As youngsters, I am sure, many used to enjoy playing the Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone Fighting Fantasy Game books. There were a huge number of these books at one time and while many had different themes, most were based on a fantasy theme. As such, fighting marauding orcs or a scheming elf may have even been part of your daily reading.
Nowadays, the popularity of films such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit have brought these fearsome denizens once again into the collective conscious of the current generation and that is precisely what is being celebrated in Realtime Gaming's exciting Orc vs Elf slot.
In this exciting new game, you get to select which of the two different species you want as your champion, the brutal, dim of mind but incredibly strong Orcs, or the more ethereal, intelligent, magical and it must be said, better looking Elf.
So once you've selected your champion, how does the Orc vs Elf slot pan out? Let's take a closer look and find out beginning with a brief overview of the game.
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Orc vs Elf was Realtime Gaming's first ever 3D slot which meant that the background had depth and the presentation also had 3D elements. The general theme is fantasy and it is obvious that this slot has taken its cue from the popular Lord of the Rings film series. However if imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, then Orc vs Elf pays tribute in a very eye-catching way.
Once you have selected your champion at the start of the game (the reason for this becomes apparent when you get into some of the bonus features of the slot) then you are presented with the 5x3 reel set up with the Orc champion on the left of the reels and the Elf champion on the right.
There's no selectable pay lines on the slot and you can play from 0.25 up to 6.25 per spin by selecting the bet amount. You can use spin or Auto-play to get the reels spinning and the size of your win is displayed at the foot of the console alongside your balance.
The setting of the slot is a distant land where Orcs and Elves co-exist less than peacefully and playing through the slot will take you on a number of quests, unlocking a number of bonus games (which are dependent on the Champion you select at the start of the game) which all adds to the feel that this is a slot which not only you can play, but tells a story too.
What's on the reels?
The symbols are a mix of high and lower value symbols on the reels, but there is also a selection of five symbols based on the Orc champion and five based on the Elf champion. One symbol representing each camp has the equivalent symbol in the other offering the same payouts.
Elven symbols include a bow, a magic potion, a flower, unicorn and the Elven castle. Orc symbols include the sword, a pile of bones, a banner, a wolf and the Orc's fortress. The Elven Castle and Orc Fortress are the two highest value symbols in the game offering payouts of between 5 to 1,000 coins depending on whether you land 2, 3, 4 or 5 on a pay line.
In addition to these features, there are a number of other symbols on the reels including Wild symbols and several different types of scatter symbol and these all unlock additional features in the slot as we will uncover below.
There are two Wild symbols on the reels that you need to be aware of. The first is the Orc symbol, which is found only on the first reel and the second is the Elf symbol which is found on the fifth reel. When either of these symbols land in the base game they are Expanding Wilds, which will expand to cover the entire reel and hopefully lead to additional payouts by substituting for all the standard symbols in the game.
One nice touch is that the Orc Wild counts as one scatter symbol for the Orc Scatter, while the Elf Wild counts as one scatter for the Elf Wild, however they do not count as scatters for each other's shields.
Unlike some slots, the Wild symbols don't land a large amount of times during a typical session, which is partly the reason why the Orc vs Elf slot tends to play slightly tighter than other similar types of slots where Wilds are more frequently landed on the reels.
Free Spins Features
What scatter symbol in the game acts as a Free Spin feature depends on whether you selected the Orc or the Elf as your champion at the start of the game as only the corresponding scatter for that character will trigger the free spins.
In both cases, the scatter symbol is a Shield, for the Orc it is a rudimentary wooden one, while for the Elf it is a white shield emblazoned with a flower motif. To trigger the free spins bonus, you need to land three or more of your Champion's shield on the reels. (Landing three of the other Champion's scatters will simply offer you a coin payout).
In both cases, when you trigger the bonus feature you have a choice. That is because each bonus feature has a quest aspect to it. You can either accept the current bonus feature on offer (which is a mix of free spins and additional other bonuses) or reject it and then when you trigger free spins again, you'll be offered the next quest in the series.
There are seven parts to each quest, so you can reject your free spins bonus up to six times to launch the final quest and of course, as you launch the later quests, the number of free spins you receive and the additional bonuses that come with it increase and improve to offer you a better chance of a bigger value win.
Of course, there is some risk in turning down a Free Spins bonus, especially if they are proving hard to trigger, so you'll need to use your judgement in deciding which of the seven different points of the quest you want to cash in your bonus as when you do, the next time you trigger the free spins bonus, you'll be back at the first part of the quest.
Other Bonus Features
The other main feature of the Orc vs Elf slot is the Battle Bonus which is triggered when you land the Battle Bonus scatter symbol on the second, third and fourth reels on a single spin. This launches an animation which sees a battle between the Orc and the Elf with a victor being decided on the outcome of the battle.
Of course, you want your champion to win and if they do, then they achieve a Victory Point (the first to three Victory Points becomes the overall winner which triggers a further payout) but if your champion wins then they also trigger another bonus feature, Goblin's Gold for Orcs and Woodland Spins for Elves. If your Champion loses, then you receive a consolation cash prize of between 2 to 10 times your total bet.
Best feature of the Orc vs Elf slot
The best feature of the Orc vs Elf slot is the Battle Bonus as this really gets to the heart of the matter of the slot, which is the battle between Orcs and Elves, a metaphor for the battle between good and evil in may respects. Given that this is a slot that is all about that (and indeed, the Ultimate Victory you are chasing to win a top cash prize) it is good to see that this element has been incorporated to centrally to the mechanics of the game.
The presentation of this slot are also outstanding quality with some really eye-catching animations and the way the company has used 3D throughout the game, particularly on the Trail Quest episodes is very good and particularly impressive given that this was Realtime Gaming's first attempt at a 3D slot.
What does the Orc vs Elf slot lack?
I'm going to perhaps be controversial here and state that the biggest disappointment with the Orc vs Elf slot is all to do with the Trails that you need to follow to unlock additional free spins. On other slots, you play through these bonuses to unlock later bonuses along the trail and at least that way, you can earn some cash through playing the bonuses.
I'm afraid that by introducing the element where the player can reject the current feature to try and land a better one the next time they trigger free spins and enter the bonus, is a massive let down. Essentially, if you have played other slots which let you play the bonuses on a trail feature, it feels like the Orc vs Elf slot cheats you out of bonuses if you want to try and land the bigger value games.
Although players having choice is usually a good thing, in this respect I think it works against the slot and leaves a player feeling somewhat penalized. If they take free spins early, they can't unlock the better value free spin games later on in the trail. Wait too long and they could run out of cash or even simply stop playing before they can trigger the later features.
Orc vs Elf is a very good slot that has some great features and as standalone features and in 90% of the game, things work superbly well.
However, the fact you cannot play through bonuses to trigger later features on the Trail feature is a massive let down and seriously affects how you view the game. It almost feels players are penalized for hitting the free spins bonus and that is the overriding impression this game leaves you with.
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