We first saw Orcs Must Die at PAX Prime 2011. It was good to see because the line was so long we couldn’t even get in to play the game. Thankfully, we were able to review the game in the privacy of our own home. After playing for what seemed like an eternity when we first started the game on our Xbox 360, Robot Entertainment has a gem on their hands. It is a quick learn when it comes to the gameplay and you’ll be even more impressed by the great music, sound, and graphics being pumped into your senses during play.
The best, and most accurate, way to describe Orcs Must Die is that you have a tower defense scenario where you need to stop object group A from entering area Z. Except at this point, you are not playing from the top down view you typically see when playing this type of game, you have third person perspective getting you up and close to the fun. You will be playing as a “War Mage” that is part of an “Order” whose sole purpose is to stop Orcs from entering the “Rift”. These Rifts are situated within the Fortress of the Order which itself is located within the “dead world”, which is the main breeding ground of Orcs. In other words, the Orcs don’t like the fact they can’t move from world to world with “Rifts” being located right on their land.
Your main weapon of choice is a crossbow that has some nice magic qualities about it because it shoots like it is a fully automatically weapon. Hold down the trigger and a flurry of crossbow bolts make their way towards the heads and bodies of various Orcs and other creatures that are part of the Mob making their way towards the Rift. Each Orc that comes at you has various skills or levels about them with the generic brand of fang toothed greenie to be rather slow and mindless. As you progress further in the game, different types of Orcs will appear with some of them being able to fly and others with the ability to shoot arrows back at you. In order to kill these Orcs, we mentioned before you will either use a melee weapon of some degree or , the main perfect beauty of the game, traps.
Robot Entertainment has provided 19 types of traps you can use to stop the masses heading towards the Rift. You will first start off with a “tile” that has muck or bog like properties that will slow down Orcs if they walk through them. The other is a spiked floor tile that will spear and kill any Orcs that appear on the working end of the spears. At the beginning of each level, you are able to choose what traps and weapons you want to have on hand and from there you can prepare the hallways of the fortress to become death tubes. Look for a good choke point and place a few spike floor tiles on the ground along with some bog tiles and you have a nice slaughter point. Stand behind it all and just start shooting at the Orcs as they come towards you, being sure not to let any of them into the Rift. As you progress through the levels, you will gain different traps. Our favorite, which is gained very early on, is the spiked wall. When Orcs run within range, the wall shoots out arrows. Effective and entertaining watching orcs fly across the screen in a bloody mess.
In order to place these traps, you have to have some experience points for a lack of a better term. You start off with a small amount at the beginning of each level and as you progress through the various waves, you gain more. Because each trap costs a certain amount of points, you can just lay down a wall of pain in the beginning and rack in the points, so strategy is needed. Luckily, as you kill more and more Orcs, you will get kills streaks which increase your earnings and some of the larger heavies will drop loot for you to pick up. Sometimes this loot is in the form of experience points to spend and they are good to get in the beginning so you can beef up your defenses quickly, and smartly.
Orcs Must Die is another one of those great games that you can just sit down with a favorite frosty beverage, turn on, and play through until your eyes burn like hot sauce was poured into them because you were playing to long. The achievements points are there, but they are not too easily obtained. Additionally, you will be able to rank up on the leader boards for levels depending on how well you have performed and can essentially compete against your friends. This truly is a must to have in your gaming library.