It was back in 1959 when Parker Brothers first introduced the
popular board game Risk and since it's inception, we've seen
several renditions of the classic board game and even a few PC
counterparts. Perhaps the most notable computer version of Risk
was the one released by Hasbro Interactive back in 1996. Now,
with the help of developer Deep Red, Hasbro Interactive is
publishing Risk II, a game that is more a remake of the original
title than an actual sequel.
For those of you who have never heard of the game before, Risk is
a turn based strategy board game in which players attack and
defend territories by managing and projecting their military force.
The object of the game, in most instances, is to dominate the
world by capturing each and every territory. This is accomplished
by deploying your forces in order to conquer new territories while
continuing to defend your existing land. If you're unfamiliar with
the inner workings of the game, Risk II offers 32 different tutorials
that will demonstrate the rules and regulations of the game.
There are three modes of play in Risk II: Classic Risk, Same Time
Risk and Tournament Play. Classic Risk recreates the conventional
turn based board game while Sam Time Risk introduces a style of
play in which players make simultaneous decisions regarding their
attacking and movement phases. This offers a unique twist on the
game in that if you decide to deploy your units to attack a new
territory, another player, in the same turn, might decide to attack
the territory from whence those units derived from. It adds a new
element of strategy to the game. Finally, Tournament Risk is a series
of 16 pre-set scenarios with varying objectives and settings.
Tournament points are awarded in accordance to how well you do
in each scenario.
In a single player game, you can compete against up to 7
computer opponents in any one game. These aren't just any old
computer opponents though, there are 16 of some of the most
famous leaders the world has seen. Opponents such as Napoleon,
Taupin and the Duke of Wellington are offered up, each with
varying difficulty levels.
In terms of the rules of the game, Risk II is no different from the
original title. It does, however, serve up a number of new
gameplay options. First off, there are six additional territories that
can be activated if you so desire. Not only do the territories add to
the size of the world, they also add new links between continents
that aren't available in the original game. There's also the option
to change the continent reinforcement bonus settings in the game.
These new options create a whole new set of possible attack
routes and outcomes in the game. There are also three different
objectives to select from: World Domination Risk, Capital Risk and
Mission. The World Domination choice requires the winner to
capture and protect a percentage of the world. Capital Risk
requires the winner to capture and occupy their opponent's capital
cities. The Mission objective requires the winner to complete the
task allocated to them via a Mission Card which is revealed at the
beginning of the game. Missions range from controlling certain
continents to destroying all troops belonging to a specified player.
As I mentioned before, the rules and regulations of the game
remain the same. You still collect trading cards when acquiring a
certain number of territories and you can still trade those cards in
for reinforcements. You still deploy a set number of units at the
beginning of each turn and you still attack and move forces in the
same manner as before. When you first start a game, each player
chooses territories they wish to control one by one. Risk II features
a new election approach in which players are allocated election
points that they can use to outbid other players in order to control
certain territories. Once all the territories have been acquired,
players then deploy their starting armies on the board. The game
begins as each player takes their turn consisting of four phases, a
process that remains unchanged from the original game. Players
can form alliances with opponents, move units, attack adjacent
territories to theirs, etc. Another new option introduced into the
game is defence strategies. Player's can now position their troops
within a territory in order to gain an advantage. You can place
units on the borders of territories or in the capital, each with it's
own set of advantages and disadvantages for combat and
One of the biggest improvements over the original Risk title is the
new and improved interface. Besides the 2D board view, a 3D
globe view is available at the stroke of a key and both modes are
fully zoomable. I did find the 3D globe to be a little shaky in terms
of viewing the entire world. You can only rotate the globe
horizontally, with no vertical adjustment available. I think you'll
find the 2D view is the one to stick with. The controls are relatively
simple and information panels are available upon request if you're
having difficulty. At the end of each game, graphical battle
statistics are presented for each player including kills, casualties,
continents controlled, and much more.
The presentation of Risk II is much improved over the original. The
board and interface are much more colourful and the addition of
battlefield animations is a bonus, although slightly repetitive after
awhile. The background music consists of Tchaikovsky's 1812
Overture and works to great effect. There are also sound effects
during the battlefield animations in which you'll hear such effects as
rifle and cannon fire while commanders bark orders to their troops.
Risk II does offer multiplayer options including TCP/IP and LAN
support. Apparently there will also be an online matching service
at Microsoft's Gaming Zone. Turn based titles like Risk II require a
taste though for multiplayer games. Personally, I have a hard time
dealing with the lengthy waiting periods between turns. You can
also play with more than one player on the same machine, via the
hot seat method, but I can't see how that would be very exciting.
I'm sure somewhere down the line Hasbro Interactive will
incorporate their famous Play by E-Mail feature, but it currently
doesn't exist in Risk II.
As I mentioned before, Risk II is more a remake than a sequel. The
core of the game remains the same despite the addition of some
new features. Gameplay is slightly more limited in Risk II, as
compared to the original title, since the Ultimate Risk style has
been removed. If you're in the market for a classic board game,
Risk II is certainly worth a look and even if you own the original
1996 version, there are enough innovations and options to declare
Risk II the ultimate computer based Risk game.