Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Kill Them All...Again! Orcs Must Die! 2 Review

Rock's been eagerly awaiting the release of Orcs Must Die! 2 ever since he first laid hands on it at PAX East. Was it worth the wait? Does it live up to expectations? Read on to find out!

Well, it's been a little less than a year since the Original Orcs Must Die! was released. While I greatly enjoyed the original game, I had a few minor gripes. I was predictably excited to play a demo of the sequel at this year's PAX East, and I came away very happy with what I'd seen. My first impressions can be found here.


Fast forward to now and what do we have? Well, we've got our old buddy the Battlemage, still ready to boldly kick some orc ass. He's just as lovably cocky as he was in the first game, and his flippant demeanor and cheeky one liners  are actually pretty funny. He's definitely at his best when he's bantering with the game's new character, the Sorceress. Formerly the evil leader of the orcs, the Sorceress plays a bit differently from the Battlemage. She has access to some different traps, like ice vents and acid sprayers, but her coolest ability by far isn't a trap at all: she has the ability to dominate the orcs one at a time, making them fight for her! This tactic is insanely cool and it really helps jam up the orcs' progression, especially since dominated orcs stun those around them when they're killed. The addition of the Sorceress also allows for co-op play, which seems like an absolute blast! I say "seems" because as of this writing I haven't had a chance to play anything in co-op. There is also a new Endless mode, which has you and a buddy facing off against endless (duh!) waves of enemies.

Using traps to fling orcs to their deaths is always giggle-inducing.

One of the interesting changes made in this sequel is the way that traps are unlocked. You are awarded with a new trap at the end of almost every stage, very much like in the first game. However, you can also open up your spell book in between levels and use skulls to buy other traps that you wouldn't normally get. Another great new addition is the ability to upgrade your traps. In between stages, you can spend your skulls on a handful of upgrades for each trap. These run the gamut from making the do more damage, shortening their reset time,, decreasing their cost, or some unique abilities like setting enemies on fire or making them bleed out. This new system is just incredible and it really gave me a feeling of progression and control.

The Sorceress adds some pretty unique abilities, like Dominate, to the mix.

One thing that is missing from this game is the Weaver system. Notice how I said "missing" and not "missed".  Anyone who read my review of the first game will know that I despised the Weaver system. The Weavers force you to choose to enhance only  traps or only magic. Even worse, you were buying said enhancements with the same gold that you spend on traps. The system was such a huge pain in the ass that I almost never used it.  Apparently nobody else did either, because Robot Entertainment smartly cut the feature entirely from Orcs Must Die! 2. Hooray! I'm not normally one to praise a game for its subtractions but seriously, the Weavers sucked out loud.

God you guys are so fucked!

So what do we have here? More incredibly satisfying orc-slaying! If you enjoyed the first game, chances are you'll enjoy the sequel as well. The fantastic mix of tower defense and third person action is back, and it's plenty of fun. There are a few new traps here, but you'll mostly be seeing the same spike floor traps and wall blade that you used in the first game. The same cartoony art style is back, and it still works well, showing off all the glorious orc dismemberment you can handle. The team at Robot seem to have really gone all out designing the new levels, really giving me a challenge and forcing me to think in new ways. I will say that using the exact same art style and many of the same traps from the first game did lead to a bit of fatigue about three quarters of the way through the story, which will take you about 6 hours. You can also play Classic Mode, which lets you revisit some of the more interesting maps from the original game, trying out some of the new traps and abilities. This is a pretty welcome addition that has the added bonus of letting you earn skulls to use in story mode. I probably wouldn't have played it much otherwise...

Orcs Must Die! 2 improves on the first game in almost every way.  Things can feel a bit same-y toward the end, but this game is still a ton of fun, and well worth the asking price of $15.

Verdict: 4/5

Rock is overjoyed to see no more Weavers! Yay!

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