Orcs Must Die! 2 (PC) review:

Orcs Must Die! 2 (PC)

What's especially cool about Orcs Must Die! 2's dual protagonists is that they both provide a different style of play and tactics on the battlefield. Though some of the same gear does carry over between characters, each comes with a handful of their own unique unlockable weapons and traps to unleash. The War Mage is still very much a close range brawler, with his shotgun-like blunderbuss, melee weapons, and mechanical-minded gizmos. The new dwarven hammer, which lets you spend mana to spin around and turn a crowd of orcs into hamburger within seconds, is a great weapon addition, and some of the War Mage's traps have been re-worked and expanded too.

The beguiling Sorceress, on the other hand, is better at long-distance combat and trickery. In addition to zapping foes from afar, her Scepter of Domination can charm enemies into attacking their comrades. She can also unlock a crazy polymorph ring for transforming her foes at random or turning herself into a giant ogre. Both characters make entertaining picks for plowing through the solo campaign, which creates some replay value, but pairing them together by teaming up with a friend really opens up the strategic variety.

Most stages are clearly designed with multiplayer in mind. On a lower difficulty, the solo campaign is still fun, but juggling everything on your own with normal settings can get frantic when you're scrambling to fend off throngs of attackers from all sides in the bigger levels. It's not totally unmanageable--just a real bear at moments.

Orcs Must Die! 2screenshot
Which just goes to show, you don't need to be a dwarf to handle a dwarven hammer.

Working in tandem is a lot more enjoyable, particularly as you come up against tougher groups of foes. Surviving in the face of new beasties like trolls that regenerate, swarms of venom-spitting bats, and hulking earth elementals that divide and multiply into smaller forms when defeated make teamwork all the more crucial.

At times, Orcs Must Die! 2 looks and feels very much like its predecessor. This is only truly grating on the audio front, since the frequently campy quips and cheesy metal soundtrack that blasts when battle begins are repetitively recycled. Otherwise, there's more than enough new content here to justify digging back into the orc killing glee this tower defense/action strategy hybrid provides. With a good deal of replayability between the extra modes, dual playable characters, new gizmos, and great multiplayer co-op, this excellent sequel improves on the original in almost every way.

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