The original certainly lived up to its delightfully murderous name. Stemming the tide of marauding orcish hordes by laying out a complex network of spring-loaded spikes, arrow traps, and other deadly hazards proved a titillating pursuit punctuated by flying limbs and snappy one-liners. The third-person perspective and hands-on approach to grinding up insane numbers of charging foes set Orcs Must Die! apart from most games in the tower defense genre, but a lack of multiplayer held it back from true greatness. It's good to see that this flaw has been remedied in Orcs Must Die! 2. Tons of crafty traps primed for maximum orc slaughter and an all-new co-op mode featuring a saucy sorceress companion add some serious weight to this rowdy sequel.
The Sorceress is a 'charming' new addition.
Sealing up the orc-spewing magical rifts that allowed the rampaging green menace free transit between realms turned out to be only a temporary duct tape-style solution in the first game, but that's no biggie for the returning doofy War Mage protagonist. You see, with all the rifts closed, he's taken up a gig as a lowly underground miner and misses the thrill of cracking orc skulls. Fate obliges his desire for action, when a new rift mysteriously opens and out hops the slightly reformed evil sorceress from the previous outing--followed by teeming masses of bloodthirsty orcs and their beastly pals in hot pursuit. The unlikely duo pair up to stem the tide once again, resulting in plenty of humorous dialogue and more fleshed out story sequences that play out between rounds of gratuitous orc dismemberment. More importantly, this new plot development gives you a much broader range of killing options and also sets the stage for some truly excellent multiplayer co-op.
The flow of battle has changed very little from the original outing. That's nothing to complain about, considering how enjoyable it was the first time around. Every stage requires you to defend your portal from lumbering foes that pour in from different rifts plunked down along the map. With the limited cash at your disposal, you spend rounds laying down insidious traps to protect your turf, earning money for every orc you slay that can be used to continually improve your defenses between waves. Setting traps on the fly and watching the fruits of your labor unfold is a blast, but these doom devices only whittle down a fraction of the massive enemy forces that pour in, since each has a brief recharge time between uses. You have to get your hands dirty, and it's this constant need to dive into the fray while keeping an eye on the bigger picture unfolding around you that makes these encounters so intensely addictive.
Skulls return as the morbid currency of choice, and there are opportunities aplenty to earn more than your fair share by racking up kills in the new Endless mode or meeting certain achievement-like goals within the campaign. Spending them to unlock goodies for boosting your orc-mangling potential in the redesigned spellbook is a more user-friendly process, thanks to separate tabs that filter traps, weapons, trinkets, outfits, and your current gear for easy access. Practically everything can be upgraded now too, from boosting weapons damage to increased trap reloading speed, which multiplies the range of options you can pick from significantly.
Multiplayer co-op is the way to go.
With lots of crazy new traps and gadgets to wield, it's fortunate that Orcs Must Die! 2 doesn't penalize you for being indecisive. You can refund all of your skulls at any time, which resets your gear selections and lets you re-spend all the cumulative skulls you've earned however you choose. The fact you can do this an infinite number of times is great, as it lets you constantly adjust your strategy until you find a killing groove that feels just right.