With Robot Entertainment’s success with the sleeper hit of 2011, Orcs Must Die!, it was only a matter of time before its sequel came into fruition with improvements added to the game like co-op, a new playable character, a new mode, and new upgrade system. However the core game doesn’t deviate far from the original in terms of the graphics, level design, or gameplay. Do the new features make this more-of-the-same action defense hybrid worth coming back to?
Much like the first game, Orcs Must Die! 2 is light on story. The Sorceress, the antagonist from the first game, has had her powers weakened and the orc horde has turned against her, causing her to settle with allying with our favorite war mage. And that is pretty much all there is to it. The story here is only a mechanism to let the players know why these 2 protagonists are working together to fight the orc horde.
Fans of the first game will feel right at home. The gameplay is more or less the same third person action, trap laying, orc massacring that we all come to know and love. The returning square-jawed war mage now sports a grenade-chucking shotgun instead of a crossbow, and the addition of the sorceress mixes your strategies up a bit. Although her attacks are not as powerful as the war mage, she is able to charm enemies making them fight for her as her minions and then exploding taking nearby enemies with them. She also has her own unique traps giving you a reason to not just stick with one character. But the most interesting aspect of this sequel comes from the traps and items that can be acquired. Traps are no longer awarded after completing a level. Instead, you are able to buy whatever traps and weapons of your choice with skulls that you gain. You now have the option to upgrade traps a variety of ways, giving you choice and personalization to how you play, which is a feature that was much needed in the first game.
Orcs Must Die! 2 is fast and chaotic. New enemies are introduced which will require different strategies that one could have never learned from playing the first game. There are bats that drop poisonous bile on your character and golems that split into 2 smaller ones when killed to name a few. If you make a mistake placing a trap, you can easily resell the trap for a full refund of the cost, resulting in a game more focused on adapting on the fly with regards to the current situation rather than carefully placing in traps permanently that will stay there the entire level.
The endless mode adds some replayability to Orcs Must Die! 2, forcing you to survive a continuous onslaught of orcs over ten maps to see how long you can last, all while earning skulls to buy upgrades or new stuff. You’ll want to definitely bring along a friend to increase your odds of surviving with effective coordination. Co-op is the biggest improvement to the game, however the game suffers from having no matchmaking system. You can only invite people on your friends list, and while that is not a big deal to people already planning to play this game with a friend, it’s a hassle to everyone else.
The visuals are near identical to the original, with a cartoonish art style and enemies that are more hilarious than intimidating. The music here, although a little more varied, is still more of the same and still gets repetitive as you progress through the game. What’s different here is the interaction of dialogue between the 2 protagonists. With the sorceress being cold and calculated while the war mage is quirky and smarmy, it induces a lot of humorous dialogue and one liners, with sharing in excitement after the clearing of a wave and comical dancing after completing a level. It’s hard not to love these characters.
Orcs Must Die! 2 has kept all of what made the original great while adding on much need aspects. While there still things left to be desired, such as a level editor, it is still a solid title. The blithe sense of humor, fast paced action, strong replay value, and the increased number of options makes this sequel surpass its predecessor. If you thought that the butchery and carnage of orcs couldn’t be any more fun, think again.