulls based on different achievements you get in each level. Besides upgrading traps, you can also purchase new traps, new weapons, upgrades to those weapons, and even some new threads.
Some traps and weapons are limited to a certain character. While the War Mage has wall arrows and tar available as traps, the Sorceress is given the acid sprayer and ice vents in their place. The weapons are what really separate the two characters, as each weapon has its own advantages. If you like crowd control, you will enjoy the War Mage’s Blunderbuss since it allows you to knock back multiple enemies with its primary attack and blow enemies apart with its secondary.
The Sorceress primary weapon is a magic scepter that can mind control orcs, causing them to attack and distract the horde. The best part about the charm attack is that when the charmed orc is killed, it explodes; stunning the surrounding orcs, giving you a chance to charge your scepter for an energy attack. Some weapons cross over between both characters, but at best I used them as secondaries to the great starting weapons provided.
Buying and upgrading weapons can get a bit pricey, and just relying on the campaign may not be enough to get new weapons at a decent pace. Enter: Endless mode. In Endless mode you will fight wave after wave of orcs. Depending on how many waves you defeat, you will get a certain amount of skulls. Once again, you will get skulls for milestones you achieve, like killing a certain amount of orcs. Endless mode is a good way to bulk up your arsenal, but I would definitely recommend doing it co-op. The orcs will be different than they were in the campaign, and before the 10th wave you should be seeing some heavy duty orcs.
For the most part Orcs Must Die 2 is bug free, but I did notice at least two big problems. First, there were times where orcs clearly triggered a trap, and then walked through it with no damage at all. Second, while using the Blunderbuss on three different levels, it disappeared out of my hands. When I shot it still made the noise, but no damage was being done. For obvious reasons bugs like these cause huge issues in game play.
Besides those problems, I had an awesome time playing Orcs Must Die! 2. The game has a ton of replayability whether you do it solo or with a partner. With DLC support I can see players having fun with this for a very long time. I highly recommend picking it up.
Out Of 5
Orcs Must Die! 2
Visuals didn’t change much from the original Orcs Must Die!, but they really didn’t need to. The visuals are cartoonish, at a smooth frame rate, and add to the fun of the game.
Sound effects fit the traps and audibly display the power of your weapons. The dialog is funny, and the music is well done.
The control scheme is simple, but efficient. Placing traps while actively fighting off the horde makes you feel like a true War Mage.
The gameplay is near flawless and I think it definitely pushes active tower defense games forward. The changes made to the level layout creates a new game play dynamic that causes players to really strategize if they want to be efficient. Of course, if you really want too, you can try to plow through all the orcs with your weapons. Not as efficient, but just as fun.
HAD. A. BLAST. Literally and figuratively.