Orcs are almost the fantasy genre equivalent of Nazis. They often make up the bulk of an evil army, and represent the dumb grunts that you have to wade through in order to reach your goal. But sometimes we're allowed to play as them. In the The Elder Scrolls series, for example, they're a playable race, while in the ridiculously named Orc Attack: Flatulent Rebellion, we're given the opportunity to see things from the grizzly-faced menace's perspective, as they slaughter humans by the hundreds.
In this particular tale, the lumbering monsters are actually the good guys – a race that has been hunted down and wiped out by greedy humans. To start with, you play as one of four orcs that are slightly varied in appearance, but disappointingly, that's where the differences end. Although you can pick up temporary weapons that alter your moveset, the four unlikely heroes share the exact same standard physical attacks, despite being pictured holding different clubs and axes when they're first introduced during an illustrated cutscene. After you've made your seemingly pointless character choice, you're then sent off to do battle with the hordes of humanity.
It plays very much like Dynasty Warriors, although the gameplay sadly isn't anywhere near as refined. The square and triangle buttons control light and heavy attacks respectively, and just like in Koei's flagship series, you can string slower, more powerful attacks into your combo by mixing up inputs. It's a very basic combat system that generally works; hacking down groups of enemies with two oversized axes is simple, dumb fun – if a bit repetitive.
Unfortunately, there are some aspects that quickly bog the already average gameplay down. For starters, our gas-filled heroes themselves all move extremely slowly, which makes wandering around environments a tedious and boring process that's only made worse by the fact that the camera is completely automatic, and therefore horrendously incompetent. At times, you won't even realise that you're being chased by a mob of angry warriors because the camera seems so hell-bent on pointing exactly where you don't want it to.
As if that wasn't bad enough, your only means of speedy traversal comes in the form of a very unresponsive dodge roll that's mapped to R1. In most action games, you can generally evade or take a life-saving tumble while performing attacks in order to cancel out of them – but here, you'll have to wait until your combo is either finished or interrupted before you can properly steer your orc to safety.
Thankfully, things do get a little bit better when playing with friends. Supporting four player co-op, you can tackle mankind's armies as a small but devastating squad of orcs as you combine your stinking burps and parps with your allies. Releasing gas is as easy as holding down R2 as long as your mana bar isn't depleted, and each beast lets out a toot so pungent that it can freeze or even turn foes to stone, ripe for the smashing. By synchronizing your odorous blasts, you can trigger explosions that wipe out whole platoons, although at times, this powerful and satisfying ability can make scenarios a tad easy, especially if you're grouped with three other players.
Also making your stench-filled existence easier is the store, a place where you can buy increasingly strong weapons, and secondary equipment like shields that soak up some damage before breaking. Bought with chunks of gold that are dropped by opponents or found by destroying wooden barrels and crates, the selection of gear on offer doesn't add much variety to the game, but it does provide a decent sense of progression. Another RPG element can be found in the levelling up process, in which you're given skill points that can be assigned to your various stats, boosting your physical attack power, your defensive qualities, your agility, or the amount of mana at your disposal. Again, it's basic, but sharing out your acquired points is something to look forward to after the completion of a level.
Then again, you may not actually be able to finish a level. Over the course of our orcish adventure, our console locked up numerous times – all on the load screens that appear between finishing a stage and returning to the area selection map. After some research, it would appear that this issue isn't widespread, but it's a shame that it occurs regardless. Adding further to the game's poor technical performance, the frame rate is choppy, and rarely looks smooth, no matter how much chaos is unfolding on screen. There's also a lot of noticeable screen tearing – especially during the earlier levels – but this problem faded as we delved further into the release.
Even without the aforementioned performance issues, the title is about as ugly as the creatures that inhabit it. Apart from the character models themselves, which are all nicely designed and quite well animated, everything is coated in muddy textures, while bland environments fail to live up to the otherwise intriguing art direction. And in the sound department, things fare worse still, as enemies cry out over and over again with the same few monotonous sound clips while they're being beaten to a bloody pulp.
Orc Attack: Flatulent Rebellion is a bit of a stinker – but perhaps not in the way that the developer intended. There is some charm to be found in the quirky story, and some enjoyment to be discovered in the simple gameplay, but everything that the release does right is engulfed by a toxic cloud of performance issues. There's a decent game buried somewhere beneath the muck, but scrubbing it off will take monster-like determination.