Finding the right balance of challenge and enjoyment is key when developing a game. Sure, when you’re a child you can spend hour after hour after hour on the same level of Earthworm Jim, but as soon as exams, a job, or heaven forbid, a social life start to get in the way, the few precious hours you get alone with a game have to be engaging and fun, but also progressive. Orcs Must Die! 2 fits this bill perfectly.
Having only a limited time to play a game and playing the same segment over and over again will wind up being too infuriating, and after a while, players will simply give up and just stop playing. Portal is the perfect example of this. Challenging though some levels are, they are perfectly achievable if you spend enough time on them without resorting to simple trial and error tactics.
While its apparent that OMD2 was made for co-op, playing it on your own makes it all the more challenging, and thus all the more rewarding. OMD2 is a hoard game, in which you must protect a rift from the onslaught of orcs that want to kill using a variety of traps and weapons. You have an orc count at the top of the screen, and for every orc that passes through your rift, you lose a point (sometimes more for larger enemies, or if you lose all your health and die). Once that number hits zero, its game over.
What makes the game challenging to play on your own, is that most levels have more than one door that the orcs can enter. Simply spamming one with spike pits, arrow launchers and guardians (AI allies that deal damage to enemies. Expensive and have a limit, but very helpful) while I stood guard at the other wasn’t enough, as there would always be stragglers, no matter how many traps I laid down. This meant that I was constantly to-ing and fro-ing from one door to the other, while laying enough traps on either stretching my resources to breaking point.
At first I found this really annoying, as my OCD couldn’t handle the uneven spread of action and traps, but as soon as I got the hang of it, I felt like a God, smiting down the unworthy orcs who dared cross my sword while spending points accumulate quickly dishing out cash for ever fallen orc.
If you get stuck in the story mode, endless and classic modes allow you to collect more skulls, which are used to purchase and upgrade traps and weapons. Endless does what it says on the tin, and classic is the original campaign from the first Orcs Must Die.
The controls are simple enough to master, yet combat balances well with trap-placement to make sure you don’t rely on one more than the other. Left click for main attacks and to place traps, and right click is your secondary attack. These drain mana and their affects range from area damage, to pushing enemies back. Environmental traps also aid you in certain levels, scolding, crushing and running over stray orcs.
What’s great about OMD2 is you’ll have to develop your own strategy to take on the orcs that will differ greatly from others when you play co-op. Whether you decide to slow enemies down and deal heavy damage to them, have the damage spread across the map while you pick them off from afar, or just hoard a bunch of traps next to the doors, each tactic has is strengths and weaknesses depending on which traps you use and what you do with them. Its a great way to keep the game fresh and interesting after the slightly too-short story, mixing things up on the endless mode and seeing which tactic gets you furthest.
The graphics of OMD2 are are cartoonish and vibrant to tone down the bloody violence and carnage that is hacking orcs to pieces. The sounds of their gooey bodies squishing on your spike pits is satisfying to say the least, and the in-game voicing does a great job of telling you where you need to be.
Is It Worth Your Money?
Orcs Must Die 2 is a horrendously simple game, yet its simplicity is one of its greatest assets. Its so easy to jump into a game by yourself or with a friend when there’s nothing else to do. OMD2 for me is the answer to both the questions “What are you currently playing?” and “I’m bored, what do you wanna do?” It’s fresh, vibrant gameplay makes it more than worth the $14 asking price. Sure, after maybe a month you’ll get bored of it, but I guarantee a month after that you’ll be picking it back up again.
Orcs Must Die 2 Technical Summary:
- Time Played – 3 Hours SP, 3 hours Co-op
- Widescreen Support – Yes
- 5.1 Audio Support – Yes
- Bugs/Crashes Encountered – None Reported
- Control Scheme – Keyboard/Mouse
- DRM – Steam
- System Specs – GTX 460, 2.4GHz Core2 Quad, 4GB RAM
- Game Acquisition Method – Review Copy
- Availability – Steam