E3 2011: ‘Orcs Must Die’ is an Addictive Third-Person Shooter, Tower Defense Mash-Up

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Going into E3, I knew what I wanted to see: Batman: Arkham City, Skyrim, Skyward Sword, Dark Souls, and Uncharted 3. Orcs Must Die was definitely not on that list of must-see games. However, there are times during E3 when you’re waiting for an appointment, or you simply want to browse the show floor to see what you may have missed. It was during one of these times that I saw a cardboard cutout for Orcs Must Die, and I decided to see what it was.

I don't even want to think about where those spikes are going.


After watching a company rep. demo the game to an onlooker, I had figured out what kind of game it was and decided to give it a try. In Orcs Must Die, you play a character called the “War Mage”. The game in general is a third-person action game in which players will be defending over twenty castles from an onslaught of zealous Orcs and other monstrous creatures. Before the first wave of attack, players are allowed to choose the seven of the eight items they want to use (the crossbow is automatically equipped). These items include traps that can be placed on the ground, walls, or ceiling, and though you will be given time to set them up before a round starts, you can also set them up in-game during rounds as the Orcs are attacking. There are also items like the crossbow, sword, and wind amulet which the War Mage uses directly.

The Orcs are either really brave, or really stupid. Maybe both.


The traps of Orcs Must Die function in a variety of ways, but their sole purpose is to make Orcs dead. There are floor spikes, and another trap that has tons of sharp objects pop out to slice, dice, and straight-out O.J. Simpson those Orcs. The hilarious spring trap can toss the Orcs over the side of a bridge, or into other traps. Oil traps seem to play an important role in the game, as they will slow Orcs down in order to make it more likely that they’ll be hit by a trap, or simply so you have more time to shoot at them. You can also set up some exploding barrels, or mini-Michael Bays as I like to call them. Once a barrel is placed, all it takes is a well-timed shot to blow the hell out of a mob of Orcs. There are even some living archers you can set up in any direction to add some firepower to your arsenal. There are also some useful blocking traps which guide the Orcs, forcing them to walk along the path you’ve created; with these, Orcs might be hit by arrow traps for a longer period of time, for example. Each of the traps that damage have a cool-down time, so they won’t be able to hit each and every Orc and monster that passes by, which is where your skill as the War Mage comes in.

The freeze shot comes in handy.


The War Mage comes with a crossbow, and other weapons can be equipped but will take up one of your eight precious slots. The crossbow can get one-shot-kills via headshots, but spamming the shoot button will immediately prevent you from getting those headshots (which I really liked). There is also an alternate fire (a stun shot) which will slow Orcs down for a short time. Doing this will deplete your magic, but that refills over time. The War Mage can also equip a sword which can be swung (of course), and the alternate fire will hit a group of Orcs in their ugly faces from a short distance. My favorite item was some sort of wind amulet. With it, bunches of Orcs can be pushed backwards, forcing them to go back through your maze of traps once more.

When the monsters start coming from all directions, that's when you really panick.


Orcs Must Die was a great surprise at E3. I loved how the alternate fire of the weapons had cool-down time (via magic that replenishes over time), and the fact that you couldn’t just spam the crossbow for headshots. The game gets quite intense with large packs of Orcs rushing through your castle. There are times when I was panicking, realizing that the headshots I was making, and the traps that I had set up weren’t sufficient. Sometimes I would have to lay down some mini-Michael Bays to take out bunches of them. There are also larger monsters with more armor that get harder to deal with. I didn’t see too much of it, but there are even some traps set within the level itself which can be activated by shooting them. The ones I saw were chandeliers which could be caused to fall down, and a giant pot of brewing who-knows-what, which could fall over and boil the Orcs. Based on what I played, Orcs Must Die is a great game for those who love intense action with a bit of strategy mixed in. Robot Entertainment isn’t sure what platforms the game will be out for, but they’re hoping it will be on PS3, Xbox 360, and PC sometime this year.

Ryan Southard

Ryan Southard is a video game enthusiast, dissecting games down to their tiniest details. Whether it’s new or it’s old, as long as it’s awesome, he’ll play it. Follow him on Twitter at @Ryan_Southard

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