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Robot Entertainment

Orcs Must Die! board game photo
Orcs Must Die! board game

Orcs Must Die! takes tower defense to the tabletop arena

Even plastic figurines of Orcs Must Die!
Apr 13
// Darren Nakamura
Orcs Must Die! has truly made it. After a few entries in the main series, the scrappy little tower defense from Robot Entertainment now has a board game in the works, designed by Petersen Games. Orc Must Die! The Boardgame c...
Orcs Must Die! photo
Orcs Must Die!

Orcs Must Die! unchains its closed beta on June 27

Get real good at invading rifts before others can
Jun 18
// Brett Makedonski
Orcs Must Die! Unchained, the game with an awkward exclamation point in the middle of its title, is launching a closed beta on June 27. Unchained, which is a free-to-play MOBA, and the beta will give players the opportunity ...

Orcs Must Die! Unchained is a tricky balancing act

Apr 25 // Brett Makedonski
[embed]273818:53613:0[/embed] Because of the entirely new direction that Unchained takes, there are aspects to learn that weren't an issue before. For instance, while each round starts off with a couple of lanes to transport your forces, there's a third that can be unlocked through effort. Once that's open, there's yet another route to the opponents' keep, which, in theory, should increase your chances at victory. But, maybe it doesn't. Maybe you've become so offensive-minded that you've neglected to fortify your own base. Maybe now your troops are so scattered that they're less effective than they'd be as a cohesive whole. Maybe your teammates are a bunch of selfish jerks, and the word "strategy" couldn't even be used in the most liberal of senses to describe what they're doing. The underlying glue here is the in-game currency; after all, you won't get too far without it. Gold and leadership points act as the overarching means to upgrade everything in Unchained. Traps, minion spawn-points, skills -- all are acquired through these currencies. Of course, there's not enough to go around, and that's where difficult decisions will have to be made that look to define the entire Unchained experience. So, will you adopt an offensive or a defensive style? It seems that a smart and skilled player won't get bottlenecked into one, but will be able to adapt on-the-fly (or convince their teammates to diversify and stick to their roles). I only had one round to figure it out, but I went unrelentingly offensive. It helped that I had a developer explaining everything to me while the other nine players were left to their own devices, but attack-heavy seemed like the way to go when everyone was mostly new to the game. After having been taught a nifty trick where I could prompt my forces to not fight, but run through and past anything that might hold them up, it was no time at all until they made it into the enemy rift and victory was secured. While Unchained is going free-to-play later this year, anyone that's paid the slightest attention to that scene knows there's always the option to spend some of your precious real-world money. This is where the monetization model comes into play. Robot's take on this is to offer digital packs of cards that can be bought with both in-game currency and cold, hard cash. These cards add an interesting twist on Unchained. They add new iterations of pretty much everything in the game -- from heroes to minions to traps. As if Unchained didn't have enough differentiation to keep players on their toes, they'll also need to know how to build an efficient deck. While it's necessary to figure out the offensive/defensive aspect for each round, these cards serve to further nuance that and lead to possibly endless customization. Whatever your approach ends up being with Unchained, it's probably going to be vastly different than what you're used to from the other Orcs Must Die! games. Just because the namesake and art style are the same, doesn't mean that it's the same Orcs that you played in the past. No, Unchained is going to do all it can to make sure that you balance your playstyles, or suffer defeat as a result of your neglect.
Orcs preview photo
Some offense, some defense
Robot Entertainment's flagship title, Orcs Must Die!, has been something of a one-trick pony, albeit a very good pony at that. Both games in the franchise thus far have been tower defense games, and, as you can probably disce...

Orcs Must Die! photo
Orcs Must Die!

Robot Entertainment is switching things up in Orcs Must Die! Unchained

Head-to-head fortress siege action
Apr 10
// Jordan Devore
Ahead of PAX East, Robot Entertainment has announced Orcs Must Die! Unchained and it sounds like the next logical step for the series. Players will control the forces on both sides, meaning you'll have to attack the other te...

Steam Workshop photo
Steam Workshop

Orcs Must Die! 2 adds Steam Workshop support

Mods for traps, weapons, and more
Jul 12
// Jordan Devore
While I didn't stick around with Orcs Must Die! 2 like I did with its predecessor, it still provided some decent action/tower defense gameplay. In a move that will hopefully breathe new life into the title on PC, developer Ro...
Steam sale photo
Steam sale

Steam has the Orcs Must Die! series for 75% off

Both games and their DLC for under $10
Apr 03
// Jordan Devore
Robot Entertainment is running a worthwhile Steam sale on Orcs Must Die! ($2.49) and its follow-up ($3.74) over the next day that marks the third-person action/tower defense games 75 percent off. Rela...
Sale photo

Robot Entertainment celebrates 4 years with a sale

Save 75% on Orcs Must Die! and Hero Academy
Mar 02
// Conrad Zimmerman
This weekend, Robot Entertainment (makers of such fine video games as Orcs Must Die!) are celebrating their 4th anniversary as a company with a big ol' sale of their products. On the company's official store, you can purchase...

Review: Orcs Must Die! 2

Jul 27 // Allistair Pinsof
[embed]232017:44515[/embed] Orcs Must Die! 2 (PC)Developer: Robot EntertainmentPublisher: Robot Entertainment Release: July 30, 2012MSRP: $14.99Rig: Intel i5-2500k @3.30 GHz, 8GB of RAM, GeForce GTX 580 GPU (SLI) When Orcs Must Die! came out a year ago, it felt necessary to explain the tower defense genre. Now that Orcs Must Die!, Dungeon Defenders, and other games have changed the genre rules, I’m not sure if this is any longer necessary or even helpful. What you do need to know is that Orcs is among the best of the genre. It is as addicting and fun as PixelJunk Monsters and Plants vs. Zombies without imitating either. This sequel, released a scant nine months later, only builds upon the strengths of the original. Given the brief development of this follow-up, players wouldn’t be wrong for curbing their expectations before jumping into Orcs 2. This isn’t a sequel that drastically changes the visuals, mechanics, or setting. However, it is a sequel that addresses nearly every complaint lodged against the original and comes close to perfecting what was already one of the best games of last year. Everything from more customization to co-op make this a superior game. I personally prefer the first game’s levels, but even those can be played via DLC (free to those who previously purchased the original on Steam). Whether you play solo or co-op, you’ll be grateful for the changes made to the spellbook. The spellbook is now divided into different sections for weapons (now upgradable), traps, trinkets (providing passive and active buffs), and costumes (the dead end for those who have unlocked all else). You can upgrade each item up to three times, give it buffs, and add new abilities (for example, gain the ability to use wall arrows on the ceiling). You can invest so heavily in one item that you won’t be able to see as many traps and weapons in action this time. This is both a good and bad thing, depending how you look at it. If you want to see everything the game has to offer, you’ll need to play a lot more of it. On the other hand, players now have a good incentive to keep playing after finishing the story. Even when you max out all of your War Mage’s items after beating Nightmare mode, you can do it all over again with the Sorceress. The game’s clever additions don’t stop there. Returning fans will be happy to find that the crossbow is no longer forced into the loadout and that skulls can be fully refunded at any time. This gives players the freedom to experiment and try new traps out. There are a lot of great additions to the arsenal that you won’t want to miss out on as well. I spent the majority of the game with the blunderbuss (a shotgun with a serious wallop), ice amulet, wall arrows (which now slows enemies when upgraded), boom barrel dispenser, and coinforge. You’ll find your favorite loadout available from the previous game, which includes items featured in the Lost Adventures DLC. You’ll also find new items like the bone amulet which does major damage to a line of orcs. It also summons a bone golem. Or you can get physical with the dwarven hammer that deals major damage up close. Then there is the polymorph ring that turns the Sorceress into an ogre. There's too much new stuff here to list, but it’s all useful and fits the game perfectly. One minor frustration some players may have is that it’s hard to properly spec your character for both single-player and co-op. You’ll inevitably end up leaning on your partner for some abilities, but you’ll find yourself in a pickle when you play offline because of it. This is hardly a complaint though, especially with the refund skulls ability. If anything, it highlights how the co-op demands players to work in tandem and strategize together. I played the entire game co-op with Destructoid’s Holly Green and didn’t regret it one bit. With her Sorceress, she was able to deal damage from afar and apply the Ice Vents unique to her character, while I would ran headfirst into enemies and set up guardians at choke points. If you are worried the game won’t play the same with co-op: don’t! If anything, you’ll be missing your partner when you play offline. Orcs had a pretty rough end. The same is true in a narrative sense with Orcs 2, but it was the lack of progression that really made original end so abruptly. There wasn’t much else to do. Orcs 2 fixes this with endless mode, more unlocks, leaderboards, and a new skull system that will sink its hooks into you. Whenever my co-op partner wasn’t online, I’d replay previous story levels and get five skulls on them. If you play on War Mage difficulty, you’ll be able to obtain five skulls on levels: 4 skulls for not letting a single enemy into your rift and 1 skull for making the stage’s par time. It’s easy to manage at first but becomes increasingly difficult as you reach the insane later stages. There are also occasional skull drops that you can pick-up from dead enemies. As long as you don’t completely fail a stage, you are always making progress in Orcs 2. I didn’t play with the Sorceress until I already beat the story on War Mage difficulty, but I kind of wish I had chosen her from the start. Her staff is the best weapon in the game because it is capable of a variety of attacks. You can rapid fire it from afar with great accuracy, charge it up for an explosion, and use the alternate fire to charm enemies, making them attack other orcs. She also has a couple trinkets and traps specific to her. I can see myself playing the game all over again with the Sorcerress, since her speed, unique abilities, and arsenal give her a somewhat different feel. Although players can play as the same character in co-op, I highly recommend taking advantage of each character's abilities. Orcs Must Die! 2 is less Half-Life 2 and more Doom 2 when it comes to sequels. Its level design isn’t quite as good as the first, it doesn’t take any bold strides in storytelling -- though the dialogue is consistently laugh-out-loud funny -- but it perfects the original’s formula while adding some welcome additions to the series. Whether you are playing the story solo or going up against the never-ending horde in Endless mode, it’s easy to lose many hours to Orcs 2, especially when it offers so many incentives to keep playing. A year ago, I couldn’t imagine another game mixing tower defense and third-person action as well as Orcs Must Die! Clearly, I was wrong.

These orcs. They really should just die. That doesn’t sound unreasonable, does it?


Orcs Must Die 2 to offer bonus mode to returning players

Jul 12
// Conrad Zimmerman
Robot Entertainment has unveiled a special treat in the upcoming Steam release of Orcs Must Die! 2 for fans of the original game. Owners of Orcs Must Die! will find an unlocked "Classic" mode in the sequel. Thi...

RTX: Killing orcs with a buddy in Orcs Must Die! 2

Jul 08 // Allistair Pinsof
[embed]230892:44314[/embed] Orcs Must Die! 2 (PC)Developer: Robot EntertainmentPublisher: Robot Entertainment Release: July 30, 2012 What you’ve heard is true: The orcs must die and your Apprentice (or Sorceress) is the body for the task. For those not so taken with the original OMD, it’s easy to write-off this sequel as DLC-grade fodder. I can’t say these naysayers are entirely wrong. In a previous age, this sequel would have been an expansion pack. In a previous age, that expansion would have cost as much or more than this downloadable sequel. So, let’s just get to the game. The biggest addition to the series is co-op play, which highlights the second biggest addition to the series: a playable Sorceress (yes, the villain of the first game). Having played a couple levels single-player and co-op, I can confirm that nothing is sacrificed in the transition. Single-player doesn’t feel nerfed and co-op doesn’t feel frustrating, assuming you choose the right partner. I had the benefit of playing beside my co-op buddy which may have made things easier, so consider that a disclaimer of sorts. Sadly, the game will not have local co-op. In addition to having most of the same traps as the Apprentice, the Sorceress has a her own set of traps, weapons, abilities, and trinkets (a new addition). Her larger mana resources make her ideal for long-distance play. Her default staff can send bolts rapid-fire or charged. Even better, the alternative fire coaxes enemies to attack their fellow orc, regardless of how advanced and large they may be. My favorite weapon, however, was this bone thing. I know, descriptive! While I didn’t get its name, I was in awe of the power it wields. Its primary fire summons a line of skeleton hands from the ground that grope enemies for massive damage. This is extremely useful for crowd control. The alternative fire summons a skeleton that fights alongside the player until defeated. The Sorceress’ specific traps were nothing all that special. I only played with one which temporarily froze enemies (her version of the Apprentice’s tar trap), so maybe the other three are more creative. Though the Sorceress is an exciting new addition, the Apprentice gets a fair amount of love in terms of upgrades in this sequel. No longer will you be forced to have the crossbow take up a slot. In its place will be numerous weapons to chose from, including a powerful shotgun. Regardless of which character you choose, you’ll be able to customize them in more ways than in the original. The player can now upgrade traps five to six times, changing their power and attributes. Weapons and trinkets (which give passive and resource-draining buffs in battle) will also be upgradeable, so you won’t need to constantly swap out your preferred arsenal if you don’t want to. Skulls were limited to player performance in OMD and capped at 290 skulls. Now, there are 1,700 skulls which can be acquired through rare enemy drops, fulfilling tasks (e.g. kill 1,000 orcs, perfect victory), and preventing orcs from reaching the rift. Co-op play works as you’d expect. There are more orcs and they are a bit tougher, which balances out the additional player. In response, players will need to use a greater variety of traps and have good communication in laying out a method of action. I can see things getting very frustrating, which makes me not want to play co-op. But, that’s just me: I’d rather not depend on others if I don’t have to. Though, it is fun to come to your buddy’s rescue and watch a plan play out as you imagined. One area I’m not impressed with is the level design and art direction. It’s as great as ever, it just isn’t very fresh. If you are just looking at screenshots, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s OMD and not its sequel. There is a greater focus on environmental elements, however, such as mine carts that can mow down enemies randomly. I’m not blown away by the additions Robot Entertainment have made to the series, but when I love the original as much as I do, I wouldn’t say that’s a problem. Orcs Must Die! was one of my favorite games of last year and after an extensive hands-on time I feel confident saying this sequel will be one of my favorites of this year. It takes a lot to ruin a winning formula and the developer has only improved it, despite how minor these changes may be. Due to original’s poor XBLA sales, this sequel will be released exclusively for PC on July 30.

[This weekend Destructoid is reporting live from RTX in Austin, Texas, the community based gaming expo for Rooster Teeth fans and everyone else.] Sometimes the right game comes at the wrong time in your life. For me that was...


Hero Academy Steam has a TF2 team, cross-platform play

Jun 29
// Jordan Devore
If, like me, you've frequently heard about Hero Academy from friends but never got around to playing it yourself, you might be compelled to join the hive mind with this latest news. The game is headed to Steam on August 8, 2...

Orcs Must Die! 2 is preparing for release late next month

Jun 20
// Jordan Devore
Robot Entertainment has announced that Orcs Must Die! 2 will be releasing on July 30, 2012. That's fairly soon, which ought to be cause for celebration. If you're unsure why people generally seem to dig the original, there's ...

Robot Entertainment announces Orcs Must Die 2

Apr 02
// Conrad Zimmerman
Apparently, 3.4 billion orc deaths are insufficient for the folks at Robot Entertainment, who have announced the impending sequel to their wave defense game. Orcs Must Die! 2 will add new enemies and traps and features a new...

Dat DLC: Orcs Must Die! 'Lost Adventures'

Jan 27
// Maurice Tan
[In "Dat DLC," we check out some recent downloadable content to give you an impression of what you may or may not have missed out on.] The excellent Orcs Must Die! received the War Mage expansion pack "Artifacts of Power" on ...

A starter's guide to Robot Entertainment's Hero Academy

Jan 13 // Maurice Tan
The Basics First off, how does Hero Academy work? There is a 9x5 field of squares where the goal is to destroy the opponent's crystal (or crystals) or to destroy all of your foe's available units, while not suffering the same fate yourself. You can perform five actions per turn, which can consist of moving a unit, summoning a unit, upgrading a unit with an item, using an item, or performing an attack. At any time before you submit your actions for the turn, you can press the Action Point circle in the bottom-left to reset all your actions. There's no limit to how often you use this feature, so use it as much as you want. On the game board you'll see special squares called Premium Squares that are indicated by a red sword, a blue shield, and a purple crystal. As long as a unit is standing on top of one of these tiles, it receives a special bonus. The sword (Offense Boost) adds 100 damage to a unit, the shield (Defense Boost) increases the Physical defense by 20%, and the crystal (Assault Boost) adds 300 damage to any attack on an opponent's crystal. You need to stay on these squares to get the bonus, so don't move to one and then move onwards thinking you have gained a buff. If your unit is knocked out during the opponent's turn, it will remain on the ground as a corpse until the end of your own turn. Some of the Dark Elves units can use any incapacitated units, regardless of who owned them, to summon minions from their corpses or to eat them for a buff. If that poses a problem, you can simply wipe an incapacitated unit from the field by moving a unit on top of it or by using a special item that destroys corpses in a 3x3 grid -- just remember it will cost you another precious Action Point to clear these corpses. The main idea behind most basic strategies is to use the Premium Squares to your advantage, maneuver your units in a tactically beneficial way, get rid of enemy units before they become too powerful, and deal damage to your opponent's crystals when you can get away with it. With a turn-based system, no way to look at what your opponent has in store, units with different types of attacks and attack ranges, and only five actions to perform each turn, it can quickly become very challenging to anticipate how the next round will go. After a game or two, however, you'll get the hang of the basics soon enough. Managing your "hand" In the bottom-left of the screen you see a door with a number below it. Consider this to be your "deck" if you were playing a card game. Whenever you summon a unit from your "hand" or use an item, you'll receive new units and items (called "tiles" in this game) from your deck after you submit your turn. You can't see what new tiles you'll receive the next round, so random luck can play a role in how a match progresses. In the unfortunate event you end up with a hand without units when you are in desperate need of them, you can use an Action Point to move a currently useless item onto the door icon and put it back in your deck. After submitting your turn, you might get a better item or unit in return. Or you might not. If you do swap something, your opponent will get a "Swapped a tile!" message to indicate that you did. You have to keep in mind that you have a limited amount of units and items in your deck, though. If the door counter reaches zero near the end of a match, and if your hand contains no more units and is no longer full, there's no point in trading back an item in the hopes of getting a unit in return. You'll just get that same item back from your deck. This also means that your opponent might run out of units at some point. This is where you have to be really careful. Just because you ran out of units and your opponent is no longer summoning units to the field, that doesn't mean he or she has actually run out of units. A good tactic is to keep a unit in reserve to lure your opponent in right at the end, and then summon the unit to destroy his (potentially) last few units in a quick surprise strike. Damage types, equipment, and information Some units will deal Physical damage while others deal Magical damage. When you use the ? button in the top-right corner to get information about a unit, you can check out the unit's health state and resistances. Alternatively, you can take a closer look at the details of some consumable items that deal direct damage, or equipment items that can boost Health Points, Damage output, Physical resistance, and Magical Resistance. As you might expect, 40% Physical resistance does nothing to make a Magical attack hurt any less. Try to keep this in mind when you use Action Points to move a unit back to a Defense Boost tile in order to keep it safe from harm, because if it is likely to be hit by Magical attacks in the next round it won't do you any good. You can also simply tap and hold down a finger on the field to get a direct display of unit health and equipped items on top of all the units. Tapping on your opponent's portrait will show you how many tiles he has left, both in his hand and in his deck combined, indicated by a "reinforcements" counter. If this counter drops below 7, that means that all remaining tiles are now in the opponent's hand. If your foe is no longer summoning units at this point, while you have a clear unit advantage, he or she might be out of units. If the game is still pretty even, however, your opponent might be saving up a last-ditched surprise attack. Chatting, and resigning a game, and doing a rematch The Chat button in the top-right corner is hard to miss and works like texting. So far I've only met friendly and helpful people in games. If you're wondering about anything or if an enemy move made no sense to you in terms of damage, don't hesitate to ask your opponent for information or advice -- they will probably won't mind answering your question. If all is lost, then you can choose to resign instead of dragging the game on for an extra few hopeless turns. The resign option is somewhat hidden away under the gear icon on the top-left of the screen so you don't accidentally tap it. After resigning a game, it can happen that instead of getting the Rematch button to appear you'll only see the Submit Turn button. If that happens and you do want a rematch, just back out to your list of games after resigning, load up the resigned game again, then tap the Rematch button that should now be there in the bottom-right. It's faster than manually inviting the same person to a new game. Teams: The Council The typical human fantasy team, The Council is pretty straightforward to use and it's the one race you get for free. Let's look at the units and items you'll use by playing The Council. Units: Knight  Health: 1200 Movement range: 2 Attack range: 1 Damage: 200 Physical Physical resistance: 20% Magical resistance: 0% The Knight is your tank. Unless you have to, you're better off putting him on a purple crystal square to support the attack of other units on the enemy crystal than to use him as an attacker. With 1200 HP and 20% Physical resistance, he'll easily survive an entire round of standard physical attacks. Because his attacks also knock back an enemy unit by one tile, he is a waste of Action Points when using him on the offensive unless you target an enemy unit that can't be knocked back any further. When beefed up with a Helmet and a Shield item, the Knight is a pain in the ass to get rid of a crystal Assault Boost square, so by all means put him there. Archer Health: 800 Movement range: 2 Attack range: 3 Damage: 300 Physical Physical resistance: 0% Magical resistance: 0% The Archer's 300 damage and 3-tile attack range make her a very strong and mobile unit to kill enemy units or do hit & run attacks on the enemy crystal -- especially when she's beefed up with a Sword item and you have another unit on a crystal Assault Boost square. It also makes her an easy target if any of your opponents has ever lost a game to a pesky Archer. Her weakness comes from melee, where she only deals 50% damage. Keeping her in proximity to a sword square can help you dish out a large amount of damage to an opponent who is gradually moving his offensive line forwards, although most people seem to know they shouldn't end a turn 3 tiles away from your nearest sword square if there is an Archer nearby. If you can lure a stronger unit in range by sacrificing a weaker unit of your own, though, it can be worth doing so. Wizard Health: 800 Movement range: 2 Attack range: 2 Damage: 200 Magical Physical resistance: 0% Magical resistance: 0% The Wizard might look like a secondary target if you're facing him due to his 2-tile attack range and relative weakness -- and sometimes he should be -- but his chain lightning attack can become devastating if you aren't careful with your unit placement. The lightning attack jumps to two other targets and the targets it jumps to is random, but it appears to consistently go to the same targets within one turn. Resetting your Action Points to try and reach other targets from the same spot has no effect. The second target will receive 75% damage while the tertiary target only receives 50% damage. One of the worst scenarios to be in is when you face a Wizard who has been beefed up, and who is supported by a unit holding the ground of a purple crystal square. This allows the Wizard to deal easy damage to your crystal(s) whenever you have units surrounding it. It also forces you to fan out and either kill the wizard, or kill the unit holding the purple Assault Boost square. Being forced to choose isn't the best position to be in, especially if you have to use one or two Action Points to reach either target and can't kill any of them in one turn. If there happens to be a beefed up Knight on a crystal square and killing the Wizard doesn't allow you to wipe him from the field in the same turn, you're in for a world of pain if your opponent can resurrect the Wizard again the next turn. Cleric Health: 800 Movement range: 2 Attack range: 2 Damage: 200 Magical Physical resistance: 0% Magical resistance: 0% The Cleric is your trusty healer who heals damage and resurrected incapacitated units. Her heals and revives are a bit stronger than the Dark Elf equivalent -- the Priestess -- but she can't heal from 3 tiles away like her counterpart. Like any unit, you can use her as an attacker if you have to, but she's better off behind the front line as a support character you can move in quickly to resurrect a unit. If you can, keep her within healing range of a unit who is likely to die the next round. That way you can, for instance, resurrect a powerful unit who wasn't wiped from the field entirely and give it four Action Points to deal four attacks, or you can heal it for one extra Action Point while leaving three points available to deal damage. Ninja (Super Unit) Health: 800 Movement range: 3 Attack range: 2 Damage: 200 Physical Physical resistance: 0% Magical resistance: 0% The Ninja is The Council's super unit, meaning you won't see him appear in your hand very often. He acts like a more mobile Knight who also has a ranged attack, but he also has a special ability that lets him trade places with any unit on the field. This doesn't only allow him to move to other side of the field almost instantly, but also lets you trade a low-health unit to the back so it can heal up in safety. Another special ability is that he does twice his regular damage when doing a melee attack. At the moment this isn't in the unit's description because of a text bug, so if you've been playing Hero Academy and wondering why he does so much damage, there is your answer. The Ninja starts out with one sword and gains another one if you give him a Runemetal Sword item. Although the Sword does add 100 Power to his base attacks (and thus +200 damage if you do a melee attack), the Ninja's dual-wielding on the field is purely an aesthetic effect. He will do double melee damage regardless of the amount of swords he is holding. This is a unit that you'll have to try out a couple of times for yourself to get the hang of him, but he makes for an imposing figure on the field and is insanely powerful up close, so expect your opponent to try and take him out as soon as possible. Items: Runemetal (Sword) The Sword item increases a unit's Power by 50%. That means it increases the unit's damage output regardless of whether it does Physical or Magical damage. How best to use this can depend on a couple of factors. If you have 3 Action Points left to deal damage, it doesn't matter if you give a unit a Sword and let it attack twice or if you just let it attack three times in a row. If you do give the unit a Sword in one round that means you don't have to use an Action Point to equip the unit in the next round. Of course, your opponent will see your unit become more of a threat, and prioritize it for demolition. Dragonscale (Shield) The Shield adds 20% Physical resistance to any unit. Stacks well with the Knight if you are facing Physical attackers. Shining Helm The Helm adds 20% Magical resistance and 10% max hitpoints to any unit. Easy, isn't it? The Shield, Sword, and Helm items stack on top of each other, but you can't give a unit two items of the same type. The individual items don't stack. Revive Potion Heal any unit for 1000 hitpoints, or revives a unit. Save this for when you really need to heal or revive a beefed-up frontline attacker. Supercharge (scroll) Using the Supercharge on a unit will triple its damage output for one attack, acting as a temporary item that disappears after an attack -- so you can't stack them. The Supercharged unit will also attack with a flashy animation to rub it in some more. This can be a killer surprise move against an opponent's unit or super unit that had been gradually beefed up over a number of rounds, or to deal some heavy damage on a crystal. Try to combine it with a unit like the Ninja who can quickly get to an Offense Boost square to do even more damage, but be careful not to leave your attacking unit defenseless at the end of the turn. You should always be wary of an incoming Supercharge attack if your opponent is moving units in a way that doesn't make much sense when they can't kill your unit without a Supercharge. Inferno Deals 350 Magical damage in a 3x3 area and wipes any incapacitated units from the field that are caught in the blast. Inferno is a good way to get rid of strong units who would otherwise be resurrected during your opponent's turn, if you can't or don't want to risk moving on top of their corpses with a unit. Teams: Dark Elves The Dark Elves are an in-app purchase ($0.99 at the time of writing) and have a very different play style than The Council. First and foremost, it's because of their life leech ability that lets them heal by doing damage, reducing the need to spend Action Points on healing actions. Besides that, their units all have abilities that distinguish them from their human counterparts. Void Monk Health: 800 Movement range: 2 Attack range: 1 Damage: 200 Physical Physical resistance: 20% Magical resistance: 20% The Void Monk is basically a weaker Knight with some good default resistance out of the box. He's not beefy enough to use as a tank, and not strong enough to use as a primary attacker without some upgrades. However, his attacks will also hit units and crystals in the squares next to and behind your target, which makes him a bit of a close range area-of-attack unit. There tends to be a unit next to an enemy crystal most of the time, so the Void Monk can be useful to deal bonus damage to a crystal when you're on the offensive. Impaler Health: 800 Movement range: 2 Attack range: 2 Damage: 300 Physical Physical resistance: 0% Magical resistance: 0% A bit of a weird unit, the Impaler pulls an enemy one tile closer -- a bit like a reverse Knight knockback. With 300 Physical damage, she is one of the major damage dealers for the Dark Elves. She's also good at pulling an enemy from a Premium Square if you need to. For example, if an enemy is trying to hold a Defense Boost square, you can pull it off it and then pummel it with melee hits. Alternatively, you can pull an enemy from an Offense Boost square, move onto it yourself, and use the damage bonus to both kill the enemy unit and heal yourself in the process. Necromancer Health: 800 Movement range: 2 Attack range: 3 Damage: 200 Magical Physical resistance: 0% Magical resistance: 0% The Necromancer's range can become very annoying when he has a sword item power up, because he'll be able to knock out many units with just three Action Points. Because of his long range, it's easy to try and stay away from him when you are facing a Necromancer. Doing so also means you'll have a hard time to kill him in one turn, so you have to wage the pros and cons when trying to deal with him before he gets upgraded too much. What's worse, he can summon a Phantom minion out of a corpse to keep the other person from resurrecting that unit. These Phantoms only have 200 hitpoints and deal 100 damage so they aren't a major threat, but they will always tempt you to waste Action Points on killing them. Sometimes you can get a free kill on one of these Phantoms if you are on the defensive; otherwise they are most often best ignored in favor of more dangerous targets. Phantom (Summoned minion) Health: 200 Movement range: 3 Attack range: 1 Damage: 100 Magical Physical resistance: 0% Magical resistance: 10% Like described above, the Phantom is not much of an attacker but more of a distraction support unit. Worth pointing out is that you can't give him any equipment items, so don't expect to do any surprise attacks with a Sword-wielding Phantom. What you can do, however, is put him on the crystal Assault Boost squares. It will take a typical Magical damage dealer two Action Points to kill him, thanks to his 10% Magical resistance, and the wastefulness of the act might keep an opponent from actually getting rid of your Phantom. You can use that to your advantage to deal some extra damage to the enemy crystal if your opponent is indecisive. Priestess Health: 800 Movement range: 2 Attack range: 2 Damage: 200 Magical Physical resistance: 0% Magical resistance: 0% The Dark Elves healer can heal and resurrect from 3 tiles away so you can keep her a bit further to the back if you want to. When the Priestess attacks, she also weakens the target's damage output but only for one action. So if one of your units is weakened, only its first attack will do less damage and after that it will clear the effect on your unit. Some players will try to avoid using a weakened unit because they think it is permanently weakened and therefore useless, so try to use that to your advantage until they figure out how to get rid of the effect. Wraith (Super Unit) Health: 650 Movement range: 3 Attack range: 1 Damage: 250 Magical Physical resistance: 0% Magical resistance: 10% The Wraith is another really weird unit, but a very powerful one if used correctly (or if you are lucky with circumstances). He starts off weak, but his movement range makes him very mobile for hit and run attacks. The key to using the Wraith is to make him eat corpses which increases his maximum hit points and damage output, and his Magical attacks make him a good Knight and Archer killer. After eating 3 corpses, the Wraith will no longer get benefits from eating corpses but you can still consume them to clear them from the field. If you are unlucky and the enemy keeps a close formation well away from your Wraith, it can be hard for him to eat corpses. When you keep him away from the enemy, it takes too many Action Points to eat a corpse and get back to safety. You can try to lure the enemy in, but in many cases it's as much a matter of luck as it is a matter of facing an inexperienced opponent. Another tactic is to summon him on top of any corpse on the field, which is also not listed in the unit's description. Once you do beef him up with corpses and some equipment, he can become a fearsome powerhouse. Try to kill him while he is weak. Items: Soul Harvest This deals 100 Magical damage of damage to enemies and crystals in a 3x3 grid, but more importantly it increases the maximum health of all your own units and revives your units even if they are outside of the 3x3 area of effect. Basically, it drains health to give it to your own units. Soul Harvest is very useful when you are out of Priestesses and when your opponent thinks you won't have any way to resurrect your most powerful unit that just got killed. Resurrecting a powerful unit this way allows it to go on a damage rampage for another turn, and heal itself in the process through the Dark Elves life leech effect. I couldn't figure out the exact formula for the amount of hitpoints it adds to your units in return for the damage it deals, because I haven't been able to test out all the variations yet. However, 80 damage gives you 10 extra hitpoints and 780 damage gives you 45 hitpoints. You're not likely to deal a lot more damage than 800 (400 on a crystal if you have a unit on an Assault Square and 4x100 to 4 units in the area), so don't expect this item to give you a huge amount of extra hitpoints. The extra bit does help a lot, as it may now cost an opponent one extra Action Point to kill one of your units. Soulstone Adds 10% max health and double the life leech effect, making a strong unit more self-reliant as long as it keeps doing damage. It also makes your opponent's life a little more difficult when he or she has to do the math for the possible amount of life leech health restoration in a next round or two. Mana Vial Heals a unit for 1000 hitpoints, like The Council's Revive Potion, but instead of reviving a unit it adds 50 hitpoints to a unit's maximum health. That doesn't sound like a whole lot, but it can add up as you beef up units and it makes a 800 hitpoint unit survive four 200 damage attacks. It's easy to forget about the Mana Vial because it shows up to the left of a unit when you tap and hold the screen. Try to use that to your advantage if your opponent is doing a lot of attacks that never actually wipe your units from the field. He or she might not be using the ? button to check on the actual health of units. Runemetal (Sword) The sword item increases a unit's Power by 50%. It's the same item The Council has access to. Shining Helm The helm adds 20% Magical resistance and 10% max hitpoints to any unit. The same one as The Council's item. The Dark Elves don't have a Dragonscale shield for Physical resistance, but instead they use the Soulstone and Mana Vial for extra hitpoints, plus the life leech effect to keep their health up. A Dark Elf unit can have all four of these items as equipment at the same time. Supercharge (scroll) Using the Supercharge on a unit will triple its damage output for one attack, and is once again the same item The Council has access to. Try it out with a Wraith to free up an Action Point to eat a corpse in one turn, or pull an enemy off an Offense Boost square with your Impaler and move on top of it yourself before using the Supercharge and moving to safety again. It hurts. General strategies I wish I could give you some advanced strategies, but the truth is I'm not very good at Hero Academy. In fact I'm pretty awful. The best advice I can give you at the moment is to check the above details for a better idea on how to use any one unit, and then use that knowledge when combining units in a tactical encounter. There are still some general things to keep in mind that might help you get started, though. If you end up with a field that only has one crystal, it is worth sacrificing a unit to deal as much damage to that crystal as you can. In these maps, it can become a fight for the Assault Squares (the purple crystal tiles) while long-range damage dealers harass the enemy crystal. When you are nearing a counter of 10 or below in your "deck," start thinking ahead towards the last couple of turns. You might run out of units to summon pretty soon, so don't sacrifice them unless you can trade a weaker unit for a stronger enemy unit in one turn. If you only have one unit on the field and five items in your hand, just keep that unit to the back, beef it up, and trade useless items in the hope you'll get some more units. When both players have seemingly run out of units, it can also be very helpful to have a surprise Ninja to pull out of your hat. Because the Ninja is also a very powerful melee damage dealer, you might instead want to use him in the mid-game to tip the balance in your favor and clear the field of enemy units. Alternatively, use him to deal heavy damage to a crystal and then teleport the hell out of there. After a couple of rounds -- especially if you lose them -- you will have had a lot of "if only I had done this" moments. Remember those moments and learn from them. It sounds like the most basic of advice, but you'd be surprised how easy it is to be tempted to try something else when you know you shouldn't. One of the main reasons why I'm still terrible at the game is that I keep trying out different tactics instead of learning from my mistakes. Sometimes you learn something new from it. Sometimes you don't. Try to stick with the lessons you learned when you were beaten in the harshest possible way. You also have to get a feel for the early, mid, and end-game sections of a match. In the early game, you and your opponent are still trying to set up and position their forces. If you are lucky, your opponent will get only a few units in his hand at first, and tries to attack you. In that case you might be able to get a few easy kills and use the momentum in the mid-game. The mid-game is more about beefed up units that can singlehandedly win the game if you aren't careful. It can be hard to anticipate which unit is going to be your downfall, and even harder to know how much distance you should keep. Distance means safety, but it also means it becomes hard to knock out one unit and remove its corpse. The mid-game almost always features some healers, so removing those corpses becomes important. If you don't, you might spend 5 Action Points on a knock-out only to have your opponent resurrect and heal that unit in the next round. What's worse, it leaves you with 5 wasted Action Points and a unit in a potentially more vulnerable position. This is also the stage in the game where you can use your Ninja to teleport and clear out a lot of enemy units, as both players will likely each have 3-4 units on the field. The end-game is all about planning ahead and positioning. You'll want to kill as many units as possible while incurring as little damage as possible, even if that means doing one attack and backing off to a Defense Boost tile. Another tactic is to go straight for the crystals throughout the entire game, but the investment of Action Points in crystal damage means you can't use those points to deal damage to units. In the end it all depends on the type of player you are facing, and a good amount of luck. Luck doesn't make or break the game, however, so if you think the enemy is having a few turns of bad luck in his hand then go for the kill before he pulls out the big guns. Finally, always keep the Action Points in mind at all time. Calculate if an enemy can kill you, while accounting for possible damage boosts from items, in the amount of Action Points available. You can't anticipate every possible move, but simply doing the math for the most likely moves can save you from losing a unit that would've survived it if it was just one tile further to the back.

Hero Academy is my new digital crack but it currently only has a tutorial consisting of screenshots and text, and no way to try out a game against an AI opponent. This might make some players a bit wary of trying it out for t...


Robot Entertainment's Hero Academy now available to all

Jan 11
// Maurice Tan
Robot Entertainment has been testing the grounds for their new iOS title Hero Academy in Canada for the past weeks, but the game has finally passed certification and should now be available on App Stores around the world. It'...

Even more Orcs Must Die in the 'Lost Adventures' add-on

Dec 14
// Jordan Devore
As of today, you can now grab the new "Lost Adventures" downloadable content for Orcs Must Die on Xbox Live Arcade. This five-dollar (400 Microsoft Points) pack adds in five fortresses, Frost Bats, Cyclops Mages, more skulls ...

First Orcs Must Die! DLC to hit Steam October 25th

Oct 21
// Maurice Tan
The first of two planned packs downloadable content for the rather excellent Orcs Must Die! will be released on Steam for $2.49 on October 25th. This Artifacts of Power pack will give you four new items, including life-drain...

Review: Orcs Must Die!

Oct 05 // Maurice Tan
Orcs Must Die! (Xbox Live Arcade [reviewed], PC)Developer: Robot EntertainmentPublisher: Microsoft Studios (XBLA), Robot Entertainment (PC)Released: October 5, 2011 (XBLA), October 12, 2011 (PC)MSRP: 1200 Microsoft Points (XBLA) / $14.99 (PC) Orcs Must Die! centers around a stubborn and incompetent War Mage apprentice who, unfortunately for everyone involved, ends up being the realm's last hope in defense of the unending orc hordes. Sadly, everyone else who was capable has already died. Story be damned, Orcs Must Die! is about orcs that must die, and die they will. As the apprentice you'll run around a level with your magical crossbow and a customizable mix of weapons, magical artifacts, and traps. If you want to take the direct attack approach, you have the option to place some slowdown traps and then hack, shoot, zap, freeze, or burn your foes to bits. Should you die, however, you'll be reborn at the "Rift" you have to protect, at the cost of five Rift points (i.e., health points). While the direct attack option is there, you would be an idiot to just run in hacking and slashing in a tower defense game -- even if it's a variant on the genre -- without paying at least some attention to how you are going to use your 17 traps and survive. The traps in Orcs Must Die! are about what you'd expect from a game set in a medieval fantasy world. (That is, if you spend a lot of your time thinking about ways to kill orcs in such a world, and who doesn't?) Spikes, arrows, giant swinging chains, burning coals, wall blades and grinders, and even catapult pods that propel orcs into pits of doom all make an appearance. Some traps can only be placed on the floor, while others fit on walls or on ceilings. This means you have to design a path of death by keeping in mind how the orcs are going to approach your Rift, thankfully indicated by small blue lines that keep flowing from the level's entrances. Barricades can divert the path of incoming waves so the enemies walk over skewering and burning paths, get ground by giant blades, then stomped to bits by a giant crushing ceiling panel, only to finally get shot in the face by a volley of arrows from a wall trap and by the archer defenders you placed on high walls. It's a marvel to see the resulting carnage of your work -- and gore can be turned off for the faint of heart. Meanwhile, you have your trusty crossbow to deal damage from a safe distance. Every consecutive shot further decreases its accuracy, but a well-placed headshot instantly kills any type of enemy except the fearsome giant ogres and gnoll hunters. Walking around does nothing to impact your accuracy, however, so within half an hour you find yourself timing your shots in a rhythm of headshots, thinning out the horde while your traps hopefully do the rest. If enemies do get past you and your traps -- and they will -- using the alternate fire of your crossbow will stun enemies in a small area so you can take them down before they reach the Rift. Likewise, magical artifacts will have a direct attack like a fireball or a bolt of chain lightning, but their alternate fire will lay waste to anything that passes through an area for about five seconds. These alternate attacks also cost you almost all of your slowly regenerating mana, making it a tactical option for orc genocide or a field of death to lay down at one entrance while you focus on another one. When everything goes according to plan, and all orcs, gnolls, shamans, and other enemies go along with your designs for their imminent demise, Orcs Must Die! is a blast to play and at the start of the game it's even a bit easy. The first few levels introduce you to the basics and each new level unlocks a new trap or magical artifact to use, but it's all relatively painless to play through. A couple of levels in, this changes dramatically. Some levels will ramp up the difficulty immensely, making you pass a level by the skin of your teeth or simply failing it altogether. Most of the difficulty stems from having multiple paths to deal with, without knowing where the first wave will come from and without the resources to either defend both paths or barricade one of the paths to divert or stall a wave. The next few levels can be a breeze to finish without losing a single Rift point, only to be followed by yet another ridiculously hard level. It does help you to rethink your strategies and to learn more about your traps' strengths and weaknesses, but the pacing of the difficulty can be absolutely brutal at times. As you progress, you'll also gain access to Weavers, sorceresses who are really little more than unlockable skill-trees. You can only choose one to support you in any level, but more often than not it pays off to invest in the bonuses to traps and archers, spellcasting, or personal buffs, respectively. Because you need to choose which traps and items you want to use at the start of a level, with no option to swap them out once you've placed your first trap, and because you only have a limited amount of slots to assign, the amount of puzzle pieces to solve a really hard level can be daunting at times. You need to choose the right tools for the job, choose the right Weaver (if you choose one at all), manage your resources correctly so no wave will overwhelm you, and continuously keep scoring headshots with your crossbow. With so many options and so many ways to approach a level, it borders on overwhelming more often than not. For some reason the game never tells you what the next wave will consist of, nor does it tell you from what direction they will come next, which can lead to some trial-and-error planning when it could've easily removed that out of the equation. There's little more frustrating than reaching the last wave without a scratch, only to find out you were ill-prepared for a bunch of giant ogres that take forever to manually take down, while a small group of orcs runs past you as you fight and sneaks into your Rift to ruin your score. Similarly, sometimes you can block off a path with barricades to funnel multiple waves into one long path and sometimes the orcs will destroy these barricades and flush through, but the game doesn't clearly tell you when that is the case. Despite some frustrations with several difficulty spikes, Orcs Must Die! will start to grow on you. All the traps you unlock are yours forever, making it fun to go back and earn more "skulls" in levels you previously only barely passed. These skulls in turn can be used to upgrade traps, making you be better prepared for levels yet to come. When you finish the game's 24 levels, pressing "Continue" will simply show you a cutscene to end the story. The game then immediately puts you in the first level on the even more challenging Nightmare mode. You might think it will be a breeze to run through the first couple of levels, and at first it does feel rather easy, but soon enough you'll start to run into trouble yet again as progressively tougher waves break themselves on your defenses. While Nightmare mode's difficulty provides more challenges and more content due to the new waves for levels you previously played, the scores for the levels -- each with their own leaderboards for different difficulties -- add another replay factor. Even just playing the first level on Nightmare put me near the top of the leaderboards -- simply because at the time there weren't a lot of people who reached that stage yet -- and despite not caring about my score on the normal War Mage difficulty before, I was suddenly paying close attention to it. If you aren't a score-mongerer, then Orcs Must Die! isn't going to change that, but the leaderboards do tempt you to replay levels and improve your strategies just because you know it's possible to do better. Moreover, between the new waves and having all your traps at your disposal, Nightmare difficulty essentially more than doubles the game's regular length. There is a lot to Orcs Must Die!, even if all you do is play through a few dozen levels creating the ingredients for the world's biggest orc stew. The game can sometimes be punishing to a fault, but if you are up for the challenge it's never impossible to beat. While Orcs Must Die! can be a fun and challenging romp on the default difficulty for most players, mastering Nightmare difficulty adds so much more for tower defense enthusiasts that it becomes well worth the 1200 Microsoft Points if you're looking for a meaty downloadable game in this genre. Alas, it is a bit disappointing that there is no co-op mode when the game with its multiple waves and paths feels made for playing together. Below its cartoony surface and morbid fascination with killing orcs in as many brutal ways as possible, Orcs Must Die! is a surprisingly deep and challenging game that begs you to delve into it and slaps you until you do it right. The occasional difficulty spikes and the wealth of tools at your disposal may overwhelm some players at times, but fans of the genre can sink their teeth in enough content to keep playing it for hours on end. For the latter kind of players, any of the gripes with frustration caused by trial-and-error designs will vanish in the face of the sheer amount of time you're going to spend fully completing it -- and the fun you'll have as Orcs Must Die! tempts and taunts you.

Lately we've seen so many twists on the tower defense genre that it almost feels like we should come up with a better name for it. Anomaly Warzone Earth turned you from a defender into an attacker, while Sanctum added first-p...


Interactive videos show you how to play Orcs Must Die!

Sep 15
// Maurice Tan
Orcs Must Die! is looking mighty fine with its mix of tower defence and hands-on action; a lovechild stemming from a ménage à trois that involved Dungeon Defenders, Sanctum, and Warcraft III if you will. Becaus...

Hands-on with Orcs Must Die! on the Xbox 360

Jul 20 // Casey B
Orcs Must Die! (Xbox Live Arcade, PC) Developer: Robot EntertainmentPublisher: Robot EntertainmentTo be released: Late summer 2011 Let me level with you. Though Robot Entertainment is partially made up of the team who used to be Ensemble Studios -- the company responsible for PC strategy games such as Age of Mythology, Halo Wars and Age of Empires Online -- I've never personally had experience with these titles; I have never been able to get into strategy games as a genre. I do generally like tower defense games, but in my mind these equate to a lighter form of strategy game, such as Locke's Quest and Plants vs. Zombies. Going into Orcs Must Die!, I loaded up the second level of the game and was immediately faced with an inventory filled with traps, spells and weapons. It was a little overwhelming at first, as I had no idea where to begin and didn't want to look like an idiot in front of members of the team who created the game. Fortunately, some basic mechanics were explained to me as I glanced at items in my possible inventory, and the on-screen prompts confirmed what I was being told. In every level, you are given a certain amount of slots to choose the kinds of traps, spells and weapons you will carry with you in battle. In my first load-out, for example, I chose a sword to go along with my default bow and arrow weapon, and a few different traps such as tar pits, arrow-shooting walls, and an always comforting and familiar game trope: the exploding barrel. Once my load-out was chosen, I had as much time as I needed to set my traps and plan a good strategy before I could cue the first wave of orcs and other baddies. The only limit to my strategy was the amount of coins I defaulted with, which allowed me a specific number of traps based on price.  In every level, the orcs break through barricaded doors and take a general path towards the rift(s) you're trying to protect. The path is outlined by two ghostly bluish lines, and as you set traps, the pathway of the lines changes in accordance with your trap placement to help you a little more in planning your strategy. Every kill you make gains you points, and these points add to the currency that you use to set more traps. This all sounds a little complicated, but with the intuitive controls (on the Xbox 360 controller) it only took a few minutes before planning my strategy became second nature. This is a wonderful thing too, as the waves of orcs are relentless and between each wave you generally only have a few seconds to buy and add new traps or sell your old ones and switch up your routine. This is true at least until certain halfway points, where you're rewarded with a great deal of coins and have another chance to take your time before you're ready to unleash the last and most challenging waves of enemies in a level. After conquering the second level and feeling a little better about my strategic skills, I was ready to take on something closer to the midway of the game. This level featured a much more open space with a large amount of strategic opportunities and a few archers hanging around to boot. In every level, you may be given some environmental elements and even a couple of elf archers and sword-bearing paladins to help you defend your rift. The strategy increases in these levels since protecting your help can be just as paramount as keeping the enemies from breaching the rifts. Further in the game, you can also equip spells. Though these generally don't waste your money, they do zap your mana reserves and you have to wait a period of time for it to regenerate. My favorite equipable spell was an ice blast that could either immediately shatter the enemies in front of me or freeze solid a number of enemies in a horde. These frozen enemies are not only vulnerable to your melee sword attacks, they also provide as a temporary obstacle to the rush of orcs behind them. This spell is also awesome for slowing the onslaught of particularly hard enemies later in the game, such as armored ogres. Adding even more complexity to the spells are upgrade paths that are implemented through the use of Weavers cards. You are given an option to choose between different cards that have various upgrade abilities, and then once you've chosen your card you can upgrade each ability on the card as you see fit. I went with an elemental Weavers card and with a thousand and some odd coins I upgraded my sword and bow and arrow to have elemental abilities, such as fire arrows. As for enemies, a great part of the strategic element of the game is that there is a nice variety of different bad guys rushing to your rifts, and each one takes a different strategy to successfully subdue the horde. A couple of examples I saw were quick running rat-like creatures that were easy to kill with melee attacks but with their numbers and fast pace could be much more effectively handled with a smart placement of traps, and odd looking flying creatures that were easy to forget about as I ran around setting traps and getting into the thick of it with gangs of orcs. The last level I got to play was relatively close to the end of the game, and it was a doozy. I failed it pretty hard the first time, though I gave it a second shot and with lots of help from the team I was able to set up clever barriers and fun springboard traps that launched enemies into acid. I could quickly see how playing this level on harder modes would be a challenge that even the most seasoned gamers would struggle with, though you can bet they'd be enjoying the hell out of it the whole time. Orcs Must Die! should provide for about an eight-hour main campaign. It will also have tons of replay value thanks to an unlockable Nightmare mode that is far more challenging than the normal mode, and a sort of new game+ feature where you can replay the missions from the start with all of your upgrades fully intact. This seems especially promising, as you're given all kinds of points/coins for the clever combination of traps. One example might be setting up a bunch of springboard traps to create a Rube Goldberg device that launches your enemies all over the level until eventually flinging them into acid. This is only one of almost limitless possibilities to rack up combos and get high scores on the Xbox Live leaderboards. Orcs Must Die! will release some time in the late summer, and though no official price point has been set, you could probably expect it to follow along the Microsoft price guide of good new XBLA IPs. Even at a possibly higher price point, the game is a fast-paced, highly replayable action tower defense experience that I can personally recommend as a gamer who skews more towards action and thinking on your feet than plodding, turn-based strategy games in similar genres.

Like tower defense games? Like fast-paced twitch reflex action games? Either way, you'll probably love Orcs Must Die! by Robot Entertainment. Earlier in the year, we got some PC coverage from Colette Bennett. From my Xbox 360...


We first got some hands-on impressions of Orcs Must Die! back in February, but Hamza wanted to check in on how the game was doing at E3. So, he talked with Robot Entertainment's Justin Korthof about what the game was like ...


Orcs aren't unlike you or me. If you prick them, do they not bleed? If you tickle them, do they not laugh? If you shoot fireballs at them by way of magic gauntlets that shoot fireballs, do they not go up in flames and then d...

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