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Review Scale - 0 is Verboten | 1.5 is Traumatic | 2.5 is Greatly Flawed | 3.5 is Unsatisfactory | 4.5 is Below Average | 5.5 is Average | 6.5 is Above Average | 7.5 is Good. | 8.5 is Great | 9.5 is Marvelous | 10 is Absolute Perfection (Unobtainable)
Note: I completed the game once on the War Mage difficulty solo with the perks of all DLC and engaged in some Co-op. Stages were played multiple times with about 23 hours total playtime.
Orcs Must Die 2 provides a lot of great fun and enjoyment. I love setting up traps that work together to achieve multiple combos and large kill streaks. The game also encourages experimentation with an upgrade system that lets you reallocate skulls (basically currency) to purchase and upgrade weapons, trinkets, costumes, and of course, traps. (However, if you need to reallocate skulls after playing for a long time, be prepared for a tiresome click-fest, especially if you're reallocating multiple times when you run into a difficult part of the game.) Besides the costumes, the other three have multiple upgrades that can help support whatever play style you have or need for a particular level. The Swinging Mace is a personal favorite as it kills weaker enemies while smacking around the medium sized ones around to the sides. The enemies are fine and varied, even more so with DLC. The traps demolish orcs in satisfying ways. The big draw here, folks, are the various ways to kill orcs with your traps. There are many levels for you to enjoy, a Nightmare mode to be unlocked, and Endless mode to challenge you, and bonus levels if you own the first game. You'll find the story to be forgettable and funny at times. This game is superior to its predecessor, but harder for reasons I'll reveal later in the review.
There are two characters that you can select in the game with minor differences that can compliment each other in co-op situations. The War Mage has a Blunderbuss, Arrow Wall, Tar Trap, and the ability to purchase the Healing Well. The Sorceress has a Sceptre of Domination, Acid Sprayer, Ice Vent, and the ability to purchase the Mana Well. Tar Traps are quite good for the speedy enemies. Ice Vents are fantastic at locking down the big ones. Working together with a partner and clever placement can result in stellar results as you cover your partner's weaknesses. Mixing up the weapon usage can result in hilarity as orcs go flying left and right. Not all parts of the game are joyous though, the design can be frustrating for solo players.
This game is not solo friendly, but it is possible to beat alone. I found myself playing levels I enjoyed repeatedly and earned skulls while doing. This allowed me to beat levels clearly designed for two players in mind. One person just can't manage so many different areas of the map intelligently if you need to zoom from place to place without being able to properly support your traps with your weapon. There are two methods to aid you in defeating these poorly designed maps, and they are to grind skulls to have fully upgraded traps and to use strategies that are probably not what developers intended for the stage. One level in particular, Crunch, forced me to build a barricade fortress in the center of the map with guardians - archers, paladins, ballistae - and decoys -traps that taunt enemies into attacking them - everywhere because it's absolutely frustrating to try to build traps near four different spawn points and manage everything properly. There should have been more portals to quickly zip around the map. Instead, I had to use a somewhat boring and time consuming strategy. It wasn't very fun. Bring a friend. A friend changes everything. Not only will there be two weapons at your disposal, but three extra slots in total. Solo players will have nine slots unlocked for orc extermination, but two players have twelve unlocked for orc obliteration at the molecular level.
This might be a serious problem for some solo players. I don't know how many of you will have the patience to grind for skulls, especially without the "Manaless" bonus reward that gives you three skulls on War Mage difficulty, six on Nightmare. When I play, I usually use strategies that require no mana just to earn those bonus skulls. Other players will have to endure a grind that would be even longer should they come across a level too hard for them to manage. I also don't know how I would've managed without the Web Spinner that came from the Fire and Water DLC. The base game might be too difficult for solo play for many players, I recommend bringing a friend. And hey, at Steam sale prices, this game is worth it. Pick up the DLC, it'll make things more manageable and interesting. I also had way more fun with Orcs Must Die 2 when compared to the first one.
I award this game the arbitrary score of 7.25 which says this is a good and fun game that comes with some flaws that you may want to consider.
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