In my opinion, Orcs Must Die! was a flawless game. Everything they set out to do, they did excellently. Fun, original, challenging, funny. Which is just what makes it such a difficult act to follow. Needless to say, my expectations for this game were very high, and yet Orcs Must Die! 2 actually manages to improve on the original. The same 3rd person rift defending action makes its return, but this time with new traps, items, weapons, levels and game modes to play with.
Orcs Must Die! 2 is a tower defense game, where players must prevent monsters from reaching the portal. Monsters seem to love portals. The multitude of tools available with which to accomplish this goal allows for a surprising degree of creativity and customization of playstyle. I prefer to use traps to take care of most of the orc killing, but it’s also possible to dispatch the orcs personally, using the game’s many weapons and items. This hybridization of standard defense placement gameplay and action means that there’s always something for the player to be doing. It’s a nice change of pace from many other tower defense games, where you simply watch the enemies throw themselves upon your arrows/bullets/lasers/swords over and over until you get the chance to build again. Even if you have built the ultimate defense, you can still take potshots into the orc mob to build up your combo modifiers.
The sequel also adds a second character, who veterans of the first game will no doubt remember. (It’s not hard, the first game only had 3 characters in it.) Each characters gets a few signature traps and a weapon. I found that the abilities of these weapons to be especially game-changing, and lots of fun. This works well for multiplayer, though the option to both be the same character is there. Connecting to your friend’s games is easy via the Steam interface, and the game includes both voice and text options to harass your friends with.
The last warmage returns with his cheerfully moronic and macabre sense of humour to defend against the orcish onslaught. As in the first, story development takes a back seat to the action in each level, typically with a little bit being delivered via cutscene or character dialogue as the level starts. While the world of Orcs Must Die! may not be the most original setting, it is beautifully realized and fleshed out. Its similarity to Azeroth, both in style and substance, is less a drawback and more a familiar setting for millions of players. (I’d call it an homage, really.) The chunky cartoonish style also softens the blow of all the terrible, terrible things you do to those orcs. Their goofy cries of despair will haunt you forever. And probably make you chuckle.
Completing a level isn’t overly difficult, but managing to get 5/5 skulls can be quite difficult. Should that prove too easy, there are global leader boards for each level based on score to try to top. Also included are all the levels from the original game and an endless mode, where you are assailed by infinite waves of foes. (Or, so I assume from the name, I only got as far as wave 25.) Content galore, items to collect and upgrade, and myriad goals to work towards on a variety of levels.
I did encounter some stability problems. The game would often crash in the menus and level load screens, but fortunately not during levels, so I never lost any progress. Occasionally orcs would get stuck on walls after getting bounced around by traps and would stop moving through the level, but they were easily found and dispatched. Very minor annoyances in an otherwise superbly crafted game.
Amazingly, Orcs Must Die! 2 not only matches the success of the original, but expands upon it. The quality, content, and sheer fun of the game exceeds many AAA titles, and at a fraction of the price. Pick it up on Steam for $15, or check out the demo if you’re still unsure about this game for some crazy reason.