Risk

a game by Sculptured Software

Platforms: PCPSXSega GenesisGenesis

Genres: Shooting Games, Strategy/War, Simulation

See also: Risk Games

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Overview

Many Saturday evenings of my youth were spent warring and scheming over a game of Risk with my friends. I could go into long tirades about allying with so-and-so, or how we all snorted Pepsi out of our noses laughing when what's-his-name got stuck in Australasia again. But we're in the '90s, so let's see what happens when Hasbro Interactive attempts to translate this classic board game to the PC environment.

Gameplay

Part of the challenge in translating a popular board game to the PC is keeping what people liked about the original, yet enhancing it enough to make it successful in the new setting. If you mess with tradition too much, you will end up alienating the devoted fans of the original -- those who are most likely to purchase the game. Yet at the same time, if all you do is make an electronic version of the old game, you will probably not attract enough of a new audience to reach the next plateau of success.

Hasbro Interactive has found the perfect solution to this dilemma by making their new Risk really two games in one. For the traditionalists like myself, they've provided Classic Risk, a perfect rendition of the original even down to the monotonous dice rolling. For those who want to expand their Risk experience, there is Ultimate Risk, structurally tied to the old Risk, but with many new and fun additions built in.

Classic Risk

Hasbro's Classic Risk is everything you think it should be, and more. If you want to, you can exactly replicate a game of the old Risk on your computer screen -- from the random territory card distribution to reinforcement placement and continent control. But this version of Classic Risk gives you some cool new options. For starters, there are numerous maps to choose from: the original World Map, as you'd find in the board game; the World Map c. 1800; the European Map c. 1792; the Asian Map c. 1800; and finally, the American Map c. 1800. Furthermore, you can choose from three different game objectives: World Domination (the last one standing wins), Capital Risk (where you try to capture your opponent's capital), and Mission Risk (where you need to fulfill the mission on a card dealt to you, e.g. conquer the French Army).

The turn sequences are what you would remember. First you place your reinforcements, then you choose where to make your attack(s); next you free move some troops between two neighboring territories, and finally you get a card if you conquered at least one territory. Lather, Rinse, Repeat. While I was very comforted by the option of playing the original Risk, and though it served as a nice re-introduction, it wasn't long before my curiosity regarding Ultimate Risk got the better of my more traditional side.

Ultimate Risk

This is where I'd like to focus my review, for I feel that Ultimate Risk is what makes this title worth buying for the general gaming public. Let me explain right away that Ultimate Risk probably won't cut the mustard for those strictly devoted to the intricacies of the Talonsoft or SSI war games. After all, this is still Risk, and as such, it has an inbred element of chance which I find exciting but that may frustrate more die-hard wargamers. That being said, I would suggest that Ultimate Risk is the wargame for the rest of us.

There is enough of the original Risk here to avoid a steep learning curve, yet this enhanced version of the game provides many wonderful new wrinkles. Let me describe a few:

  • Forts. You can build forts to protect the boundaries of your empire. The forts are entirely defensive, but also sturdy. They allow you to feel pretty well guarded against attack, and free up your troops for use elsewhere.

  • Generals. You can have up to five generals at a time. They lead your attacking armies to greater success on the battlefield, and actually gain rank with victory, making them even more effective.

  • Rebels. The pesky rebels will arise randomly in any weakly protected territories. Therefore, you can't just walkthrough an area and leave one battalion in each territory. You should have at last three in each. Rebels are like any other army in that, given the strength, they too can build generals and forts.

  • Realistic Terrain. Terrain acts like terrain in Ultimate Risk. You can't place forts in mountains, for instance. This adds a nice touch of realism.

  • Prisoners of War. When you defeat an enemy, you may capture some of its troops. These can be traded back to that army for the return of your own captured battalions.

  • Natural Disasters. Watch out for these. At the end of every round, they randomly strike territories on the board, and if they kill all of your troops in a given territory, rebels will gladly step in to take over—another good reason to have more than one battalion in each territory.

Ultimate Risk is more strategic than Classic Risk. When you attack or defend, instead of rolling dice, you will select an attack or defensive formation (e.g. attack left flank, or ambush). When the attacker and defender have both chosen their formations, the formation cards are shown, and then a result is calculated. The outcomes are still very random, of course, but you'll learn which formations to use at which times to maximize your chances of success. Those who were turned off by the random nature of events in Risk may like Ultimate Risk much better for this reason.

Graphics

All the maps are nicely rendered, and the cut-scenes in Ultimate Risk were also well made -- if a little uniform and repetitive. The whole package has a nice "vintage" look to it, adding to the feeling of nostalgia you get if you're fan of the board game. I didn't find anything graphically to be sub-par or annoying, and performance was not an issue (this is Risk, not Jetfighter III).

Audio

Unless I missed it, there was no music except during the cut-scenes. I can't say this fact bothered me greatly (no one wants to hear blasting Sousa marches when plotting their next move), but the option to have music low in the background would have been a nice addition. The sound effects were well recorded, if a little repetitive. For instance in Classic Risk, there is a nice dice-rolling effect, but after the hundredth time...

The best sounds were the battle sounds that accompanied the "battleboxes" in Ultimate Risk (short video clips that showed the outcome of that particular battle) -- the horses neighing, the pop of the rifle shots, the booms of the cannons, etc. Unfortunately, I found that the battleboxes themselves slowed down play too much, and I turned them off after I had seen a few. When I battle, I want to know now if I won or not!

Computer AI

I always like games that give you the option to team up with a friend and battle computer opponents -- if the computer-controlled players are smart, that is. In Risk, they are. My friend and I got toasted by the two computer armies (and then got to sit back as they played to a draw by finishing turns in seconds). As a single player against several computer opponents, I found the AI very challenging. You can't leave your back door open, or you're likely to have a very uncomfortable experience.

Multiplayer Support

The first time I played Risk over the modem with a friend, I noticed something rather strange: no chat mode. I kept thinking, "Oh, I just need to find the right key to push to open the chat window..." Nope, no chat. Hasbro has released a patch for Risk that is supposed to have better multiplayer support. Unfortunately, I've tried several times unsuccessfully to patch my installation, so I can't say how good the patch is. Even unpatched, though, you can play Risk via modem or LAN, and several Internet gaming sites are claiming that Risk Online will be available soon.

Documentation

I admit that I was disappointed with the game's CD-pamphlet documentation. It covers most of the basics, but in a rather pedestrian, dry manner. Little illustration, no color, just the facts, ma'am. One thing the manual failed to cover was the game's multiplayer support. Hasbro has posted a FAQ on its site that answered many of my questions. But having no mention whatsoever in the booklet or Help file of multiplayer support was baffling.

System Requirements

Win 95, 2X CD-ROM drive, 8 MB RAM, DX2-66, 1 MB SVGA video card, SoundBlaster or 100% compatible

Recommended: 4X CD-ROM drive, 12 MB RAM, P-75, 2 MB SVGA, SoundBlaster AWE 32

Reviewed on: P-120, 16 MB RAM, 16X CD-ROM drive, Diamond Stealth 64 video

Bottom Line

Unlike other companies who are re-releasing board games for the PC with souped-up graphics but little else that's fresh (e.g. Monopoly), Hasbro has taken Risk to the next level, making a decent computer game out of a classic board game, without disturbing the tradition they are building upon -- and because of that, this release should be recognized as a worthy effort. Better multiplayer support and more stylistic documentation would have made this an even stronger title, but it's pretty good as is. If you really like Risk, you'll love this game. If you're only slightly interested or indifferent, you may be better off with the Duke Nukems, Quakes, and Red Alerts of the gaming world.

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Risk Downloads

Risk download

Overview

It seems that Hasbro Interactive has taken a liking to recreating popular board games and releasing them on the PSX. The latest of these recreations is Risk, the game of Global Domination. This is one of those games that people either love or hate. This version is not going to change your feelings towards the game so if you are one of the many that loved the game, read on.

The PlayStation version of Risk features four different game types, against up to four different players. Everything that you found in the original board game has been faithfully recreated to help you in your quest to conquer the world. The more I think about it, the more I am coming to the conclusion that real-time strategy games have been more than a little influenced by the original Risk so it was only natural that this game would be made.

Gameplay

For those of you who are not familiar with the classic board game of risk, let me start with a brief explanation of the game: Risk is a game of military strategy and world conquest. It is up to you to command your armies across the different continents launching daring attacks. Your overall goal is to rule the world and getting there will not be easy.

As I mentioned above, this game can be played in four different ways. The first mode is the classic game mode. This mode is played on a world map of 42 territories. Each player has a different color army that is positioned across these territories. The main objective of the game is to conquer the world by defeating all of your opponents. This is accomplished by each player having a turn attacking their opponent by rolling dice. The world is divided into six continents. If you control an entire continent, you earn bonus armies. Anyway, if you are the attacker, you must have at least two armies in the territory you are attacking. To make a long story short, you will roll to see if your army defeats the defender's army. This is the game mode that most people who are familiar with the game will recognize. It was also probably one of the funnest modes to play.

This is a pretty difficult game to review because it is a very complicated game that really takes a lot of time to get used to. This was true of the board game as well. There are tons of different options and settings available so you can set the game to your liking . You can make the game as simple or complex as you desire when it comes to these options. I guess it is good to have the freedom to choose everything but it may be a bit overwhelming for some people.

One of the things that I really liked about the game setup was the ability to do a quick start. Like I said above, you can really get swallowed up by all of the settings you can change. It was nice to be able to just click the quick start and get at it. Sure, you lose the ability to customize some things but I think most gamers will find that they get more than enough out of this.

One of the biggest differences between this game and the board game aside from all of the options, is the mission option. This adds a specific mission for you to attempt to achieve during the game. For example, your mission may be to destroy a certain opponent or secure and occupy two or three specific continents. This kept things fresh a little longer than normal because these missions would change. This was a great addition to the game.

I think the biggest selling point of Risk has to be the multiplayer capabilities. Everyone knows that playing against human opponents is much more rewarding, satisfying and just plain more fun than playing against a computer controlled opponent. Since you may not always be able to round up three other players, you can mix human and computer players to make up a multiplayer match as well. The bottom line is that everyone is always looking for good multiplayer action and what could be better than dominating your buddies at war?

I really did not have any major complaints with the game. Sure, you lose the hands on feeling you get when playing board games but this is true with every board to PSX conversion. The only thing I can really say negatively is that this game will not appeal to all gamers. Plus, it can be a little slow at times. If you are one of those gamers who has a ton of games and likes to have one of every genre, go for it. If you only have a few games in your library, this game may not be the best choice for you.

Graphics

Graphics on a recreated board game are always a bit tough to describe. You are comparing graphics to the real life board all the time so it kind of skews your judgement a little. I guess as far as graphics go, I don't have any complaints. I really don't have any compliments either. I guess what I am trying to say is that the graphics are serviceable and get the job done but they will not have you dancing for joy either.

Bottom Line

If you like the board game of Risk, you should enjoy this game. It is best when played in multiplayer mode with your buddies but it is playable in single player mode as well. Some nice options and different game modes should keep you interest for a bit. In the end, this game may not be the best choice for everyone but fans of the game should enjoy it.

reggie posted a review
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