As the Firelands grind continues on for all of us, be it mains or alts, heroic bosses or even heroic Rag you are probably looking for something else to sink your teeth into. Now with Skyrim fast approaching on 11-11-2011 all of your free time may soon become consumed entirely. If you should have some free time, and I hope that you do, I highly recommend Orcs Must Die! by Robot Entertainment is an absolutely fantastic choice that fits nicely into bite size chunks of time for your amusement.
I love tower defense type games as much as the next guy…well maybe a little more than the next guy but even I have hit somewhat of a saturation point with the fairly rote game mechanics at this point. You know what i mean, plant the towers down to create a maze of death and destruction and then sit and wait for the creep to come along and get blown up. It can be fun and great when you’re multitasking or if the difficulty ramps up at a pace that suits you. Sometimes though the sit and wait aspect of the game can get a little dull. A little game called Trenched came along and while it wasn’t the first to do it, it executed the mixture of third person shooter with tower defense into once well put together game. If you have an XBox and purchase XBLA titles with it, I would also recommend checking that game out.
Orcs Must Die! is one of the newest titles to use this genre fusion and it does so beautifully. It seems to fit better with my blog as it too, such as wow, uses the medieval fantasy style blended with amazing tongue in cheek humor that makes it both light-hearted and gruesome at the same time.
In Orcs Must Die! you play the last of the War Mages defending our world from a massive invasion of Orcs, Goblins, Ogres, Kobolds, and Demons. To do this you hold the line in an array of keeps and strongholds protecting the rifts that these creatures are attempting to pass through (read: end point in most tower defenses where you ‘lives left’ tick off if hit). You have at your disposal an array of tools of all varieties to help you achieve this goal.
The myriad of ways you can approach each level with all sorts of trap and weapon types is what makes this game so fun in my opinion. You have multiple spells and weapons all with different main and secondary attacks that can drastically change the course of battle and are even required to take down some of the bigger foes in a pinch. Your trap selection is quite large and feels like you can always find a trap for the job. Do you want to slow the enemies down? Why not try a tar pit trap, a spring trap, or a push trap. Do you want to inflict pain? Try a poisoned spike trap, arrow wall trap, or sorcerous brimstone. There are heavy hitters such as grinders, wall blade traps, and the massive swinging mace. To round off your selection, though I have not named everything, you have access to paladins, archers, and even some very good looking decoys of your main man.
Laying down traps in real time and having the visual of all of the ‘squares’ affected by it reduces the stress of trying to manage them and engaging the monsters at the same time. I recorded a video of me taking on the Stairs of Doom level and have it embedded below, provided that it works. It wasn’t my best showing and was my second try for 5 skulls. You’ll see me come close to dying at least twice and partway in I started getting nervous about jumping the chasm. In my first clear of the level I got through with no monsters passing into the rift but died jumping across right at the end which deducted one skull. Please take a look and, despite my fledgling skill at the game, see if it looks good to you!
My strategy was to take the Steel weaver path which encourages you to let your traps and guardians do all the killing when possible. I tried to reserve my spell choices to freezing monsters especially the gnoll hunters whole beeline it straight for you or your archers/paladins.
The game has twenty-four levels that can be completed on normal difficulty, and then again on nightmare difficulty for an extra challenge. The length of each level ranges from 8 to 20 minutes so you’ll get quite a lot of game-time for your $15 in the end. I am quite happy with my purchase and while this may sound like an ad (and I apologize, I’m no game reviewer), I’m merely trying to show this small indie company some love as they have put out a truly awesome game.