|System: X360||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Stainless Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Electronic Arts||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 23, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-5||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
To be fair, while the graphics take the game in the wrong direction, theyre well-done on a technical level. The animations truly come to life, and if you dont mind a layer of absurdity on top of your hardcore strategizing, they do provide a little bit of a break from the difficult game.
In the single-player mode, the cutscenes have some decent jokes in them (they remind us of the cutscenes from the DS game Squishy Tank), and while puking zombies may not fit with the overall theme of Risk, they are fun to watch. In the time we spent with the game, we noticed not a single technical hiccup, whether we were playing alone, locally with a friend, or online against other players. Also, the orchestral music sounds epic.
The one area in which Risk: Factions truly shines is local multiplayer. Once you get past the cutesy presentation, the download serves as both a re-creation of the board game (you can play classic Risk if you want) and a streamlined, improved version of the concept. One major improvement is the fast battle, which skips the dice-rolling and just tells you who wins. (Otherwise, even though this is a video game, you have to watch digital dice roll.)
Another improvement over classic Risk is that you no longer have to capture the whole world, which brings the total play time down to about 30 to 45 minutes per game. Instead, the goal is to accomplish three objectives (such as capturing a given continent, or invading a certain number of territories in a single turn) while holding on to your capital. This is similar to the mission version of the Risk board game, and especially when youre playing locally and can talk to your competitors to pass the time, it keeps the game from dragging on.
Also, thanks to the digital nature of video games, the developers were able to take some liberties with the maps. The classic map of the world is still available, of course, but there are also some new maps with interesting features. In one, you can control a dam and flood other players territory. In others, controlling various landmarks (missile silos, barracks) can improve your attack and defense odds.
In short, Risk: Factions is a serious but misguided attempt to bring the classic board game to the Xbox 360. For those who want it mainly for the local multiplayer, its not a terrible buy. But the single-player game is dreadful, and without voice support, the online games get boring in a hurry.
CCC Freelance Writer