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If you would’ve told me two weeks before Risk: Factions was released, that I’d be sitting right here, writing about how much I enjoyed playing Risk for hours on end, I would’ve slapped you in the back of the head and forced you to leave my house. But here I am, thinking about Risk, a game that seems seemingly impossible to make fun and exciting, and thinking Risk: Factions, along with Snoopy: Flying Ace, may be the best Xbox Live Arcade game released this year.
The cheery art-style is the first thing that jumps out at you once you fire Risk: Factions up. It all has a very cartoony look to it, having the many territories colored with bright, vibrant colors (With the exception of the Zombies’ gray). Once you select a territory of yours to attack an opposing faction’s territory, the camera will zoom in on the two territories and the factions troops (Cats, Yetis, Zombies, Soldiers, etc.) will appear on screen. What follows after the very tense dice roll is a hilarious yet brutal execution of some of the creatures on-screen. I once witnessed my soldiers violently shoot a cat in the chest. There’s no real blood of course but my chuckles kept coming back time after time during the fights.
The story of Risk: Factions is nothing you get engrossed into sure, but the very Cartoon Network-esque art-style and legitimately funny writing made me excited to see each cutscene. It’s broken up into 5 fairly easy sections, all of which have a clever name that is a pun of a movie title. To win a game of Risk: Factions you can do it the old fashion way, take over all the territories, or do it the new and much quicker way, gain three objectives. The objectives are all fairly tough, ranging from taking over 24 territories to taking over a specific continent. It still takes around a good hour to get through a game of Risk, but time will blow by so quickly that you won’t know if it’s night or day outside.
If you’re a Risk elitist and feel it’s absolutely necessary to play Risk the old way, they have a mode dedicated just for you. There are no brutal murders, no funny looking characters, and no objectives. Just the world map, filled with 5 separate colors. Before this game, my knowledge of Risk was non-existent. I’ve never played a game of it in my life but even this mode I enjoyed. Granted, I was terrible at it, I’ve yet to win a single game of classic Risk, but I enjoyed it immensely and even after being eliminated, I had fun watching the computer fight back and forth for territories.
The main problem I’ve had throughout the game are the dice-rolls. It’s something that had to be in the game but having eight men take on one, and having that one man destroy damn near all your units is so incredibly frustrating. And at times, it feels they may not have fine-tuned the dice-rolls enough as it seems every time I go against the computer in an equal battle, nine out of ten times, the computer will kick my ass.
The online multiplayer for Risk is good. It’s nothing revolutionary but throughout my games played, I never ran into a single second of lag or any latency troubles. Though the change of going from computer-operated opponents to real opponents is a steep one. I’m one hundred percent sure I will never in my life win a Risk game online, though that didn’t stop me from having tons of fun.
At its heart, Risk: Factions is a strategy game, a damn fun one at that. It’s a rare breed when a game comes along that can cater to both hardcore fans of the concept while introducing new fans to it without bombarding them with a plethora of information and Risk: Factions does just that. It doesn’t matter if you’ve loved Risk since 1957 or you’re just now becoming interested in it, this game should be bought by all.