Not that a lot of people played the original Orcs Must Die for its story, but it was a quirky and fun little layer to give context for all the Rube Goldberg-esque orc genocide. Orcs Must Die 2 picks up shortly after the ending of the first. Magic has left the world leading to all kinds of problems for a society that was depending on it for everyday life, like to control the weather for crop growth and cure disease. However, a twist that I won't spoil restarts the rifts, which in turn means the apprentice War Mage from the first game, and a new unexpected ally, must once again hold back the green-skinned tide of destruction. While that certainly sounds dire, the presentation still maintains the light-hearted nature of the first.
The voice acting is especially noteworthy, from the awkward oaf of an apprentice to all the little quips and death line of the orcs. You'll hear the line "I'm too young to die." dozens of time, but it just doesn't stop being smirk worthy, because it's delivered in a cheesy orc voice and given the fact that the orc probably just got set on fire, stabbed, squashed and tossed off a cliff by your traps.
I kind of imagine the developers went into Orcs Must Die 2 with a bit of a checklist. Hordes of orcs, deadly traps and challenging levels: Let's just add some more checks next to all of those. The game is pretty much more fleshed out in all the areas a sequel needs. There is one big new feature this time around and that's the addition of cooperative play, so now you and a friend can team up to slaughter orcs with twice the efficiency or fail twice as quickly as the case may be.
Orcs Must Die 2 plays like the happy marriage between a third-person action game and a tower defense game. Like a tower defense game, orcs spawn in progressively more difficult waves and travel towards the exit, and you'll need to place a number of static trap defenses to stop them. The traps run a wide variety: acid spitters, tar pits, blast furnaces, ballista and spring board just to name a few. Like a third-person action game though, you control an actual character who is down in the thick of it and armed with various weapons, trinkets and spells. The addition of the "man on the ground" viewpoint creates a more dynamic gameplay than simply sitting back and watching the way you would in a more traditional tower defense title. You'll need to maintain a careful balance between your traps and where you focus your character's attention. The enjoyment and challenge comes from predicting where your personal efforts need to be directed and knowing where your clever array of traps can hold without your help.