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Classic Game Review: Risk Factions (XBox 360)

Classic Game Review: Risk Factions (XBox 360)
4.5
Game Name: Risk: Factions
Platforms: XBOX360/PS3/Steam
Publisher(s): Electronic Arts
Developer(s): Stainless Games
Genre(s): Strategy
Release Date: June 2010
ESRB Rating: E(10+) - Animated Blood, Cartoon Violence, Crude Humor

Sometimes war doesn’t have to be as brutal as it seems, maybe all it needs is some kooky remodeling.

Nearly everybody has played the iconic Hasbro game, Risk at some point. The game is a ruthless game that pits friends against friends and family members alike in a time-wasting euphoria in the ultimate goal of world domination.

Now lets add the advancements of technology and put war in the hands of a video game controller.

Like the board game that serves as inspiration, Risk: Factions is all about the luck of the dice roll. The game still requires strategic wits and logic planning in order to succeed in your endeavors. Developer, Stainless Games, added some kid-friendly cartoonish spunk, along with multiple features to help speed up the games, but ultimately it still comes down to biting your tongue and rolling the dice in hopes of success in your attack (or defense depending on who you ask).

Risk: Factions takes the stale board game with the plastic cavalry and thrusts it into the modern tech era with a splash of comic strip cartoony flair. Instead of leading boring shapes representing Napoleonic troops around a map of the real world, you fight in a fantasy earth that contains 5 unique troop types: lunatic humans, laser loving robots, ravenous zombies, furball-hacking cats and hairy yetis.

Each of the troops are also head by a unique “commanding boss”, who is both lunatic and ferric in their own way.
Humans: General Willian P. “Fatty” McGutterpants
Cats: Generalissimo Meow
Robots: Commandant SixFour
Zombies: Colonel Claus Von Siffenberg
Yeti: His Excellency Gary

The game has single player and online modes of play (which includes local multiplayer for when you want to kick your friend’s butts). Single player campaign is divided into 5 chapters wherein each chapter will unlock one of the game’s five factions.

The campaigns playout a storyline that involves two or more factions at a time, starting off with Generalissimo Meow launching an attack on the Humans after a mortar is “accidentally” dropped on his country and McGutterpants refuses to apologize. The storyline is fairly comedical, based on how each factions responds to the actions of the other as the campaign evolves. Every time a new faction is introduced, it’s up to the player to determine if they are ultimately a friend or a foe.

The gameplay is much like that of classic Risk where you are in search of world domination, but there is now also an opportunity to play a match to win the game by completing certain objectives, such as taking over an enemy capital or conquering certain continents. This can cause you to strategize troop placement and battles a bit more than usual. It also can cause a match to end much faster due to only needing a few objectives rather than obtaining a whole map.

The game allows you to quick roll, which will just show as troop counts randomly change on both sides based on wins/losses/ties on dice rolls until either the defending country falls and is conquered by the attacking faction or both sides fall to 1 troop each and the battle is ended. If this is used, there is no way to stop the quick roll if you suddenly decide that you don’t want to attack anymore…it goes until one side wins or there is a stalemate.

Or there is a unique in game animated featurette that shows each faction fighting live with each side represented by a physical troops count equal to that of how many troops are in each country in the fight. They are overseen by their factions Commander/Boss who leads the attack (essentially throwing the dice). You can physically see how many dice each side uses, and what the rolls are. This helps a player decide to use more or less dice (depending on how many troops you have you can roll up to 4 dice as attack and 3 as defense) each roll sequence in the battle. Sometimes less is more and because rolls are random it can create intense finger biting moments.

The type of rolls to watch out for are called Overkills. While they result in some funny animated playouts (such as Generalissimo Meow unleashing a huge vomit hairball atop the enemy troops), they can be a huge battle ender for the side receiving the damage.

Overkills are awarded when players roll either two or three sixes. If a player rolls two sixes, he destroys twice as many units as he would normally. If a player rolls three sixes, he destroys all the opponent’s units in the current battle.

And did I mention that the dice are designed to be as unique as the factions. For example, the Cats dice is a yellow fuzzy style, while the zombies the a rotting grey type, and the yeti is a white fuzz fur style.

The upgraded map in Risk: Factions also has special placements scattered about, including capital cities, resources and buildings that give special abilities to the player who owns the country that contains it. These abilities include the ability to draft additional troops each turn during a deployment phase, or to have an additional move of troops across the map before the end of a turn. There are also at times a unique terrain feature added to the map, such as a volcano which can erupt randomly and kill most surrounding soldiers, or a temple which allows the player who captures it to convert any country of their choice to their ownership (including all their troops).

Each faction (or player) is represented by a specific color on the map indicating where their conquered countries are located and how many troops are located on each country. Unlike in the board game where each player takes a turn to pick where to place troops and which countries they want…this is randomly generated each match. Players only get to delegate the placement of additional troops during their deployment phase at the start of every turn.

Each player goes through a three tier phase system of deployment phase, attack phase and reassignment phase per turn. You can choose to do nothing in each phase if you can’t move or if you simply want to build up troops for a lethal attack.

Just as in the board game, there are cards/stars that awarded at the end  of a turn after a successful attack phase and those can be cashed in for additional placeable troops during the deployment phase. And you also will still receive troop bonuses for controlling entire continents.

Luckily, for those who are just wanting to play a classic game of Risk without all the cartoonish gibberish, the game has two play modes: Classic Mode or Factions Mode.

I found this game highly addictive, I found playing Risk as a board game exhausting as it could take hours to just complete one game, but having it on a console allowed for quick gameplay overall and faster action. The CPU run faction didn’t lag in their response and are just as ruthless as you could imagine. Single player campaign is not as simple as it might seem. It took me multiple times to meet the objectives or take over the map because the enemy factions always have unique tricks up their sleeve. It is an endless fun for one and all.

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