Remember when a game of Risk took nearly three hours or more? Those days are over.
EA Play has released Risk: Factions on Xbox Live for 800 MS Points. The game is everything you want from Risk, including the original version, but the new version has a bit of a twist.
The gameplay is essentially the same as the original game. It has everything intact, including the need to conquer all the land you can and take over bases. Sure it's not based in the early part of history (at least the new version), but it's got some interesting new details that make it much better.
The first thing you will notice is that the game won't take you three hours to complete. Much like the revamped XBLA game Settlers of Catan, Risk: Factions does its best to balance everything that made Risk great, but also throws in a faster gameplay element. Sure this varies when you switch from computer players (that aren't quite as decisive, but very cunning), but when you're playing the campaign you're looking at no longer than 45 minutes to an hour per board. At E3 this year the developers were wearing this achievement like a badge of honor, and rightfully so. Having the ability to get through a single Risk game in such a short amount of time certainly encourages two things:
1. To keep playing.
2. To try the online component.
Making someone, without them thinking about it, play a game again says a lot about how interesting the game can get and how long the game can keep a gamer's interest. All good games reach out and grab gamers and refuse to let them go. That was the first indication that this game was on the upward swing for entertainment.
The online component is something you will willingly seek once your offline experience is wrapped up (3-5 hours for offline at most). The online experience gives you a wonderful head-to-head with actual human players, which provides certainly an endless amount of time. I don't have to tell you how great it is to play online, but it's a treat. Why? Well, let me explain about the gameplay in general for Risk: Factions.
Aside from the time of play and online experience, the game brings some interesting things.
First, the game provides you with a storyline. No, it's not a historical storyline, rather it's a goofy-ass storyline about war gone terribly wrong. You start off as a hard-nosed general that has completely bored himself to death while waiting for war to happen. Thankfully, his faithful dog decides to start some (bleep) with communistic cats that aren't very forgiving after the dog aims a small explosive shell towards their camp. So, as it starts out it's the general versus some commie cats. Once you beat that level the story progresses and another party is added to the group, robots. After the robots march forward then the zombies show up. You have up to five different groups going against you by the end of the campaign; all of them brilliantly, and stupidly, placed into a somewhat cohesive, family-friendly storyline.
Not enough? Well, there is more.
What makes this game even deeper is that you now have to not only take over other bases and territories, but you have to gain certain achievements along the way to seal the deal. For example, you might have to take over all the communication satellites that are strategically placed along the board. Another example is that you have might have to take over at least two bases. There is a mixed bag of achievements that you have to land in order to win; this makes the game deeper and more strategically interesting. This is what will take all the non-Risk fans and turn them into Risk addicts.
More importantly, this is what EA Play said would be another huge deal and they delivered.
Want even more? Add to all of these things the ability to add more soldiers on spaces through award systems. When you achieve certain things you are awarded certain things. For example, you can win an airport to place on property, which will allow you to fly to far away lands and attack people. Generally you're stuck on borders, but not with an airport.
Another example of achievements is being able to use what's on the map to your advantage. For example, you can set up shop on both sides of a dam and flood your opponent's soldiers if they're residing in the dam's path. So, if your opponent has '8' on one of the regretful pieces of land in the path of the dam, '7' of those poor soldiers won't survive the water. The board is alive in Risk: Factions.
Risk: Factions is amazingly entertaining. For a game that has been around for such a long time, it now is revitalized thanks to so much depth and entertainment from EA Play. There's so much to love about how this game turned out and little to dislike. The fact that they include the original Risk game makes it even better to love.
So, with all this said is there anything to not like about this game? I really wish the offline mode was longer. I'm not a huge fan of a gaming built more for online than offline (call me old school). 3-5 hours of offline play is not enough for me, especially after the story that was set up. I want more! That's my only knock, as the price is reasonable (800 MS Points) for what you do get.