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E3 2011: Orcs Must Die! hands-on preview

Despite that exclamation point, Orcs Must Die! is fairly unassuming. Developed by Robot Entertainment, who you may remember for its work on Halo Wars, it was tucked away in the corner of the LA Convention Center’s South Hall, its existence easily dwarfed in the shadow of Activision’s monolithic real estate.

A combination of tower defense and third-person action, Orcs Must Die! feels like the result of Maximo gettin’ it on with Tecmo’s old-school Deception series in the middle of Helm’s Deep. Basically the game is set up like a tower defense title, but only at first. With an initially small stash of gold, your avatar can buy some basic traps, like floor spikes, tar pits, arrow walls and so on.

Before the first wave starts, you can choose to buy and arrange whatever traps you can afford in whatever places or positions you choose. When you choose a trap from your weapons list the projected image of whatever surface you have highlighted is shown, so setting your traps quickly becomes second nature, And if you screw up, you can easily sell your handiwork back and start again.

Once your traps are set up to your liking, you can start the first wave of attackers, who will try to break through your defenses to destroy a central power hub in your territory. The more baddies you kill, the more money you make, and the more traps you can afford. Of course, since Orcs Must Die! isn’t just about tower defense, you’ll also need to face the hordes head-on with melee and ranged weapons as well as elemental spells.

Though the title may single out orcs, the demo also had a number of other beasties to do battle with—flying creatures, tiny runners that are near impossible to hit, trolls (with or without heavy armor) and werewolf-type monsters that focus their attacks solely on you rather than trying to destroy the source of your power all made valiant attempts to storm our castle keep, but after a few rounds we had enough cash to deck our fortress out with a security installation so brutal, the bad guys couldn’t move more than a few feet before being riddled with arrows or something equally as horrible. Cartoon gore was everywhere.

Only three levels were available to play, but from the short trailer the developers had playing it seems like there will be a variety of medieval torture sandbox spaces when the game hits sometime this summer.

Jun 13, 2011

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E3

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