Saturday, August 4, 2012

Orcs Must Die! 2 video review

Entering the overflowing tower defense genre, last year's Orcs Must Die! was a breath of fresh air. Fast forward nine-months later and Robot Entertainment has improved its Orc murder-simulator tenfold. Adding a host of new traps, weapons and the much sought after co-op mode, Orcs Must Die! 2 is a perfect representation of how a different take on a familiar genre can reinvigorate even the most worn out trends. More importantly, from start to finish it's just a damn good time.

Orcs Must Die! 2 video review


In case you aren't familiar with OMD!, take a typical tower defense game, replace towers with traps, random monsters with lots of Orcs and a top down perspective for a fully-controllable character. It certainly seems quirky on paper, but in execution OMD! is a remarkable experience that'll have you coming back to it again and again. If not for its surprising variety than for no better reason than to see Orcs slaughtered by the thousands.

Rather light on story, OMD!2 follows the adventures of the War Mage after the events of the first title. Beyond setting a reason for the Orcs to invade once again, the narrative does what it needs to do and nothing more. It still keeps its light-hearted and whimsical style from its predecessor and the War Mage's remarks are as ridiculous as ever.

The Coinforge is pretty handy and can make certain levels much easier.

Joining the War Mage in his ceaseless quest to obliterate hordes of Orcs is the Sorceress. Being the antagonist from the first game, both characters are fully playable and present a few unique options to the players. That's right, I said "players." The one knock against OMD! was its lack of co-operative play, and OMD!2 fully embraces online functionality for the first time. Spoilers: it's awesome.

Besides a few exclusive traps, skins and a weapon, both characters play identically. Some of the stages are pretty huge and are best tackled with a friend, but that's not to say that they can't be completed alone, because they certainly can. Unfortunately there's no matchmaking system in place so you'll either have to make your way to the forums or convince a buddy to pick the game up. Once you're connected though, the entire campaign is playable in co-op. Throw in the new Endless mode and you can be easily lost in OMD!2 for hours.

Line 'em up and put 'em down.

Speaking of new things, the skull system from the first game is very much present in OMD!2 but with some much needed changes. Upon completing or five-skulling a level, there was little reason to replay a level again, but OMD!2 has completely changed that mentality. Robot wants you to play levels multiple times, finish them differently, achieve higher scores and play on higher difficulty settings. To represent this, you'll net skulls for playing admirably and achieving specific goals for each stage. For instance, not letting any orcs get to the rift, not taking any damage, achieving kill milestones, all of these circumstances and more grant you extra skulls on top of the standard five skull setup per level.

Of course, it would probably help if you knew what the skulls were for. Just like before, you can upgrade your traps to become more effective in various situations and each upgrade requires skulls. Whatever it is you upgrade, each item comes with several different augmentations that really shake things up. Take for instance, everybody's favorite, the Arrow Wall. While building its basic damage up, you also have the option to choose whether it fires fire or ice arrows, not both. You also can upgrade it to become place-able on ceilings, which is totally handy and awesome. Now imagine every trap having options like this and that also includes weapons and the all new trinkets. Pretty exciting, right?

Staring death right in the face? Do what I did and freeze it.

Trinkets are a cool new edition to OMD!2 as well. Providing players with passive and active bonuses, trinkets allow for some excellent combinations when used correctly. The new Boulder Chute ceiling trap has quite the cooldown, but with the Trap Reset Trinket its passively faster to ready itself and, if you're in a real pickle, you can activate it and instantly have the Boulder Chute ready to fire again. Other trinkets allow for coins to drop from all enemies, increase mana and there's some that can heal and break you and your friend out of a pesky stun. Overall, trinkets are a great addition to the game.

OMD!2 wouldn't be half the game it is without some imaginative and awesome traps to set for those ceaseless Orcs. Thankfully, Robot has included every trap from the original game as well as a plethora of brand new death-dealing objects. I already talked about the Boulder Chute, but the Void Wall is pretty cool too. Anything thrown into the wall is instantly killed, allowing for some pretty neat setups to make it happen. You can also upgrade the thing to have a chance at spawning skeletons of what you killed to come back and fight for you.

For $15, it's hardly a question to ask if OMD!2 is worth it, because it unquestionably is. With excellent co-op play, incredible replayability and a ton of variety at your fingertips, OMD!2's quality cannot be denied. Go give this one a try, you won't regret it.

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