Review by DouglasFett

"RISK: The Next Generation"

Ah, RISK. That game us older fellas always remember playing with other nerds during lunch time in junior High and High School. Back in those days, it was just a game board, and your soldiers looked like infantrymen from the 18th century. Ah, those were good times.

There were a few PC versions, not very good (although the version from Shockwave was very impressive), and finally, us strategy and tactics hounds were given the chance to play RISK again, not with a new board version, not with a new PC release, but an original creation released on the Xbox Live Arcade. Enter RISK Factions. Wow, I do not miss having to set up individual infantry each time I had to play, or having to break down my cannons into cavalry and so forth. So here we go.

1. Graphics 10/10: Cartoonish. Thats not to mock the game, thats what the designers intended. The graphics go hand in hand with the story (see below), for they are tongue in cheek jokes.

2. Sound 10/10: The music ain't bad. There are select audio clips, like rolling the dice, taking a territory. The voice acting is just in sync with the humorous cutscenes of the story mode.

3. Story 10/10: A purely farcical story of opposing factions, in which you play each of the five factions, five missions. Some could say it should have been longer, but hey. The game literally is just one big joke, if there were multiple missions for each faction people would take it seriously. Short but sweet.

4. Gameplay: Here's the thing...

- New "Factions" features: Let's start with the good. Besides being able to play against the AI or human opponents on the original "World" map of classic RISK, in addition to all the new maps created by EA for this game, there are in-mission "rewards" that can be had by completing certain objectives. For example, if you capture seven territories in one turn, you may earn a reward where you can earn a card (which are used to turn in so as to deploy more troops) regardless of whether you conquer a territory or not during that turn. Another reward allows you two extra troops at the beginning of deployment. Stuff like that. This is a pretty neat little idea, and helps to spice up the experience of playing RISK.

- Rules: General RISK rules apply. Troop deployment depends on number of territories, continents owned, and cards turned in. The thing with cards though is that, since this is an e-version, there are no infantry/cavalry/artillery units. You just have numbers. So card turn in is this: you can have a max of 10 cards. Any time before you reach 10, you can turn in those cards, be it all of them or only a few. Of course, if you wait till 10 cards, you'll exchange for more troops, 30 in fact. What else...right. For some reason, the developers deviated from a big issue, and that's the number of max players. RISK has always allowed for up to six people, but in Factions, there is only five, just as there are five factions in the storyline. Truthfully, it would have been nice to see a sixth faction they made up (who knows...evil trees? Wouldn't be much of a stretch, the other factions are yetis, humans, robots, zombies, and kitties. no joke) so there would have been six players max for normal games. Small side note, when you play regular games, either just against the AI or against human opponents, you play as one of the factions from the story.

- Troop "count": And the bad. Sometimes, this will be one of those games where you will have to "breathe. breathe. breathe." Give you an example. With an army of 63, I attacked an enemy territory of 12. Before I killed their last guy, my numbers had been reduced to 18. Let me repeat that. I lost over 40 troops killing off 12 guys. Suffice to say, it was a Pyrrhic victory, because I had to retreat and regroup, I was subsequently invaded and I lost. Oh, that made my day. It doesn't help when, instead of using the generic battle screen (where you can see your factions troops fighting the enemy's factions, killing each other based on the role of the dice), you use auto-battle, which CANNOT BE STOPPED [so if you are losing troops left and right, WHOOPS, SORRY, THERE GOES YOUR GRAND ARMY STRAIGHT DOWN THE TUBE]. This has happened before to me, quite often, where the game "evens" battles by reducing the stronger army. Having played the Shockwave version of RISK on PC, I had seen small doses of this programming, but never to this extent. What's worse is that this is not done to the AI players when they attack with significant numbers; even when they attack me with more more troops, they don't lose nearly as many troops as I have. Its enough to drive me mad sometimes, and its why I've reduced my score for the game. I mean, sure, yah, the AI is merciless (though sometimes only against the player and not to other AI factions), but this sort of programming is a sick, cruel joke. One thats not funny at all. So yes. Big point killer there. Bad EA, bad!

- Multiplayer: I only played online once, and that wasn't that fun. Only one guy talked, but its possible the rest of us were talking but we couldn't be heard. So not only was the headset audio not working, but the guy talking was a total jerk. Hopefully there are decent players online, because really. RISK is a gentleman's game, much like Chess. If you can't play online, that's fine, you can do system link, or multiple players on one screen, and everyone takes turns.

The reason I bought this game was because, well, let's face it. Where are you going to find people who still play RISK? None of my friends who played it back in the day are into it anymore, so naturally, one has to resort to e-versions where they play against AI opponents. So, if you are a RISK fan, yes I recommend RISK: Factions. Despite the...annoying (not sure annoying is a strong enough word) antics of the programming where you can lose dozens of troops just killing a small handful of enemy troops...yes, this game is fun. Its a nice departure from games where you don't have to think as much (or maybe that's just me).

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 11/22/10

Game Release: RISK: Factions (US, 06/23/10)

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