It has been less than a year since the first Orcs Must Die! was released on Xbox Live Arcade and PC. Its mix of third person action, tower defense and humor made it a great indie game, with one key problem: it was just a single player game. The addictive gameplay was begging for some cooperative action. Robot Entertainment listened to this criticism when making Orcs Must Die! 2, and then some. It not only adds co-op play but new enemies, traps, weapons and guards. While this is just currently a PC release, it does have gamepad support, so Xbox players should feel right at home slaughtering Orcs in this sequel. As with the first game the goal is to not just complete each level and move on but to do that with style, getting a high scrore and getting all of the available skulls from the level.
The story picks up shortly after the end of Orcs Must Die!, but this time instead of focusing on the War Mage things start off with a look at what happened to the Sorceress. The War Mage and the Sorceress join forces, and these unlikely allies must work together to keep the Orcs at bay. The War Mage has some new weapons and traps, but he plays pretty similarly for returning fans. The Sorceress however has a very different play style. She uses magic to control the groups of Orcs and even make them fight for her against the others. She also has different starting traps that deal with the Orcs in new and unique ways.
The levels in Orcs Must Die! 2 are definitely designed to be played cooperatively, although they can be completed successfully by yourself. However, once you start playing co-op you’ll probably never want to go back to playing alone. When you play cooperatively you really have to work with your partner to handle the Orcs. Each player only gets to use half of the traps and weapons you normally would playing alone so pay attention to what your partner is using and try not to overlap their setup. One thing I really like is that the co-op does not require that one person play War Mage and the other play Sorceress. You can both play Sorceress or War Mage if you like, but since each has different strengths, traps, and weapons, having one of each makes more sense.
The Weaver system from Orcs Must Die! has been removed. No longer are upgrades only good for the level you are playing on. Now they are persistent across all maps and games for your character. I really like this as it rewards players who put the time into playing through the levels. Even if you don’t get the full 5 skulls, having persistent upgrades allows you to benefit from beating a level and allows you to invest in upgrades to make your build better in the future.
Another great addition to the game is the so-called Endless mode, which you unlock after completing each map. Designed similarly to Gears of War’s Horde mode, you’ll find yourself trying to survive while facing progressively harder waves. You’ll have to play intelligently to keep your run going, but doing so will get you on the leaderboards and net you a lot more skulls to upgrade your character with. For just under $15 there is a massive amount of content in this game. As an added bonus, if you already own Orcs Must Die! many of those original levels are unlocked in OMD2 so you can play them co-op with the new traps and abilities. Orcs Must Die! 2 mixes the strategy of a tower defense game with the action of a shooter in a way that is a lot of fun. There is a demo of the first 2 levels available on Steam so check it out, but be ready to lose a lot of your free time to this addictive orc killing action.
A copy of Orcs Must Die 2 for PC was provided to us for this review