Review by anema86

"The Most Fun Game I've Played In About a Decade"

In my 23ish years of gaming, I have played some incredible games, and I have played some terrible games--usually the latter. So when I come across a modern game that is not only incredible, but which can also go toe-to-toe with some of the funnest games I've ever played, I feel compelled to share the game with others.

The game is "Orcs Must Die 2," and that's all you really need to know about the story. It *has* a story, sure, which deals with a Sorceress losing her magic, and thus the ability to mind-control the Orcs into serving her. Some Rifts open, yada yada, and your job is to lay a bunch of traps and prevent the orcs from reaching the rifts... by shredding them to pieces.

It's what is known as a Tower Defense game, and this is the first game of that genre that I believe I've ever played. If other games capture this level of fun, then I'll certainly be delving further into the Tower Defense genre. But I find it hard to imagine that Orcs Must Die 2 isn't just a freak-of-nature.

I would like to give the game a 9.5, but Gamefaqs doesn't allow decimals. So 9 it is. It doesn't deserve a 10, because it focuses stage design heavily on Co-Op toward the end of the game (a flaw) and lacks a Create-A-Stage mode (not really a flaw, but its presence would certainly have earned the game a 10).

GRAPHICS 8.75 / 10

The graphics take a cartoon-like approach reminiscent of World of Warcraft and Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, which is actually kind of good, because at any given moment there are likely to be 30 Orcs on your screen, 20 traps going off, pieces of orc flying everywhere, plus whatever spells you happen to be casting--this game would be extraordinarily demanding with realist graphics. Kudos to the developers for having the sense to go for Style over Realism.

I don't like the cartoon look in most games. I understood its purpose in World of Warcraft, but I hated it in Kingdoms of Amalur. Single-player RPGs should look incredible; single-player RPGs should always push the envelope in terms of graphics-- you know, like Final Fantasy has consistently done since the Super Nintendo. I was disappointed with Amalur's graphics, but I don't mind those of Orcs Must Die 2. The cartoon look is oddly fitting, and it is necessary to avoid requiring the player have a $700 video card.

SOUND: 10 / 10

The music of the game is generally a mix of upbeat metal guitar riffs and electronica. I don't know what to call the music of the game, but it is awesome. I've occasionally lowered the Music Volume to 0 and listened to Disturbed or Tool or something while playing, and those all worked for the game perfectly, as well.

There isn't a great deal of variety in the music when it comes to different stages; a number of stages seem to share the same music, but that's not much of an issue because the music IS awesome. The video game with the best music is, of course, Final Fantasy VI, but right behind it is Orcs Must Die 2. Yeah, it's that good.

I don't know who started this "I can't remember any of the music after playing, so the music deserves a bad score" crap, but remembering a song after playing isn't a testament to the quality of a song. After all, a lot of Beethoven's works are masterpieces, but unless you've learned to play them, you're not going to be able to remember the songs after listening to them a few times; they're just too complex. If you CAN remember a song from a video game, then the odds are that it was either played repeatedly or it was a simple song. The more complicated a song is, and the less frequently the game lets you hear it, the less likely you are to remember it, whether it is a good song or not. So let's agree to stop being stupid, okay? Let's agree to stop judging a game's music based on whether or not a person "remembers it" after playing the game.

The sound effects are well done, too. Traps constantly go off, and you can tell which traps are going off by the sounds. There are explosion-esque sounds, spring-esque sounds, pounding sounds, and all sorts of others. The game's sound effects are pretty much what you would expect from a game called "Orcs Must Die".

The voice-acting is well done, but that may be slightly skewed because I absolutely loved the dialogue in this game. It is funny like a Monty Python skit (though I'm not saying the humor is of the same caliper; simply that it is that same kind of comedy), and it never takes itself too seriously. The game is worth playing just to hear the dialogue alone, because it really is that funny. Very well done.

GAMEPLAY: 10 / 10

The gameplay is absolutely flawless. I have never been so addicted to a game, nor have I ever had so much fun playing a game. Fun is the common denominator across all video games, but an unusually large number of [high-production] games seem to forget that. The developers did NOT forget that, and Fun was the focus of everything they did.

The premise is very simple. There are 3-4 gates that enemies will come through. They will try to get to a portal. Lay a bunch of traps to kill them so they can't reach the portal. If worse comes to worst, then you also have weapons and can attack them with melee weapons or ranged weapons. In addition, one of the main features of the Sorceress is that she can charm an enemy, which causes him to attack his friends. Doing this while a horde of orcs runs across a Coin Trap (I forget its name) with a bunch of other traps going off around them is a great way to rake in a bunch of gold.

Traps cost gold, of course, and you earn gold for every enemy you kill. Some enemies
drop more than others, but all enemies will give you some gold when they die. There are
also ways to increase the amount of gold enemies drop.

Enemies come in waves, and after every 3rd wave or so (on Normal difficulty, anyway; you get a break after every wave on easy), you get the chance to recuperate, move any traps you want to move, remove any you no longer need, and lay out more. The action won't begin again until you tell it to. Every other wave gives you about 8 seconds in which to recuperate and adjust your traps, so these breaks every 3 waves or so are tremendously useful.

You earn Skulls for killing enemies, for completing levels, and for some other things that I haven't quite identified. Sometimes, enemies will drop skulls on the battlefield, and some battlefields have Skulls hidden in them. You use Skulls to purchase upgrades for your traps, to purchase new traps, to upgrade your weapons, to purchase new weapons, to buy new outfits, trinkets, and so on. There are a lot of uses for Skulls, and it keeps the game fresh and exciting, because you'll find yourself always going back to Endless Mode and getting just two or three waves further than you did before.

The game features a campaign, though I don't know yet if each character (there are 2) get their own campaign or if they just play through the same levels. I'm fairly sure it's the latter, so I haven't bothered to play the dude yet. I don't know how I'll manage without the Charm ability.

The Endless Mode is where it's at, even if the Endless Mode isn't... endless. It does have an end--50 Waves. I don't know why they called it Endless Mode; Endurance Mode would have been much better. Moreover, I don't know why they put an end to it in the first place. It wouldn't have been too difficult to throw out more enemies at higher frequencies past Wave 50, but whatever. Endurance Mode, it is.

Endless Mode is where you'll earn most of your Skulls--where, it was for me. The campaign is fun, but Endless Mode allows you to position the battlefield with traps in ways that the 12-Wave campaign levels don't--if you can survive long enough to modify the battlefield properly. You do have a number of Lives (both in Endless and Campaign Mode), but I'm not certain what exactly that number is, because I've never tried to count.

You lose a level if a certain number of enemies crosses into the Rift or if you die too many times. You may laugh when you see that 30 enemies can cross into the Rift before you lose, but once the action really starts, you'll be glad it's so high--especially with those damned Gnolls, which are so fast they are out of a trap's range by the time they activate it. This means they will run through your gauntlet, setting off every single trap, and not taking damage from any of them. Then the bulk of the horde will pass through your gauntlet unharmed because the traps haven't yet reset from the Gnoll that ran across them. Yes. Killing Gnolls is imperative.

The game is 2-player Co-Op, but I haven't played with anyone yet. I'm not a big fan of multiplayer in action games, but a lot of the dungeons are designed around the existence of a second player. Later stages are very difficult to solo, but possible with enough Archers and Crates.

The only complaint I can make about Orcs Must Die 2 is that it lacks a Create-A-Stage mode. The developers really dropped the ball on this one. A Create-A-Stage mode would have been just absolutely incredible, and would have vaulted Orcs Must Die 2 into My Favorite Game, currently held by The Legend of Zelda for NES (a position it has held for about 23 years, so you can imagine how fun I've found Orcs Must Die 2).

SUMMARY

PLAY THIS GAME! I'm not exaggerating.

PROS

- You get to blow up hordes of Orcs!
- Well-done and humorous dialogue
- Doesn't try to be something it's not--limits story to very short scenes
- Extraordinarily fun
- Lots of ways to improve/customize your Skillsets
- Awesome music
- Awesome music (Yes, it deserves being typed twice)
- Co-Op 2-Players

CONS

- No Create-A-Stage
- Later stages are designed for Co-Op, not Single-Player


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 11/05/12

Game Release: Orcs Must Die! 2 (US, 07/30/12)


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