Author: Rory Young
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Wednesday, September 5th, 2012
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Games/Reviews/orcs_must_die2_fire_water_pack/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.
Our review of the Orcs Must Die! 2 was quite favorable, though I felt like there were some pressing issues that prevented the game from being outstanding. Needless to say, I was excited to see what the developers had added in the new Fire and Water Booster Pack, especially considering this is the first DLC to come out for the popular first-person tower defense title.
First off, here's exactly does the Fire and Water Booster Pack adds to on top of the standard Orcs Must Die! 2 kit:
All in all, not a bad selection of new content, and picking it up will run you $4.99. When compared to any shooter map pack that's a bargain price. Let's cut to the chase here and talk about the pros and cons of Orcs Must Die! 2's first DLC, the Fire and Water DLC.
Fire and WAter introduces two new enemy types into the game, fire and water elementals, and their addition is by far my favorite part of the DLC pack. My original review of Orcs Must Die! 2 took issue with some of the enemy design and how it worked into gameplay, particularly the way all of the goblins, ogres, trolls and other assorted baddies tended to blur together and make it difficult to prioritize stronger or weaker enemies. The way these enemies died also felt irksome, as the ragdoll physics system Robot Entertainment used looked rather clunky and at times glitchy.
The new enemies, however, are wonderfully designed from top to bottom. Fire elementals come in varying sizes depending on their strength, and as they are damaged, turn into tiny, explosive flame monsters. Water elementals appear to be flowing as they move, and if you gather enough small water enemies in close-quarters they combine into a large and fearsome beast. The best part has to be when the small water elementals are thrown through the air -- whether due to explosions or traps -- their supple and watery frames work perfectly with the ragdoll physics backend, creating a bouncy, roll-around animation that's as charming as it is visually appealing. Add in the fact that each elemental is unique in appearance, stands out in the mob, and is sized appropriately according to strength and this is great design. These are examples of working with the tools at hand to create intuitive gameplay.
Also of worthy note, the new weapons work in interesting ways to encourage interesting gameplay. For instance, the Web Spinner can slow an enemy, but if you set them on fire the webbing will quickly burn away. However, the Web Spinner can then be upgraded so that setting the webbing on fire actually turns it into a really strong damage-over-time skill. The Floor Portal trap is also exceptional and changes how you play. Simply set up a map and focus on smaller enemies while lumbering large monsters walk by. They will then would return just as the majority of the invasion is being finished off and the player is better prepared for a difficult opponent. Of course, this might backfire and an enemy can simply walk by a recharging Floor Portal. Still, no risk, no reward!
Unfortunately, as is a symptom of the scope of DLC, there's only so much a developer can do to fix the faults of a game. While the three new maps are interesting in their own right, they're still unexceptional and quite bland. Don't get me wrong, they certainly serve their purpose. Crossing paths, multiple levels, staircases and quick-travel portals help make each map unique enough, but never in ways that drive you to try different strategies or trap configurations. Each map quickly fades from memory, though the Orcs Must Die 2! campaign maps aren't especially notable either. At the highest of difficulties the maps may serve to be more strategic and well-designed, but if the price of an exciting extreme difficulty is a middling experience on lower difficulties, that's too much of a sacrifice.
Visually the maps are again unable to draw eyes. The mundane dungeon tile sets return, and while not necessarily poorly done, there's still an expectation that if a developer wants a player to play a map over and over, the maps had better be visually engaging enough so as not to boring. For instance, Dungeon Defenders' DLC packs explored various holiday themes and, quite honestly, traveled the world in order to introduce new visual themes. Sometimes more of the same is enough, but when it's more of something average, improvements are in order.
Despite a mixture of positives and negatives with respect to actual content, it's hard to fault Orcs Must Die! 2's Fire and Water DLC when they clarify the exact nature of the product in the title -- it's a "Booster Pack." Expect more of the content you've come to expect from Orcs Must Die! 2 in small and easily digestible meals.
The new enemies are fun and worth checking out, but not necessarily used in any sort of extraordinary manner. While they introduce some new gameplay, it still boils down to a horde of enemies striding down a dungeon hallway awaiting a shotgun or acid blast to the face. New traps do help create some interesting gameplay, but even casual players will likely settle back into the core traps and weapons that are more efficient or fun to use.
If more Orcs Must Die! 2 is what you want then Fire and Water is affordable and easy to pick up and play. That said, don't expect it to reinvent the wheel or anything too extraordinary. Then again there's no decline in the standard of quality either, and keep in mind it's still great fun to play with a friend.
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