Orcs Must Die!Game: Orcs Must Die!
Format: XBL and PC
Developer: Robot Entertainment
Publisher: Microsoft

Firstly, I must declare my state of mind previous to playing this excellent game…

You can imagine my chagrin when, following many moons of tower defense action starvation I was suddenly beset on both sides by quality tower defense actioners! (*cue much gnashing of teeth*)

How would I be able to choose between what looked like a pair of possibly excellent games when I am on such a horrifically tight budget these days? (*follows further gnashing*)

So, caught in such a dilemma as I clearly was, you can quite likely empathise with me when I say I sulked and bought neither… (*throws toys from pram*)

I was just coming to terms with having missed what seemed to be two very enjoyable gaming experiences when Steam, as it often does, came to my rescue! Yes in the space of but a day or two both games prices were slashed by Gabe and like a gaming super-bargain ninja I leapt on them one after the other with barely an pause for breath!

Firstly, for clarity, let me point you to our “Dungeon Defenders” review which you can peruse by clicking here. It’s only fair you have all the fantasy tower defense actioner information at your disposal… ;-) (*Enjoy the strong déjà vu either now, or remember this bit for later… spooky… ;-) *)

Right, it’s obviously most likely you arrived here because you are interested in “Orcs Must Die!” (OMD!), but in the interests of giving good, impartial advice, let’s crack on and see what OMD! is all about and how it compares to its most significant peer…

Sometimes the carnage can be particularly satisfying! ;-)

“Orcs Must Die!” is a jolly romp of a game and makes an ideal addition to any fantasy tower defense action fan’s collection. Whilst there are, of course, a few very similar themes one could boldly categorise these two as; “Orcs Must Die!” = Great Solo, whilst “Dungeon Defenders” = Great with Friends.

The reason for this is that “Orcs Must Die!” has clearly had a lot of time spent on it in getting the level balance just right for it’s single player audience and as such delivers a more polished feel in this regard. Each level requires careful thought, builds nicely to a climax and has a number of viable approaches to surviving. Additionally OMD! does a fantastic job of introducing each new trap & skill to the player, one at a time, one each level, this flow of new traps & skills to play with makes the whole experience a joy to undertake and had me playing “just one more level” on a number of occasions too many, this is, of course, the very best guide as to the quality of a game. Dungeon Defenders on the other hand, whilst a fantastic game, is remarkably unhelpful to the new player, leaving you pretty much alone to learn the ropes.

But remember, this is also an "actioner" so be prepared to go toe to toe…

A further element to praise in OMD! is the visual design, which for me is spot on and considerably more appealing than Dungeon Defenders. Everything from the environment, monsters and traps to the menus, icons and cut scenes are lovingly crafted and mix a sharp, clear look and feel with a sharp clear sense of humour. The sarcasm and innate joviality provides for a sensation that the protagonist you control had recently spent a lot of time with a certain Bruce Campbell (of “Evil” Dead fame) which is of course no bad thing at all, and whilst I can’t remember a “Boomstick” reference I was, to be fair, concentrating quite heavily on the colossal number of foes one has to contend with at later levels!

With the requirement to select which traps you will use for the level and the ability to upgrade these traps, in addition to learning which combination of traps work best together and the inclusion of further customisation elements further in the game (don’t worry, we’re spoiler free as usual!) there is sufficient scope to tailor the game to your gaming style and plenty of variety and challenge available via the 3 difficulty levels provided.

The right trap setup, in the right place, can cause serious smugness. ;-)

To be completely fair it is only right I recommend both games. If you are a fan of a good tower defense actioner then you’ll be doing yourself a favour to get both. If however you must choose then I would reiterate my earlier point, if you prefer or are more likely to play solo then go for “Orcs Must Die!”, whilst if you prefer to only play alongside other players then “Dungeon Defenders” should be your choice!

Anyway, so many orcs to kill & dungeons to defend, I’d better get back to work!

Review Round-Up

Graphics – 4/5: Very slick and polished, could have done with a little more variety of foe appearance, but environments and levels are crips & clear and GUI / FMV is lovingly delivered.

Sound – 4/5: The odd quip certainly helps to lighten the mood and the traps all make suitably satisfying sounds as they obliterate your foes!

Gameplay – 4/5: Traps, upgrades, further customisation, level variety, foes with different strengths and weaknesses, good selection of achievements, it’s all there and it’s all easy to pickup and play,

Longevity – 3/5: With numerous expansions and added content we could see this continuing to be a fun experience, as it is right now it may leave you wanting more, but is that actually a bad thing? Clarity of friend based competitive leader boards helps here also.

Overall: 4 traps out of 5

Any fan of action tower defense will feel right at home, but it’s also a great place for anyone new to the genre to try it out as it’s so beautifully delivered for players of any ability to pickup and learn.

-Richard “Rax” Burley