Orcs Must Die! 2 Review
Reviewed on PC
Well the name says it all really, this is the second installment in orcish genocide brought to us by Robot Entertainment; they must die and it’s down to you to make sure the orc slaying is as inventive and fun as possible. Orcs Must Die! 2 isn't really a game, it’s a playset of enormous proportions for dealing out death in as many ways as possible to our green skinned chums. In a title such as Orcs Must Die! 2 you are the centre of the action, there isn't any real plot to justify the orc killing (well not a very meaty one anyway) and there isn't a huge gimmick trying to tempt you in like ultra realistic orcish buttock physics. It’s a simple game in execution and you have one goal and that is to rid each and every level of as many orcs as possible. How you do that is maybe not so simple and has potential for huge amounts of orc blood to be spilled and as a result lots of fun to be had.
The execution and scope of Orcs Must Die! 2 is straightforward and to the point (just look at the title) but everyone knows some of the best things in life are simple. The game for those of you who are unversed in swathes of orc slaying is a third person tower defense-esque affair which will draw similes to horde mode in the Gears of War series due to the structured waves of enemies you will have to cut down to progress. You are armed as the War Mage - cheeky chappy with a strong chin and rather amusing wise cracks, or the Sorceress - sometimes stoic but partial to a little victory-dance when the orc slaying is over. As one of these heroes you are given the tools to rid the under world of the green vermin, through the form of rather nifty and sometimes cruel traps.
This is the central crux of Orcs Must Die! 2 placing traps to take down orcs before they escape the level is fantastic having been balanced and polished to fine sheen and always giving the player a fair chance at protecting the world from the orc invasion but never too easily.The number of traps is immense and bring in all the customisation options not only for the traps themselves but also the other weapons and trinkets you can adorn your protagonist with and you have the enormous playset sitting there waiting to be put into action.
The traps themselves deserve a paragraph of their very own as they are in some cases very satisfying and in others down right hilarious. Using your in level currency (earned by killing orcs on the fly) you can lavish the play space in traps such as the more subtle tar pits and brimstone traps slowing down your foes and burning them respectively. While the more expensive and fun traps can consist of huge swinging maces suspended from the ceiling to spring boards loaded to fling smaller foes across the level to their doom down a huge bottomless pit. You are constantly weighing up your options within a level to decide whether to spend your hard earned cash on the cheaper traps to cover more ground or save up for the bigger traps to place in choke points to do maximum damage when the horde is on the move.
The enemies are as varied as the traps and you will spend most of the campaign discovering new ones and secondly how to turn them into mince meat. The orcs range from small, medium to large and are usually more of a threat in numbers. More challenging foes such as trolls and ogres turn up, but may have specific weaknesses to help you take them down. In some levels you do have the flying enemies which can throw a huge spanner in the works if you are not prepared, fortunately you are sometimes given a helping hand by some handily placed archers who will help you with the airborne menace.
It’s not that simple as just going wild with the traps and sitting back to watch the carnage though as this playset has to be earned through, of course, orc killing. As you progress through the initial campaign you can unlock orc skulls which are a type of XP points for unlocking various traps, weapons and power ups for your Mage or Sorceress. These are earned from your rating after each level which ranges from one to five skulls or through random drops within a level, your rating is affected by your performance and takes on the re-playability aspect of Orcs Must Die! 2 as you will be coming back for more to get more skulls trust me.
The main campaign could be argued as a little short, but this (we would assume) is deliberate as you would probably grow bored of the campaign if it went on for fifty levels. Instead Robot Entertainment have given you superbly crafted arenas which weigh in at just over a baker’s dozen. Through this structure you are able to evolve not only your character but also your strategies as you can earn new traps, improve old ones and unlock new weapons which may give a bigger advantage in a certain level.
Orcs Must Die! 2 has two rather shiny jewels in its crown which make the game for us here at The Digital fix extra special. Firstly the endless mode is a fantastic way to spend your time, you can jump back into one of your favourite levels form the campaign, this is not the same old game as campaign however you have the usual waves of orcs to face but the variety of the enemies you face is increased dramatically early on and the difficulty curve within the level is much steeper. Secondly as with a lot of games in the past ten years co-op adds a whole new layer of greatness to Orcs Must Die! 2 as when it’s played with a buddy it opens up a lot more strategic options for you both. Each player potentially specialising in specific types of traps or covering different parts of the level or a combination of both. Throw that in with the huge amount of traps, customisation and endless mode and you should be a very happy orc slayer indeed.
Only available on PC currently (with no news of any other formats for release) Robot entertainment have designed Orcs Must Die! 2 with a cartoon vibe which is very fitting for the title but not over the top in the graphical department. The solid performance from the ageing reviewing rig was a boon for the title (Intel Q6600, 4gb Ram and Nvidia Gefore 560) and with a few bells and whistles turned off it would run very well on older rigs also. One other thing was that when playing coop there was no observed slow down of significance in endless mode so a big thumbs up to the network performance of Orcs Must Die! 2 as well.
While taking on a simple gameplay premise Robot Entertainment could have done the bare minimum of a few traps here a few power ups there and job done, let’s go to the pub - well, thank the heavens they didn't. Orcs Must Die! 2 manages to be massive in scope, varied and fun. Combining a short but satisfying campaign, expertly crafted levels, endless mode and co op Orcs Must Die! 2 is probably one the biggest grin inducing PC titles on the market today.