Giant Bomb Review

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RISK: Factions Review

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  • XBGS

EA and Stainless Games went ahead and made Risk completely crazy, and Risk: Factions is ultimately better for it.

If you didn't know any better, you might see a game like Risk: Factions and assume it came from videogame crack dealer PopCap Games. After all, it's got the simple yet hopelessly addicting gameplay, colorful visuals, bizarre characters, and goofball charm of a typical PopCap release. And that is something of a compliment to EA and developer Stainless Games, which are the actual brains behind this reworking of the boardgame classic. That this update can invoke the pleasant feelings PopCap games usually tend to speaks highly of its design, and that it still feels like honest-to-God Risk speaks even higher.
 
Right off the bat, you'll undoubtedly want to know one thing: Can I just play Risk? Yes, you can. The classic strategy boardgame, with its map of the world, numbered units, and dice-rolling attacks are all here in more-or-less untouched fashion. If you like your Risk dry as a corpse in the desert, then you will find precisely what you're looking for here.
 

 Risk just got a whole mess weirder.
But what if you are looking for a bit more in the way of whimsy in your Risk gaming? Factions has you covered. The Factions side of the game takes the core gameplay of Risk, and adds something like a billion new elements to it. Apart from several new maps, all with unique terrain, you'll also find yourself with various objectives and specialized weapons scattered all over the place. All of these revolve specifically around control of specific terrain. For instance, if you control the entirety of the terrain on which the “temple” weapon is built, and you're able to hold onto it, you can actually convert an enemy space on the board to your own, armies and all. Or, if you control the “dam” portion of the map, you can flood an entire continent and remove all enemy armies from it.
 
Acquiring these weapons, as well as hitting other objectives on the board (controlling specific continents, invading a certain number of territories in a single turn, etc.), give you badges that not only give you new bonus abilities (like being able to move multiple armies around before the end of your turn, or getting an extra dice to roll with when attacking), but if you collect three of them, you win the game, flat-out.
 
That little wrinkle there is actually what turns Risk: Factions from a sometimes plodding game to a frequently hectic one. People go balls-out trying to get those objectives filled, because it's a much quicker way to end the game than arduously capturing every territory on the map.
 
All the objectives and weapons and bonuses and whatnot are a nice boost to the standard Risk gameplay, though there are times when I wish the game had perhaps focused a bit more on a few specific objectives rather than the plethora of sometimes half-baked ones that appear here. It's often difficult to keep track of all the different things you can be capturing on larger maps, and it's incredibly easy to lose track for just a hair long enough for your opponents to trounce you without you ever realizing it.
 
That all comes with practice, of course, and you'll get a good bit of it in the game's meager single-player campaign, which is really more of a training mode than anything else. Here, you'll learn about the game's five factions--the humans, zombies, robots, yeti, and, my personal favorite, the kitties, led by the vile, Hugo Chavez-esque Generalissimo Meow—and the core mechanics of the game as you're treated to cute, mildly amusing cutscenes of each faction's generals setting about warring with one another. The cartoon graphics are quite adorable, especially the little in-game animations of various soldiers on either side killing the living hell out of each other with each dice roll.
 
 Viva la Purrrrrrevolucion!
Ultimately though, this is a multiplayer-focused game. You're meant to go online and play against friends and strangers, and should you do so, you'll find ample competition. Online play works pretty smoothly, though I did run into some issues with the game freezing when players dropped out of the game, especially if it's the host. Also, let it be known that in games against random players, you'll probably see a lot of people drop out. This is a game that requires some significant time investment, and when people sense they're going to lose, they'll jump ship in a heartbeat. They have to concede the loss if they do, but once they're out of the game, their territories just kind of sit there on the map, waiting to be taken over. No AI players take over or anything. So, all things considered, you're probably best served focusing on playing with people you know.
 
Like any other boardgame that's made an appearance on Xbox Live, Risk: Factions is going to primarily be appealing to those who like the game on which it's based, regardless of all the fancy upgrades added to the mix. You either think rolling dice and taking over various countries is a lot of fun, or you don't. For my money (in this case, $10 on Xbox Live Marketplace), I do enjoy me some Risk, and Factions is well worth the price, no matter how you choose to play.   Alex Navarro on Google+
103 Comments
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Edited by JTMosh

I'll probably pick this up when it goes on sale. Not a huge fan of risk but after the quick look I think it could be a lot of fun.

Posted by buzz_killington

No way, Alex Navarro all up in this joint!

Posted by fwylo

RIIIIISK

Posted by FelixCulpa

Was thinking that too buzz_killington! 

Posted by jkz

Allleexxx!!!! 
  
And yeah, Risk: Factions is awesome.

Posted by NoXious

Howdy Alex!

Posted by Godlovesugly

They even pre-empted the score on the box art. Spooky.

Posted by Fierrze

Nice review and the pic is awesome

Posted by ImperiousRix

Hell yeah, an Alex Navarro review! 
This game is certainly tempting.  I love Risk AND turn-based strategy games that borrow from it.  If it won't take up too much memory on my harddrive, I'll have no problem downloading this one.

Posted by JJOR64

I've never played Risk, but I've heard great things about it.  Maybe I will try the trail for this game.

Posted by modeps

Nice to see a solid Risk game finally coming out.

Posted by Haethos

big rigs guy!

Posted by Hockeymask27

The Quick look sold me!

Posted by 2Crisis

general meow

Posted by ChristianCastillo

cool, might check this out

Posted by HellBrendy

Tried the demo, but behind all those cool new stuff it felt a bit weak. And I suck at RISK as well.

Posted by Afroman269

Nice review Alex. I picked up this game as soon as I saw the quicklook. This shit is addicting.

Edited by ka_tet19

Woot! this game looks like a good twist on the formula

Posted by omgwtfbbq

Sounds cool.

Posted by DevWil

another alex review? 
 
madness.

Posted by Lakus

I had never played RISK before and I love games with numbers and the impending promise of utter and sheer destruction of my enemies. So when I saw RISK Factions on Xbox Live I was quite literally smiling off my hinges. My jaw dislocated and it´s still not a´ok. But anyway. I bought RISK and I loved it. I got demolished in the Classic mode, but I am a beast in the new mode. 
 
Risk <3 XOXO

Posted by punkxblaze

Alex reviewing a GOOD game? What witchcraft is this?!

Posted by Marz

Alex writing reviews again?  

Posted by A_Dog

I really want this game.

Posted by Kohe321

Great review.

Posted by Damian

Hey, I like Risk ... and whimsy! 

Posted by RanchLizard

Alex?!  Cool!

Posted by AdMordem

So I take it Alex is reviewing everything he touches?

Posted by Wright

The more alex navarro, the better!

Posted by kingofpeanuts

Nice review

Posted by Sweep

Played some of this last night. Nice artwork, still a little too slow for me though, especially when waiting for AI teams to make their decisions. 
 
The fights at the bottom of the screen are pretty fun to watch though. I also love the idea of an army of zombies taking over the world.

Moderator
Edited by I_love_Eva_Braun

Great review and the game is really awesome.Hope to see some video reviews from Alex soon

Posted by EvGar

Always looked cool!

Posted by Krystal_Sackful

I really want to play this.

Posted by A_Wet_Shamwow

looks like i might get this

Posted by RenMcKormack

Yay Alex Navarro the gang is all here. 
 
Also, RISK FACTIONS RULES

Posted by thisironlung

Alex, 
give me the rundown of every TV guide in the country.
Do not review games.

Posted by Gav47

Thats two reviews by Alex, hmmm... 

Posted by Phyreball

Might wanna edit the headline from Stainless Steel Studios to  Stainless Games.  Stainless Steel Studios closed a while ago.

Posted by AlwaysAngry

DEWUODNEWIQDNEWQIDNEOPQWDEQDEWQ 
 
IT'S ALEX! 
 
NEWODNEWOQDNEWQPDEQIODBEWQ

Posted by C_Rakestraw

Well, I'm sold. Just another game to add to the ever increasing pile of games I'm going to buy upon getting a 360.

Posted by MrMuscle

Thought it looked kinda fun.
Online
Posted by JeffGoldblum

The most exciting part of this review is that Alex wrote it! 
More Screened/Giantbomb crossover! DO IT!

Posted by Vorbis

Alex needs his own cartoon.

Posted by Karmann

Alex Navarro Review!!! Awesome!!!

Edited by Scrumdidlyumptious

I knew Alex would creep his way in here. About time.

Online
Posted by jonnyboy

The quick look for this really made me think about getting this. Might pick it up tomorrow.

Posted by Mordebir

ALEX IS BACK!

Posted by mightymightyme

I would love to buy it, if I hadn't just dropped a bunch of money on that inventory sale they had over the last couple weeks.

Posted by haggis

Interesting.

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