Platforms: Windows, XBox 360
It’s too simplistic, I think, to call Orcs Must Die a tower defense game. There are absolutely a whole mess of traps you can build – a familiar spin on the traditional tower construction. At the same time, it’s a first person shooter, but if you were to treat it only as such, you’d be overwhelmed far too quickly.
So let’s start by saying it’s a hybrid game. If you don’t place traps, you will lose. If you don’t shoot some enemies your damn self, you’re going to lose.
The concept is simple. Keep all the orcs from reaching the rift at the end of the level. You are given a set number of slots for weapons, spells and traps, and then limited currency to build your starter defenses. As the orcs die, your currency will increase, allowing you to place more traps. The crossbow is the default item selected, and I have yet to use anything but that for direct, non-magical attacks. The sword may come in handy later on, but really, I don’t want to hug the orcs so I’m going to stick with arrows as long as I can.
The orcs come in pretty sizable swarms, and all the traps have some sort of recharge time, so one trap won’t wipe out the wave. Feel free to shoot the orcs in the head (or somewhere else, I guess) if they make it past your traps. The first few levels are pretty simple, but it won’t be long before you want more & stronger traps.
The base game includes 24 levels, split into three acts, and three difficulty levels. Apprentice, the lowest difficulty level, restricts you to earning no more than 2 skulls per level. This is quite a trade-off for a lower difficulty, because you use the skulls you earn (up to five per level on default “War Mage” difficulty) to upgrade your spells and traps. And you’re likely going to want to do that as quickly as you can. The third difficulty only opens after being the campaign on normal.
Having purchased the game through Steam, I also can see the top scores of my Steam friends. As soon as I can figure out exactly what improves your score, there’s that additional motivation to keep playing to beat those scores. There’s a lot of replay value here.
This isn’t the type of game I normally gravitate towards, but it’s definitely fun in small doses, and I have no regrets picking this up as part of the franchise pack that includes all the DLC for the original game, and the sequel with its DLC. It’s on sale for 90% off on Steam through 10am Pacific on Friday, the 26th, and for that price, it’s a total steal.