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PAX East 2012: Orcs Must Die! 2 hands-on

Orcs Must Die! 2  - 1100658

One of last year’s most impressive downloadable games was Orcs Must Die!, a superb mixture of strategy and action that had you playing a lone hero, the War Mage, as he fought his way through a horde of orcs, using both melee weapons and pre-set traps to send them packing into the afterlife.  With a wide variety of tools at your disposal and a great spending system, the game ended up being a big hit with us – and it doesn’t look like Robot Entertainment is done yet.

The company had a small booth this past weekend at PAX East in Boston to showcase Orcs Must Die! 2, which is moving along swimmingly with its development and slated for a release sometime this summer.  The company recently invited us to jump in to a co-op session and kill a few hundred orcs to pass the time during our appointment.  Needless to say, we jumped in happily.

Yes, you read that last part correctly.  Orcs Must Die! 2 introduces a new co-op multiplayer component, where players can work together to set up collaborative traps and “hold the fort” in each stage as new hordes of orcs come stomping down the aisle.  Joining the War Mage in his fight for survival is a new character, the Sorceress, who is teaming up with him for reasons unknown.  (The developer stated we’ll know more soon.)

Anyway, the sorceress plays a bit differently than the War Mage when it comes to melee attacks.  While he swipes away at enemies with a sword, she can shoot spell attacks, both strong and weak, to keep them at bay.  She also has access to some traditional traps within the game, as well as a few new ones just to keep things interesting.

The variety of traps is once again staggering, and now you’re also able to use items in the environment to slay orcs.  For instance, you can set up spiked floors with ease, or poison-spitting walls that will force even the strongest enemies to collapse.  But we like the factor of setting up traps that actually kill orcs with help from the environment.

For instance, the stage we played on took place in a small mining cave, high atop the mountains.  Not only can we send a mine cart spinning around to run over any orcs unfortunate enough to cross their tracks, but we’re also able to set up “pusher” units, walls that can jettison anything near them, forcing them over the side of the canyon, into the abyss below.  This is a swell way to kill off a few orcs at a time, even if their blood isn’t spilling.

Along with new traps, you’ll be able to see a number of new outdoor levels, as well as various new orc types, including strong, rock-enabled creatures that take a far greater amount of damage than the usual orcs.  So if you’re one to build strategies, we definitely suggest stacking up a few for these.

Overall, we’re quite pleased with the Orcs experience, and the graphic design is just as playful as the original, with great attention to detail and plenty of victory dances to go around.  However, we are mildly bummed that the game is limited to the PC front this time around, instead of getting an Xbox Live Arcade release like the original game.  Maybe Robot Entertainment will consider it somewhere down the line…?

Orcs Must Die! 2 looks like an amazing sequel, and provides blood-spilling fun for everyone.  Well, okay, maybe not the orcs.  We’ll be back with the full review when it arrives this summer.

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Robert Workman
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