jabbawocky's RISK: Factions (Xbox 360 Games Store) review

A Risky Purchase


Before the ages of electronic entertainment (video games more specifically) board games were the number one source of social gaming. Monopoly, Snakes and Ladder and Cludo are only a few of the famous table top games that were once common is households.  Of course one of the downsides of these games were that they took ages to set up, ages to play and ages to put away. Then there was the whole element that if certain pieces were lost then the game was unplayable. Transferring board games to video format seems a logical step, after all it eliminates the lengthy set up and tidy away. Plus you never lose the pieces. Yet something never feels right about playing them on a TV screen.
 
Risk: Factions is the latest attempt to bring the strategy world domination board game into our homes via game console.  Within this version two sets of rules exist. The original rules that by far are the simplest but takes the longest to play and the 2008 revision rules that offers a more fast paced game but is harder to get your head around. Two games modes are available for play upon purchase.
 
First is the single player campaign. This mode allows the player to attempt five different mission with each proceeding level containing more of a challenge than before.  Each mission has one of the five different aforementioned factions (Humans, Cats, Robots, Zombies and Yetis) to control where you try to defeat ever increasing numbers. In this mode you can only play with the 2008 version of the rules which is just as well since later levels are insanely hard to win by domination.  Although the in-between cut scenes explaining the missions are quite entertaining the short length of the campaign and infuriating difficult (to be explained later) makes the mode hard to recommend this game for this feature.
 
The second mode is your basic custom set up to be played locally or online. You choose Classic or 2008 rules and play with up to four other teams on the map of your choice. This mode only benefits if you have other people to play with, more so if the game is local. The problem that comes with playing board games over the internet is that you lose the human interaction that makes playing them so satisfying. The loss of this (especially in Risk due to its highly competitive set up) means it loses a lot of charm. Also the length of this game and frustration that come with any game played on dice rolls means it is highly likely users will quit out mid game. One of the pros however of an online game is the secrecy of allies that can form during games. One of the best elements of Risk is making and breaking alliances that can be done in true secrecy thanks to the online messaging systems and private chat. Other than that however and the game is just an electronic version of the board version without a true social aspect.
 
It is also worth noting that you should never trust dice rolls when the CPU is playing. Despite it meaning to replicate the actual chance of rolling ones to sixes the CPU teams thrown an extraordinary amount of high numbers and it is not uncommon for a small number of troops to fend off near impossible numbers.
 
All in all if you have friends to play this with its maybe worth your time if you will get the use out of it. Then again some actual physical copies of Risk cost a lot less than the 800 points of MS Points you would have to spend in the process to own this. A fun game but by no means a must own title from Hasbro and EA.
 

 
7 Comments
Posted by Kyle

What world do you live in that you could buy a physical copy of Risk for less than ten dollars?

Edited by Jabbawocky
@Kyle:  A world with Ebay and Amazon. In fairness I know that some versions of the game do cost a lot more than what the XBLA version would but there are also versions that are cheaper. My main gripe though was never with the cost, that was only a side note, I feel board games loose a lot of their charm in being played over the internet which is this games primary medium.
Posted by Kyle
@Jabbawocky:  I would disagree. I feel like the points you make for the speed and ease of video board games (no set up, etc) outweigh the negatives aspects. Personal taste, I suppose.
 
But I do have to say that I don't feel at all like the AI cheats its dice rolls. That's just me.
Posted by EightBitShik

I did not have a problem with the review I was just shocked at how low you rated the game despite not having too much distaste for the game.

Posted by Jabbawocky
@EightBitShik:  I gave it basically what I consider an average score. For me a 2.5/5 is basically is not a bad game but not a particularlly good one either.
Edited by dumblogic

You find that secret alliances make the game better?  If the two people that are playing a secret alliance have any intelligence, they will be able to win every game, without contest.  This part of it is actually one of my big minuses of the game.  I have been playing this game online a good bit over the last few weeks, and there is nothing more annoying to me than when I am in a game that I am dominating, only to realize that the 2 remaining players are working together, and one of the players uses all of his troops to fend me off, while he lets his partner take all of his countries in order to get a 3 objective win. 

Posted by Jabbawocky
@dumblogic:  Well alliances in the sense that people work together as one army t let one user win are cheap because he essentially has double the power, alliances I'm talking about are the ones that only last while enemies remain and once they are down in number or gone then they turn on each other.

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