As a kid, I liked playing Risk. Conquering territory, armies battling it out across the globe, trying to capture whole continents… I played games that lasted for hours and, win or lose, I came back for more. So when I saw that EA had transferred this classic game over to Facebook for free, I thought that I’d give it a try.
The first thing I noticed was that Risk Factions wasn’t just available for free on Facebook. Online versions are available on Xbox Live, PSN, or Steam for under $10. I couldn’t help but notice next that you aren’t limited to the human race. You can now play 5 factions – Human, Robot, Cat, Zombie, and Yeti factions each with their own special abilities to master. The Facebook release does seem to be limited to Human, Cat, and Zombie, although there are unlockables…
Gone are the days of free armies, as they now have to be produced and paid for in your base area. This tends to keep the classic Risk scenario of building hundreds of armies and setting them into an giant defensive front from happening. You can also produce weapons that add to dice rolls, add dice, or simply kill troops in the targeted province. These weapons vary with the different races and add a bit of needed spice into the old combat system, which is exactly the same 'roll the dice' affair that Risk has always used.
The designers of Risk Factions finally changed the one thing that all Risk players have become all-too-familiar with: the map. Oh, you can play on the original map if you really want to – but there are more. Each faction has a few new maps to play on, including new Earth maps like Europe or The Americas. These maps are set up so that there are “continents” that are controlled for additional troop deployments per turn, like the original. I was surprised that the new maps are fun and done well. They really add gameplay time to a game that can feel a bit stale after a few dozen runs on the same terrain.
Risk Factions takes all of the old Risk board game fun and ramps it up a notch. The only problem is that the core game is still Risk. If you didn’t like playing Risk, this game is not going to convert you. The added features and weapons are nice but you're still going to be adding and moving numbers representing armies while doing a whole lot of dice rolling. They have added catchy little animations for winning battles and deploying weapons but they tire quickly as you just want to move though the game as fast as possible after the first 20 turns. Being able to plan out your home base is a gimmicky touch, it really doesn’t seem necessary and you are constantly having to train armies using money won from games. The training of armies takes time and this limits the amount that you can play per day. Multiplayer works, but there were times when I had to wait for hours for an opponent to make a move. While you can have several multiplayer games going at the same time, this only seems to draw out the length of a game to extraordinary proportions.
All things considered, Risk Factions is a mixed bag. On one hand, it offers more of what people like about the original Risk. Additional maps, special weapons, and different races are all new, original, and work well in adding to the whole Risk experience. Being forced to manage your armies and the possibility of going into a game without enough armies to win the game isn’t exactly fun. Long multiplayer games and constant delaying cut-scenes really drag out the game if you're looking for quick battles. In summary, if you couldn’t get enough Risk as a kid and the only reason you stopped playing was because nobody wanted to play with you anymore – this is the perfect game for you. However, if you were the person that couldn’t get into the whole Risk experience then this game probably isn’t going to win you over. In Risk Factions prepare for war, as everyone is at war with the idea of peace.
You can play Risk Factions for free via Facebook.
Reviewer Rating: 3/5 Stars: It's... ya know, Risk