Wait a second. Didn’t we just review a booster pack for Orcs Must Die 2? Why yes, yes we did. However, Robot Entertainment keeps churning them out. This time around, a booster by the name of Family Ties hit the market, bringing yet another round of maps, toys, and monsters for your Warmage or Sorceress to play with. Again though, we’re faced with the same sort of situation as with Fire & Water. We have another piece of downloadable content that is priced at $4.99 for the same amount of items as the previous release. Is Family Ties going to improve upon the DLC formula for Orcs Must Die 2? Or is it going to be more of the same?
To be straight to the point, much of Family Ties is the same formula. Three new maps were added, two new monsters, three new maps for Endless mode, and a handful of new toys. In fact the only difference in the offerings is that we get weapons and a trinket instead of new traps, with the addition of a new orc skin costume that can be worn by either character. Robot Entertainment is trying to bring the same quantity of features to Family Ties that they did for Fire & Water here. Another skull bonus was added for completing a stage without using mana. Even two new monsters wild mildly annoying mechanics were added once again for the sake of being complete.
The jump from traps to weapons and trinkets wasn’t a far one to make when thinking what could be done for Family Ties. It would seem that the balance between the two types of orc dispatching tools would fare better when spacing them out accordingly. Each one has its place on your potential spell bar, but giving players variety in which to play their way is something that Orcs Must Die 2 has been great at doing. When we look at the weapons, one can’t help but see their situational use. The new stone staff, for instance, is great for stopping a large group of monsters from hopping into a rift at the last second, but its lack of mana efficiency will cost you. It does to area damage, which can be upgraded, for its single attack. For the recharge rate on the shot and the comparative damage though, it just doesn’t pack enough punch. Nor are you able to connect with headshots using it. It must be said though, that the Jar of Ghosts is probably the best trinket in the game. Having the ability to fear any mob that does damage to you (away from the rift) and also being able to cast an image of fear that will cause everything in a certain area to run away is a powerful thing. If there is one good thing to come out of Family Ties, the Jar of Ghosts is it.
Something about the maps in Family Ties made them seem less enjoyable than previous releases. Instead of some of the open maps that Fire & Water gave us, we were faced with some odd choke points and short paths to rifts in these new ones. “Rush Hour” was an ‘X’ styled map that put a weird choke point that was just too wide for effective arrow volleys to hit the entire stretch; though the corridors from the first bend did provide a crunching point in which traps quickly cleared out some of the smaller mobs. This was also the map where the teleportation ring absolutely ruled, as it seemed the in map portals were deliberately left out on this one. “Breakneck Triad” was the first introduction of the Ball & Chain, but was a little lack luster in terms of execution. It was too easy to squash monsters will wall traps from the upper spawns. The third map “Triple Threat” was the best challenge of the maps because of the proximity of the three rifts at the end. Chasing monsters down one surely meant that you had to let some others go. You know that if you let a few by, you were going to be squeaking it out by the final wave. Of the three new maps to add to Endless mode, I think that “Breakneck Triad” was the correct choice. I also liked seeing “Stairs of Doom” and “Servant Entrance” added to the mode as they were some of the previous maps with a twist on them that were enjoyable.
Additional monsters that were added to Family Ties were interesting to say the least. The giant Ball & Chain was a tough monster that could easily deal out some massive damage to the player. On top of being able to smack you around with a gigantic mace, she inspires other monsters. These monsters gain a glowing green helmet to signify that they have slightly gained power. These monsters will take slightly longer to take out without using headshots, so it is important to take both the Ball & Chain and her inspired orcs quickly. Even more important is the new masked nuisance- the Hobgoblin Healer. These little tiki-masked annoyances go around healing everything that takes damage. Much like a Medic behind a Heavy in Team Fortress 2, you need to take them out first. They create headaches when left alive to the end.
So we’re left with another booster pack of items that we’d expect to come out for Orcs Must Die 2. Family Ties is no better or worse than Fire & Water was. It is appreciated that instead of piling on more traps, more weapon choices had been added. However, they only really shine on the new maps that they were created for. The only one that seems to be universal is the Jar of Ghosts. So unfortunately we are left with the same verdict that we came to before. At a $1.67 map to dollar ratio, there still seems to be a little bit missing for the Family Ties booster pack. The same thing still applies to Family Ties at the $4.99 price that was true with previous booster pack. The value just isn’t there unless you are spending hours in the Endless mode or in Co-op. Inevitably these packs will show up for sale on Steam, but it is hard to recommend Family Ties until that time. This is nothing to say about the quality that Robot Entertainment delivered, but rather the quantity.
Editor’s Note: Orcs Must Die 2: Family Ties DLC Booster pack was provided by Robot Entertainment for review.