Friday, 13 January 2012
Orcs Must Die!
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Released: October 2011
Orcs Must Die! is a quirky blend of tower defense and third person shooter. You play as an apprentice warmage defending portals (rifts) from the orc world to our world. Each stage takes place in a different castle protecting a different rift. The warmage must place traps, cast spells, and use all the weapons at his disposal to prevent the horde from reaching the rifts, while trying not to be overwhelmed by his overconfidence.
One patch has been released to fix a couple of minor issues. There are two DLC packs: Artifacts of Power ($2.50), which adds two weapons and two traps. The second pack is Lost Adventures ($4), which contains five newer, more challenging levels with new enemies (on those levels) and a new trap useable anywhere.
The variety of weapons and traps is huge, and you can upgrade each trap by spending skulls (earned as a rating for how efficiently you clear each level). From your very large selection, you must strategically select only a few to take with you for the duration of each mission. Personally my favourite weapon is the Alchemist's Satchel from the Artifacts of Power DLC, which allows you to lay down and remotely detonate flasks of acid to melt large groups of orcs at once. At a certain point you also earn the ability to contact the Weavers, who will sell you upgrades to specific features, but force you to choose a certain upgrade path to follow, disabling the other possibilities. One of those upgrades increases the amount of money you earn for killing orcs with traps -- that one's kind of a no-brainer.
The amount of gameplay is also pretty impressive: there are fifty campaign missions, plus five in the
Lost Adventures DLC. It's enough to keep you going for quite a while.
My only real criticism would be that the gameplay doesn't offer that much variety -- each level is pretty much the same thing again, just with more enemies and options available as you make progress. You can pretty much ignore this problem by playing the game in shorter sittings. I couldn't play a single session for nearly as long as I could in, for example, Skyrim or Team Fotress 2.
Orcs Must Die! is definitely worth its $15 price tag. I usually don't like tower defense games because they often turn into just sitting around waiting for the enemies to die, but with the blend of third-person action, Orcs Must Die! is a lot more fun and engaging. It gets especially intense when you have to monitor multiple paths at once. I'm not sure whether I'd recommend the DLC, since it doesn't add that much to the game -- but on the other hand, it's not very expensive. So, play this game! It's awesome.