The original Orcs Must Die! is a great little game. It is simple enough that you can plan to play for 30 minutes before bed and then look up at the end of Act 1 and realize you have to be up for work in only three hours. Orcs Must Die! 2 captures the very same feeling, and improves on everything that the first entry did.
Where Orcs Must Die! has lots of orcs to kill, Orcs Must Die! 2 has an even more diverse menagerie of green-skinned creatures bent on destroying your rifts. The original war mage returns with just as many sarcastic quips as the first time around. This time he understands the danger, but the voice actor plays him like he’s having a great time instead of fighting to save the world, and it really makes him a fun character.
There are more traps available to the player as well. Some of the setups that wrecked orcs in the original don’t work as well here, and the whole experience is better for it. After you figured out a great combination the game shifted from “how do I do this” to “how do I setup the one killbox I know,” and Orcs Must Die! 2 largely avoids that by rebalancing the returning traps and adding new ones that make sense for some orc breeds but not others. You’ll need to pay attention to what type of orc is coming from where if you want to lay down effective traps and get all five skulls on each level.
The biggest addition in Orcs Must Die! 2, though, is both my favorite and least favorite part of the game. Orcs Must Die! 2 features cooperative multiplayer. I love cooperative multiplayer, and it is implemented really well here. Going against wave after wave of orcs is ridiculously fun with a friend, and combining the traps of the war mage with those of the sorceress enables you to use setups that are unavailable to either character while playing solo. You read that right: the second character isn’t just another war mage; it’s the sorceress that mocked the war mage throughout the original game.
The one place where Orcs Must Die! 2 falters is also in its cooperative design. The campaigns are not separate, so all of the single-player maps are also all of the cooperative maps. The cooperative design is apparent when playing the game solo. No map is impossible without help, but every single one looks and plays like it was designed for two players. It’s fun enough to be forgiven, but I would have preferred to see a war mage campaign, a sorceress campaign and a cooperative campaign, instead of one set of maps that functions as the base for all three.
Pros: Challenging maps, new maps and traps, new player with unique traps, co-op multiplayer
Cons: All maps shared between single player and multiplayer so all are designed with co-op in mind