Summary: Orcs Must Die! is the first release from an independent developer named Robot Entertainment. Fans of classic real-time strategy games may have heard that name before, as the outfit is comprised of many veterans from Ensemble Studios, creators of the Age of Empires series.
Equal parts action and strategy, this is a tower defense game that not only puts you in command, but on the front lines of combat, as well. Slaughter thousands of orcs, ogres and other vile creatures of fantasy that invade your fortresses through 24 levels of the story-based campaign. With high levels of replayability thanks to its scoring and leaderboard functionality, multiple difficulty levels, and various styles of play, it sounds a steal at only $15. Does it deliver on all thatís promised, though? Read on and find out!
Orcs Must Die! is the first release from an independent developer named Robot Entertainment. Fans of the classic real-time strategy series Age of Empires may have heard that name before, as the outfit is comprised of many veterans from Ensemble Studios, which was shut down by Microsoft back in 2009 after they shipped Halo Wars for Xbox 360 and started development on Age of Empires Online. The latter is a free-to-play MMO reboot of the franchise that was just recently launched with Chris Taylor and Gas Powered Games at the helm.
Equal parts action and strategy, this is a tower defense game that not only puts you in command, but on the front lines of combat, as well. Slaughter thousands of orcs, ogres and other vile creatures of fantasy that invade your fortresses through 24 levels of the story-based campaign. As one of the realmís last surviving war mages, you have an arsenal of traps, weapons, and spells at your disposal to lay waste to the invading opposition, or die trying. With high levels of replayability thanks to its scoring and leaderboard functionality, multiple difficulty levels, and various styles of play, it sounds a steal at only $15. Does it deliver on all thatís promised, though? Read on and find out!
Every level you progress through unlocks a new contraption for you to use, such as spikes that pop out of the floor, banks of arrows that shoot from walls, a spring-board that launches mobs into the air, and an automated crossbow turret, to name a few. You can install these defenses at any time, provided you have the funds, but they can only be sold between rounds. Fortunately, you can do so without any loss in value, which is nice if you accidentally placed something in the wrong position or want to move entire groups of traps to address specific threats.
You do have access to other staples from the TD genre, as well, such as barricades to block certain routes and shape the orcsí path or pools of tar that slow their movement, but most of the implements of destruction are entirely unique. For instance, thereís a ceiling trap that consists of a giant mace swinging back and forth like a pendulum, as well as what appears to be a rock grinder that sits on a wall and sucks passing orcs into its deadly maw. Other traps will serve more obscure utility functions, such as a floor grating that uses blasts of steam to levitate enemies into range of a trap on a high ceiling or wall, or a glowing floor panel that generates extra coins for the enemies killed while standing on it
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.
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