By Tom Hooper aka Atomp
Orcs Must Die 2 (OMD2) is the follow up to the 2011 release of the original Orcs Must Die (OMD). Both of these games are a tower-defense action game hybrid, swapping out the top-down perspective for a third-person perspective and involving the player actively in defending along with the “towers” known here as traps.
The changes made in the second game are significant and unlocked the full potential of the game type, with improved graphical fidelity, a new campaign, new traps, new content and importantly the addition of co-operative multiplayer. The gameplay occurs on a wave based format with the players controlling one of two different characters in third person for both trap placement and combat. The traps are varied, mixing in physics traps (powered by PhysX) with various elemental traps. Much the same is true for the weapons made available to the players, with a variety of physics and elemental effects. The weapons and traps are taken from the same pool, meaning a balance must be struck in accordance with your play style as to whether you do most of the work or the traps do. The game takes full advantage of the variety of trap and elemental effects, offering combos based upon the number of different effects active on an enemy when it dies. So as to ensure challenge OMD2 continues the variety in enemies of OMD with new additions to this cohort of elemental and physics resistant baddies. It’s worth noting that most if not all of the returning enemies have been remodelled and retextured and look really great for that.
I’ll start with this statement as it places the rest of the review in context; the co-op is fun! I’m not understating here, I’m really not, not even slightly. The combination of strategic trap placement, the traits of the two co-op characters, hectic wave after wave combat and score attack make this a fantastic game to play with a buddy. Grab some form of VOIP (disabling the inbuilt voice may be a good plan, there’s a launch parameter for it) and get playing any of the game modes available within the game. If you’ve got a friend who likes tower defense, action RPGs or both then this is certainly a game worth looking at.
That’s not to say that the single player is anything less, far from it. The balancing trade-offs for playing multiplayer means that playing single player is also enjoyable, opening up all the trap options to one player rather than splitting them between two. This makes the single player thoroughly enjoyable in its own right. There is a reasonable amount of content, all maps are playable co-op and single player which means the new campaign, the original campaign from OMD (if you own it) and purchasable DLC packs. These maps are available in multiple modes and multiple difficulties meaning that there is a great deal of replayability especially for those wanting to score high and unlock more traps and weapons. It should be mentioned that the actual campaign by itself is somewhat short, even if this is offset somewhat by different modes and replays. Of particular note should be the Endless Mode available on select maps, where wave-after-wave will continue until you eventually die. These are extraordinarily hard with the later waves consisting of large numbers of many of the toughest and most resilient enemies in the game.
The appearance of the game is much like its predecessor only tightened up significantly. Models look nicer and the cartoony style has been complemented with cleaner textures. All in all the style and character of the game is outstanding, complementing the sense of humour that comes from lobbing hordes of ugly orcs into ‘the juice’. New enemies look great, the animations are spot on and the trap effects are visceral in the necessary manner. There are times that the animations and ragdolls suffer at the hands of the multiple effects imposed upon enemies, jumping animations of enemies freezing and being knocked down are not uncommon with a certain playstyle.
Soundwise, the game has everything necessary; with the character quips being appropriately witty, the enemies sounding appropriately gormless and the effects appropriately…erm… effective. The music is a continuation of the theme set down in the first game with some pretty awesome and fitting tracks that capture the hectic nature of the game.
The system requirements for the game are not excessive although they are more significant than many of the recent offerings I’ve looked at. You’ll want at least a 2GHz CPU, 2GB RAM and a Nvidia GeForce 6800 or ATI Radeon x1950. These are not horrific specs but could put the absolute low end of desktops and older laptops out of the running. I’ve played it on both a Core2 Duo, 2GB RAM, GTX 260 and an i7-3770k, 16GB RAM, GTX660ti and it performed absolutely flawlessly on both. You’ll also want a fairly stable broadband connection for the multiplayer, something I lacked for a while which proved most frustrating. The game is Windows only, but it’s DX9.0c so you folks sticking with everything back to XP can enjoy this experience. Apparently it’s also available on XBLA, but I don’t own any consoles so I can’t really comment on that.
The game is available for purchase through Steam, with the individual game costing £11.99 (approx $18.09), the complete pack with all DLC £18.99 (approx $28.66) and by far the best deal for those new to the series an OMD Franchise Pack for £24.99 (approx $37.71). If you don’t own the first OMD then the Franchise Pack is by far the best deal, owning the first OMD will unlock those levels on OMD2. Meaning that the first game, which was single-player only can essentially be played through in co-op with prettier graphics and more traps and weapons.
OMD2 is a fantastic continuation of the foundations laid down by the first in the series, with the co-op expanding the game possibilities massively and the replayability and availability of DLC packs extending this further. Whether you want to blast, burn, throw, freeze or maim orcs by yourself or with a friend, OMD2 is the game for you.