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Orcs Must Die 2
If there was such a thing as the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Orcs, then they would be all over this franchise, which exists solely for gamers to see how many orcs they can slay in as gruesome a fashion as possible. They seem intent only on escape, attacking only when you get in the way. That won’t stop the traps, or the player from annihilating them though. Orcs Must Die 2 is a mix of tower defense and a third-person shooter, which is an interesting mix.
Players choose from two characters, the War Mage, who looks to me a little bit like Ash from the Evil Dead movies, or the Sorceress, who was the enemy in the first Orcs Must Die. Why exactly she’s working with the War Mage instead of against him is part of the story, so no spoilers here.
Orcs come in waves from rifts, and it’s your job to stop them from making it past the border of the level. To do this, you lay out traps on the floors and the walls. The War Mage starts with simple but effective traps like a wall of shooting spikes and a tar pit to slow the orcs down. The Sorceress is a bit more stylish, going in for freezing traps and acid squirting wall traps. While the Sorceress has the more effective traps, her Wand of Domination is less effective at zapping enemies than the War Mage’s blunderbuss, which can blow orcs to pieces with one good hit. But the Sorceress isn’t just dependent on traps, she gets to mind control the orcs to attack their former friends, saving her from needing to do all the work herself. And then you can explode your charmed victim to do lots of damage too! The traps get steadily more interesting as the orcs you’re killing with them get faster and stronger and other monsters start to join them in their bid to escape. Killing orcs gives you money to put out more traps so that you can make sure none escape. Letting a few through will cost you bonus points, but letting a whole bunch escape will end your game.
The first few levels were a learning experience. I’ve Dungeon Mastered enough D and D games though, to recognize where the traps should go. You only have so much money in the beginning to lay out traps, so you need to decide where they’ll go and then figure out how to handle the ones that get past the traps. There’s a mine cart that runs on tracks through the levels. If you time it right, then it’ll crush some of the orcs for you. Handling all the orcs on some levels solo can be a real challenge. Luckily this game has a co-op mode so you can get some help with all those pesky greenskins! It’s hard to keep a game based on slaying wave after wave of creatures fresh and new, but the incredible amount of traps and variations in level design keep the game from being too much of the same thing. Also, the sense of escalation helps keep it fresh. As you get into the higher levels and more and more orcs just come pouring out at you, your mind races to figure out where to place that next trap to whittle down the horde to manageability.
As long as you’re not a member of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Orcs, then you should have a good time with this game, particularly in co-op mode. The waves move fast enough that placing a trap wrong can be disastrous, but hey, that’s what the blunderbuss and Wand of Domination are for. It’s fun to see how effective (or ineffective) a trap design will end up being, and the orc death animations are amusing to watch. If you want more once you’ve beaten the Campaign, you can play Endless mode, which sends infinite waves out so you can see just how long you’re designs are able to hold out against the orcs.