Orcs Must Die! review
Orcs Must Die! The title would seem to say it all, a simple call to enact genocide upon an entire race. In the game's defence, the titular orcs are deserving of their fate, as they are the aggressors here, pouring forward in huge waves. Defence is the right word too, as Orcs Must Die! is a rather smart blend of tower defence and third-person shooter.
The plot, explained through voice over and some characterful graphic stills, is straightforward. You are the last of the War Mages, tasked to defend the rifts from the ravening orc hordes. The orcs want to use the rifts to access the peaceful world beyond, and lay waste to everything there. All of this sounds like pretty mediocre fantasy fare. Thankfully, the developers have kept their tongue firmly in their cheek. Your nameless War Mage is the black sheep of an otherwise straight-laced bunch - wise-cracking, anti-authoritarian and cocky beyond belief - he provides a comic centre to the constant carnage.
Each level consists of one or more entrance gates, from which the orc horde emerges, and one or more rifts, which are their objective. The simplest levels are little more than a straight corridor, but the more complex designs including overhanging balconies, flights of stairs and multiple routes to defend. You must stop the horde from entering the rift, with increasingly numerous waves to fend off before you can advance to the next level.
Your main weapon against the horde is a wide range of deadly traps. These include classic designs, such as spikes that pop-up from the floor or arrows that fire from the walls; to the more unusual, including automatic crossbows, psychedelic mushrooms and spring-loaded launch pads. The latter can be used to launch orcs into pits of fire or other traps. You can place traps pretty much anywhere you want, as long as there's a suitable wall or floor to attach it to. In addition to mechanical traps you can place archers and swordsmen, to provide a slightly more flexible response to attacks. You'll quickly come up with combinations of traps that work for you, though we won't spoil things by revealing any of our own favourites here.
Arguably as important as your traps and minions, is your own arsenal. You War Mage comes with a rather nifty magic crossbow, which can fire very quickly but is only accurate at range if you pick your shots. There are numerous additional options, though each takes up a slot in your spellbook that could be assigned to a trap instead. Our favourites include the wind blast spell, which lets you push large groups of orcs off the edge of any convenient precipice, or back into a set of traps they just slogged through.