Thursday, July 22, 2010

Review: RISK Factions

I'll be honest, I'm not a huge boardgame fanatic. I love boardgaming, but I rarely ever take a chance to play any real boardgames outside of the usual round of Monopoly or Chess. Before I played this game I had only tried RISK once, and my thoughts on that was "so-so", so it might seem strange that I took my time to get a hold of the beefed up version on Xbox Live Arcade based on the 2008 ruleset to increase the speed of the game. My final verdict? Well, read on to find out.

Developed by Stainless Games & Powerhouse Animation Stud. Inc.
Published by Electronic Arts
Platform: 360XBLA (Reviewed on 360XBLA)

Stainless Games might be best known as the creators of the original two Carmageddon games as well as last years Magic The Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalker but they have also developed a whole lot of Xbox Live Arcade versions of classic games like Centipede and Missile Command, to see them taking on a boardgame is a refreshing change that I think was needed, as the developers joy and devotion truly shines through in this title. The animation is created by the amazing Powerhouse Animation who also contributed to creating the visuals in the Penny Arcade game and many of the employees worked on some great film animation including Disney's The Hunchback in Notre Dame and Titan A.E., all of which had, and still has, glorious visuals. The visuals in RISK: Factions are just as great, charming and funny as they need to be.

The music in the game is nothing truly special, but it's good enough to give you that warzone feeling while you're throwing undead bones at the face of a icicle tossing yetis, not to mention that the voice acting and sound effects themselves are great and fitting when your cat hurls a hairball at the robot heading towards afghanistan... Wait a second, undead bones, yetis, hairballs and robots? Truly this is the wrong game, RISK is about little army men and cannons walking across a huge map of the world right? Well yes, RISK: Classic certainly is, but RISK: Factions takes a different approach to the nations of the world. There are five factions led by their respective leader. The humans led by General McGutterpants, the undead led by Colonel Von Stiffenberg, the cats led by Generalissmo Meow, the yetis led by His Excelency, Gary and last but certainly not least there's the robots led by Commendant Sixfour. Crazy? Yes, but awesome in every meaning of the word. And for those who doesn't like the concept of awesome there's the RISK: Classic option to the left every time you create a custom game.
The story in the game is divided into five campaigns focusing on the five factions, they're pretty short but they unlock new maps for the custom game mode in order to lengthen the already long replay value you'll get out of the game. The story is told inbetween animated cutscenes filled with humour and great animation, as mentioned earlier. The gameplay itself is reminiscent of the 2008 ruleset and allows you to customize the ammount of players from 3 to 5 and the rules of winning. The controls are simple and are always explained on screen so that you won't forget them or need to instruct every new player how to control his troops, the only thing a little frustrating about the controls might be the usage of the A and B buttons to increase or decrease numbers while moving rather than using the analog stick, but that's a tiny issue and won't ruin the experience.

However the game pretty much requires you to play with friends as playing against the computer grows tiresome faster than expected, although there is normal online play over Xbox Live available to support that need in case you don't want to hot seat your battles. The replay value of the game is pretty high though, I managed to spend 5-6 hours in custom gaming only on my first night with the game and I have no intention of stopping any time soon. My zombies will conquer the world over and over again until they release something more awesome as DLC. Maybe aliens or fairies would to that job, hmm...
If you like RISK or any kind of turn based war game I highly recommend RISK: Factions, it's good fun for all ages and comes at a cheap price, what's not to like?

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