Risk: Factions is almost exactly what you would expect it to be. It has the classic game of Risk in it, but it adds a new game mode, Factions, to the mix. Factions is a new twist on the objective based ‘Missions’ game type from the classic Risk board game. Unfortunately, missed opportunities and a couple bad bugs take away from what could have added greatly to the lackluster strategy game sampling available on the Xbox Live Arcade.
The first thing you’ll do when playing Risk: Factions is go through the campaign. Though calling it a campaign is rather farfetched. The campaign consists of 5 games, the first of which is a tutorial, that introduce you to the ‘backstory’ behind each of the five factions in Risk: Factions– humans, cats, robots, zombies, and yetis. The backstory behind each faction is relegated to a single cutscene each, in which the humans essentially create this world war in an attempt to stave off peace.
Unfortunately, despite promises to the contrary, there are no discernable differences between the various factions. They are all identical, save the appearance of the dice they roll. Additionally, the map elements that were added either do nothing to change the strategy of the game, or are too overpowering. Despite all of this, the core gameplay is just as solid as the board game it tries to expand upon.
The best part of Risk: Factions is definitely taking the game online against other players. It is just that much more satisfying to destroy another person instead of a computer. You can even play classic Risk online, if you get tired of the objective based Factions variety of Risk.
Unfortunately, a few bugs can hamper or destroy the experience. In the tutorial, I conquered the computer without completing the required objectives. Rather than going ahead and giving me the victory, it sat there waiting for me to complete another objective. I had to restart in order to get out of it. A different time, while playing online, the game itself kept going, but the communication between consoles and the server just stopped working. I had finished my turn, and could interact with the gameboard, but as far as everyone else could see, I was taking forever to finish my turn. Additionally, despite each turn having a time limit before it gets skipped, that mechanism never kicked in. So unfortunately, that game had to be abandoned.
If you love Risk, you can probably overlook the shortcomings of Risk: Factions because the core gameplay is intact and enjoyable. If you were wanting more than that though, you’ll be disappointed.
Plays Like: Risk
Pros: Risk is fun; Robots and Zombies and Yetis, oh my!
Cons: Campaign doesn’t deserve the name; Bugs can ruin a game; Factions are identical