Published by Electronic Arts
Developed by Stainless Games
Platform: Xbox 360 (via Xbox Live Arcade)
RISK is one of the all-time classic board games. There have been several versions of the board game, as well as many different computerized adaptations. The latest of which is RISK: Factions on the Xbox Live Arcade.
RISK: Factions allows players to play either the classic RISK rules or the more recent 2008 rules. Factions also adds dynamic map features and five factions (humans, cats, robots, zombies, and yetis). Up to five players can participate at one time. Now let’s break things down into categories.
GRAPHICS: The maps are nice to look at and the user interface is easy to navigate. If you’re playing the Classic RISK mode, there isn’t much else for you to see. The Factions mode has cartoon portraits of each faction leader, as well as animated battles. The characters are nicely animated and very expressive, and the battles are quite entertaining when you aren’t cursing your luck with the dice. The single-player campaign has five missions and each mission has a cartoon introduction created by Powerhouse Animation Studios. The cartoons are well animated and are each rather funny to watch.
In all, the cartoons are great, and everything else is nice and simple. 8/10
SOUND: In the Classic mode, the sound is minimal. I think there’s some background music, and you get sound effects for the battles, but there isn’t much else. In the Factions mode, the dynamic map elements and the animated battles have some nice sound effects. The voice acting in the campaign cartoons is excellent. The voices fit the characters perfectly and do a lot to give them personality. I wish that the faction leaders talked during the actual game instead of being restricted to the cartoons, though. Hearing smack talk from Generalissimo Meow would make me so happy.
To sum up, the sound is bland in some parts, but excellent in others. For the cartoons alone, I give the sound 9/10.
GAMEPLAY: I could spend hours detailing all the rules and gameplay quirks. In the Help & Options menu there is a “How To Play” option that gives you a quick primer on both the Classic and Factions rules. If you’re new to RISK, read that and you’ll get caught up. Anyway, the controls are basic. It’s more or less point and click. As the game is a mix of strategy and chance, you will often find yourself poised to take over an entire continent, only to end up a few armies short by the time you reach the last territory. That is the frustrating part. But there is nothing sweeter than making a successful run and expanding your empire.
The gameplay is both simple and complex, as well as frustrating and oh so fun. 10/10
OVERALL: If you’re a fan of turn-based strategy, RISK: Factions is the game for you. At only 800 Microsoft Points ($10), you can’t get much better. 10/10