Of course most of the allure of an action-TD like Orcs Must Die!
is the ability of the player to remain immersed in the action at all times. You are always armed with a crossbow to help stem the tide of enemies at range, but you can also use a blade-staff for melee combat and equip special accessories to use the power of ice, wind, fire, or lightning to become a one-man killing machine. These other weapons and items take up one of the 10 slots on your quickbar that could otherwise be allotted to a trap, though, so you must carefully consider your strategy at the beginning of each round. If you would rather not involve yourself directly in the fighting, but still donít want to focus only on traps, you can also summon archer and paladin minions that will fight for you.
Through the duration of each round, youíre given the option to spend money on special upgrades from one of three disciplines: you can choose to augment the effectiveness of your traps and minions, supercharge your personal strength in combat and magic, or unlock support abilities that improve most every aspect of your defenses a little bit and even provide a chance for fallen enemies to revive and fight on your side. These are optional of course, but when used effectively, these temporary upgrades can turn the tide of battle. More persistent improvements are available if you have enough skulls, which are awarded at the end of each level based on your overall performance. Spend them wisely to realize the full potential of your traps and minions and enhance your strategies.
And you will
need strategy -- several different ones, in fact. Unlike some other tower defense games where youíre allowed to grow complacent and use the same general type of defense against most threats, all of OMD!ís levels are individually-crafted to suit various defensive tactics. If you donít adapt to your surroundings and use what advantages are given to you, you will likely fail, especially in later levels when the enemy comes at you from several directions and in very large numbers. Things get really complicated when boss enemies start to appear; you should be particularly wary of the fast-moving assassin that will come directly for you!
Often times, you will need to take special care to focus on defending choke points (creating your own if need be) or building only where needed. Some levels with multiple entry-ways will only spawn enemies from one of them at a time, so you might have to relocate your traps or fight extra hard to hold that route on your own. The latter becomes easier to pull off if youíre able to utilize some environmental hazards, such as lava pits, giant rolling logs, or overhead vats of acid.
Thereís a sort of exaggerated, cartoonish flair to Orcs Must Die!ís visuals, which is very appropriate for the generally light-hearted and silly mood of the game. (Your character makes smart-alecky comments all the time and celebrates victories with an end-zone dance.) They donít use cel-shading, but the hand-painted art style does allow them to get away with lower resolution textures, it seems. Otherwise the graphics are technically pretty good for a budget indie title, the product of the Vision middle-ware game engine from Trinigy, a subsidiary of Havok. Speaking of which, the physics here are used to great effect on orc ragdolls; itís quite fun to send a group of them flying through the air with a blast of wind or spring-board, especially if that results in them tumbling down a flight of stairs and/or landing in a pit of acid.