|Playstation > Whats New > PlayStation Reviews > Staff Review|
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|Distributor:||Hasbro Interactive||1-8 Player|
|Game Type:||Strategy||Memory Card|
|Review Date:||May 1998||Mouse
Setting the Scene
RISK is a well-known and extremely popular board game of global conquest set in the 17th Century. The basic idea is that you have a world map split up into various territories, each player starts with a number of troops with which they must attempt to increase the number of territories they own. The more territories a player controls the more troops they get, the more troops they get the more territories they can take, and so on. Players use little plastic tokens to represent the number of battalions they control, an infantryman represents one battalion, a horseman represents 5 and a cannon represents 10. Each player uses a set of dice to determine the outcome of combat, and to the victor goes the spoils. A pretty basic premise but it lends itself to highly complex strategies that a player develops after years of experience. RISK has been turned into multiple computer game versions over the years. Most of these previous versions have simply been computerized versions of the original. This situation has just changed.
From the description above it's pretty obvious which genre RISK belongs in. RISK is a turn based strategy war game and even though the idea is based on an existing board game it works well on the Playstation. Luckily Hasbro Interactive has decided to add some extra features, taking it a step beyond the traditional board game into a whole new realm of war game.
Real time strategy games lend themselves well to colourful, animated graphics, first person shooters and racing games lend themselves well to textured polygons flying around the screen at high speeds, a turn based strategy game doesn't really lend itself well to flashy graphics, but RISK does what it can. While pretty basic in its' presentation RISK has a few nice features that aren't really necessary but add some extra texture to the gameplay. The most impressive element being the maps that the game takes place on which are textured with detailed terrain including mountains, plains, desert, and arctic areas. Another spectacular element in the graphical presentation is the FMV you see when the battles unfold. There seems to be a different FMV depending on the number of troops involved in the battle and the type of battle being fought. Apart from the FMV, there are a few little animated touches (burning or waving flags), the screen is well laid out and easy to look at and the graphics don't distract from the gameplay, and after all that's what we're here for, aren't we?
Sounds and Effects
Again, not much here to mention. The sound in the Classic RISK game is rather sparse but effective. It includes a wonderful burning flag noise and a nice punchy sound for the troupe placements, non-distracting background music and the usual menu effects. The sound does pick up a bit in the Ultimate game mode including many more special effects noises for the various battle scenarios (cannons going off, horses galloping, hidden power-ups and stuff). As it stands, all the sounds belong where they are and do not intrude into the game in any way. The background music changes depending on the mode of game and map you are playing and never becomes annoying or boring which means it has done it job but it's really nothing to write home about.
This is where this game really shines. When a game keeps you and 3 friends up until 4am in the morning, when eating, sleeping and working suffer, when you lose all concept of time and space while playing you're onto a real winner. Why is it so addictive? If you're a fan of the board game you'll realize fairly quickly that the Standard RISK game that is included as part of the package is an excellent representation of the original. The standard game duplicates the playability of the board game exactly, you can play with up to 4 human and up to 4 computer opponents (or any combination of humans and computer players). You still roll dice to determine combat outcomes, you still gain re-enforcement cards when you take a territory and you still have an enormous amount of fun betraying your friends for you own personal gain. However, if this was all that was involved in the Playstation version I couldn't possibly recommend the game, luckily for us, there's more, a lot more. Which brings us to Ultimate RISK, a variation of the basic game with options and rule variants that make me wonder how the game can be called RISK at all. The options available, excellent presentation and gameplay make Ultimate RISK a completely different (and immensely better) game. Ultimate RISK takes the basic game and turns it into a option rich and complex strategic war game while still retaining the simplicity and charm that makes the original such an addictive time sucker. While the original game only allows you to play on a whole world map, Ultimate RISK allows players to place their initial troops on the board (depending on which startup option is selected) on one of four maps. The World c1800, Asia c1800, Europe c1797 and North America c1800, each map give you the chance to try different strategies and tactics. Other options include: * the ability to customise turn length (unlimited, 2,3,4,5 or 6 minutes) * random/player determination of initial territories * random/player placement of initial troops * fixed or increasing sets for reinforcements * different map views - political, continent or hotspot * AI difficulty level (easy, medium or hard) * Power Ups (on/off) But that's not all. Other rules variants have been introduced to Ultimate RISK to make it more interesting. One new feature is use of Rebels. Rebels are troops that are not controlled by any player and generally make a menace of themselves, random events and disasters can also kill off your troops or turn them into rebel scum, in which case they will happily turn around and attack you. To assist you in your struggles you also have the ability to hire and train generals to command your armies. If you have a general with your army you have a better chance of winning battles, as you win battles your generals also increase in skill, thus making it easier to win battles and so on. Along with generals, you can build forts to defend your territories, each fort adds defensive points to your territory making it harder to capture. In Ultimate RISK each player can assign a territory to be their Capital, the Capital city has a huge defensive bonus but if you lose your capital you are out of the game and all your troops become rebels. During the game you have the ability to form alliances (unbreakable, under any circumstances) with your enemies for an agreed number of turns, these alliances can prove to be quite valuable while trying to secure your borders against the invading hordes. While battles in standard RISK are a matter of rolling dice and comparing the numbers, Ultimate RISK presents a new twist by allowing the player to choose a tactic card to use during play. An example may be 'defend left flank' or 'surprise attack'. The presence of a general in your force will give you better option, as will the size of your army (which will also effect the chance of success). During a battle you can choose to retreat or surrender to the invading force, this maneuver may cause your troops to be captured by the enemy, and become Prisoners of War. In future turns you have the chance to exchange prisoners with the enemy, thus boosting your forces with a surprise reinforcement. Another great twist in the game is the ability to gain and use Power Ups, extra forts, super troops, booby traps, land slides, heros and super cannons all allow you to gain a temporary advantage over your enemy and add a new dimension to gameplay. Overall the gameplay of Ultimate RISK is a whole bunch of fun, as usual the more the merrier, get some friends around and the fun increases. While not a game for the serious war gamer, it will easily keep anyone with an interest in strategy games interested for a long time. RISK can be learnt in 10 minutes but will take a lifetime to master. The only criticism that could be aimed at the gameplay is that the AI is a bit stupid. I never managed to see a computer opponent behave as you'd expect a human. While they rarely make stupid decisions the computer opponents tend to be either too passive or too aggressive (usually the later). Don't let that be an obstacle to trying the game, as always, the most fun will be had with a few mates around, grab a controller each and make a few enemies out of them.
Value for Money
After playing RISK and Ultimate RISK for hours on end, days at a time, for far too long I still haven't come close to exploring the full variation of options available. Every game of RISK is different, add a few human players and the replay value increases exponentially.
a fan of the original board game I am a pretty easy sell. If you like
RISK, get this game, if you like strategy war games, get this game, if
you like having fun with a few friends, get this game.
I call games like RISK a 'Time Black Hole' because they suck time, you'll start playing one evening and before you realise it you should have been in bed for the last 8 hours dreaming of electric sheep and wondering where your life has gone.
is an extremely addictive strategy oriented game with a load of options
and adjustable gameplay features.
This game can definitely absorb a good amount of your time and brain processing power. A typical game of Ultimate RISK with a few players and all of the computer opponents enabled could take a few days to complete! Good thing there is a save feature...
I liked the fact that the game was so flexible with the configuration options. You can easily customize each outing to give you a fresh new game each time you play. The computer AI is no slouch either...in hard mode I was continually impressed with the moves that it executed...for the most part.
If you love strategy games, especially those that let you include up to eight human players with, then get RISK. It translates incredibly well from a board to console game and should provide you with a good challenge and a nice value for your gaming dollar.