Google+   Facebook button  Twitter button 
3DS | DS | PS3 | PS4 | PSP | VITA | WII | WIIU | X360 | XB1 | All

RISK: Factions (Xbox 360) artwork

RISK: Factions (Xbox 360) review


"The "Factions" mode adds a few wrinkles to that classic formula. The maps that you'll explore are different, with special new attractions that give particular territories new value. For example, it's possible to lay siege to an island temple. Doing so means that during each turn that you hold that fortified position, you can choose a single one of your opponent's territories to convert to your own (along with any troops who happen to be stationed there). Just imagine the possibilities. Whoever has that temple has tremendous power, but the temple grounds are obviously going to be under constant attack."



My sister stood up from the table, lifted the game board and spun it sideways. Plastic pieces fell all over the place. They scattered across the polished oak surface, along the chairs and even along the plush gray carpet. Satisfied with the mess that she had made, my sister stalked off to her bedroom without saying another word. Clearly she had grown tired of playing RISK with me.

The year was 1996, give or take a Christmas, and that was not to be my last time playing the role of the victory who didn't get to watch the final moments of the game because his opponent felt that wiping the board clean was better than surrendering to global domination. There's something about playing the game with me that brings out the worst in people, I guess. Maybe it's the fact that I usually win.

Online is a different story, though. Thanks to the Internet and Xbox LIVE, I can find worthy opponents who make me fight for every small victory. If I take over a continent while playing against a stranger, I know that I've done so not because I selected an opponent without a mind for battle, but because I was able to make the most of my position and that was enough to destroy some worthy opponents. Nearly everyone who I go up against in RISK: Factions is something like me. I'd be willing to bet that a few of those faceless generals have watched in horror as their sisters lifted game boards not unlike my own and sent massive armies showering to the floor.

RISK: Factions doesn't represent the first time that the classic board game has come to a video game platform. It's merely the first time that I've had the opportunity for some hands-on time with the results. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I figured that at the very least I would find a faithful representation of the board game I love but seldom have the opportunity to play. For the most part, I was right. The digital update allows the player to dive right into the game he loves--here known as the "Classic" mode--or that same player can try the "Factions" mode. Local multi-player options exist, or the player can go online and seek out a match with as many as four other strategists. In other words, nothing obvious is missing.

"Classic" mode plays in the manner that veterans would expect: players are provided territories across a map of the world and are instructed to take control of the entire world map. Bonuses are awarded for securing entire continents, plus the player is allowed to draw cards at the end of each turn in which an enemy territory is successfully captured. The early portion of the game is basically devoted to simple skirmishes to build up a potential army and to carve out a defensible position, while later turns force desperate gambles that make it easy to see why RISK was given the name it was given.

The "Factions" mode adds a few wrinkles to that classic formula. The maps that you'll explore are different, with special new attractions that give particular territories new value. For example, it's possible to lay siege to an island temple. Doing so means that during each turn that you hold that fortified position, you can choose a single one of your opponent's territories to convert to your own (along with any troops who happen to be stationed there). Just imagine the possibilities. Whoever has that temple has tremendous power, but the temple grounds are obviously going to be under constant attack. Other changes include bases that award additional points, objectives that can be completed to win badges (claim three badges while you maintain control of your base and you're the winner) and hazards such as volcanoes and dams that can obliterate all but a token military presence in their area of impact.

While the new changes are nice--and thankfully quite optional--the most that they really do is make RISK feel a little bit more like a classic computer strategy title. You might enjoy playing with the new rules and completing the single-player campaign, but I wasn't particularly wowed by the experience. There are only a few brief maps--easily won--and some cute little cartoon segments between each new challenge. Those segments depict cats, yetis, zombies, robots and humans battling for control of the world, but the personality doesn't really go any further than the cutscenes, character portraits and army names. A decent player shouldn't have much trouble breezing through everything that the "Factions" mode has to offer the offline player in a couple of hours, tops. Clearly, the game was meant to be played with others.

When it comes to rating a game's performance in that regard, though, I have to admit that there's not a whole lot to say. Each match feels unique because you're always going up against new players. Randomized elements--such as piece placement--ensure that you have to formulate a new strategy every time you play. The biggest question mark, though, seems to be your luck when drawing cards or rolling dice. I've played some days where I never got a match that I could trade in for troops unless I drew a total of five cards. All of my opponents routinely drew three cards and then immediately were able to recruit armies. That kind of sucked. My dice rolls went no better. You can check a menu to track how many times you've rolled each number, but it hardly matters if you roll a 4 or a 5 when your opponent seems to constantly role those numbers or better. I once attacked my opponents something like thirty times and literally won two or three of those times. Battles are supposed to be about statistics and a little bit about luck, but I swear that the game has a sense for the dramatic.

"Wouldn't it be funny?" I'll ask myself while watching my opponents duke it out, "if the guy who is using 30 units to attack the territory that is defended by only 1 unit lost most of his troops?" And of course it'll happen. "Wouldn't it be suspenseful," I ask myself, "if the guy who is about out of the game and only has 3 units somehow managed to make a comeback after using that tiny group of soldiers to wipe out something like 15 enemy armies?" And of course... it'll happen. I'm not sure if that's the result of intentional coding, but it seems to be. The good news is that if you're playing online with other human players, you're all facing the same handicaps.

RISK has always been a terrific game when it is played with the right people. What I like about RISK: Factions on Xbox LIVE is that you're practically guaranteed to be playing with the right people. No one joins an online match just because you begged him or her to play. If someone gets pissed off and leaves early, you get to enjoy the thrill of victory without worrying about picking plastic pieces out of the carpet and no one has to look like a sore loser. Everybody wins. Care for a match?

Rating: 8/10

honestgamer's avatar
Staff review by Jason Venter (June 29, 2010)

Jason Venter founded HonestGamers in 1998, and since then has written hundreds of reviews as the site's editor-in-chief. He also is a prolific freelancer with game reviews, articles and fiction available around the Internet.

More Reviews by Jason Venter
Shovel Knight (Wii U) artwork
Shovel Knight (Wii U)

An attempt to revive old school sensibilities that works much better than similar efforts often do.
ReignMaker (PC) artwork
ReignMaker (PC)

It's a real shame the quality of the hybrid gameplay doesn't match the genius of the game's clever title.
Watch Dogs (Xbox One) artwork
Watch Dogs (Xbox One)

Someone at Ubisoft wants you to think long and hard about the hidden costs of a connected society.

Feedback

If you enjoyed this RISK: Factions review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!

board icon
Ben posted July 09, 2010:

...not to be my last time playing the role of the victory

"victor"?

That typo aside, I plan to give some more detailed feedback soon-ish. In short, I liked your review.


Edit: I don't have a lot of time right now, so I'm going to keep things pretty brief. This was a very solid review. I know nothing about Risk, yet I didn't feel too alienated and still got a positive vibe from you. Of course, the drawback is that I don't know how the actual game of Risk plays, but that's not really your fault, as you already had in mind the type of audience you wanted to speak to (people who were familiar with Risk).

You must be signed into an HonestGamers user account to leave feedback on this review.

Info | Help | Privacy Policy | Contact | Advertise | Links

eXTReMe Tracker
© 1998-2014 HonestGamers
None of the material contained within this site may be reproduced in any conceivable fashion without permission from the author(s) of said material. This site is not sponsored or endorsed by Nintendo, Sega, Sony, Microsoft, or any other such party. RISK: Factions is a registered trademark of its copyright holder. This site makes no claim to RISK: Factions, its characters, screenshots, artwork, music, or any intellectual property contained within. Opinions expressed on this site do not necessarily represent the opinion of site staff or sponsors.