Risk II is an excellent example of how a computerized version of a popular boardgame should be done: keeping the original elements intact while adding elements that are only possible on the computer. In this case, it's extra maps, 3D globe view, new objectives, lots of variants, and above all a cool new mode called 'Same Time Risk.' Games Domain's says it all about this refreshing take on a well-known boardgame: |
"Risk II offers three modes of gameplay, 'Classic Risk', 'Same Time Risk' and 'Tournament Play'. 'Classic Risk' recreates the conventional turn based board game, whereas 'Same Time Risk' introduces the concept of simultaneous execution of orders. This is not a particularly inventive direction as several other games already utilise this compromise between turn based and real time gameplay, e.g. Diplomacy and M.A.X. However, it does introduce a more challenging form of gameplay and will be a blessing for those who get frustrated waiting for their opponents to make their move. Online multiplayer games will certainly benefit from the significant reduction in average game length. 'Tournament Play' is actually a set of sixteen pre-set games combining varying objectives, numbers of players and difficulty settings. The first five games are fought in the 'Classic Risk' style, with the remainder as 'Same Time Risk'. To progress to the next game in the sequence, the player must win outright or defeat at least one or more opponent and stay alive to the end of the game. Tournament points are awarded for a range of achievements.
In single play, a human player competes against between two to seven computer opponents. There are sixteen to choose from in total, varying in difficulty. Famous leaders such as Napoleon Bonaparte and the Duke of Wellington are featured along with others such as Taupin, Solignac and D'Erlon. Although a brief description of each computer opponent is provided in the manual, a multimedia reference feature would not have gone amiss.
Generally speaking, I have to say that I have found the AI to be strong and challenging, particularly with the more 'experienced' opponents. AI players like Campbell and Spencer present a far greater challenge than the likes of Freire and Solignac. 'Deep Thought' doesn't seem to miss a trick, never failing to take advantage of a mistake. I have yet to be convinced of how well the AI players utilise their long-term memories as there are simply too many gameplay permutations to accurately assess this in the relatively short time I have been playing. A common strategy utilised by the AI is the concentration of forces in one or two territories and stand-offs can be quite common as a result. Somewhat confusingly, the AI seems rather passive during multiplayer hot seat games. I've no idea why this should be, as there doesn't seem to be any sense in using different AI code for this mode of play.
My biggest single disappointment with this release is the (relatively) limited scope of the game. There are only 48 territories to fight over in total. The 'Ultimate Risk' variant from Hasbro Interactive's 1996 version offered no less than 595 territories, with up to 180 in play at any one time! The 'Ultimate Risk' variant also offered extended gameplay features such as topographic and meteorological conditions, forts, fatigue, disease, active generals, POWs, multiple tactical moves and 'Blind Risk'. Additionally, a number of pre-set historical scenarios were provided. Overall though, I have to say that the positives easily outweigh the negatives. The 'Same Time Risk' mode offers more challenging gameplay and can result in some novel situations when several players each decide to attack the same territory. Though somewhat narrower in scope, Risk II is a highly polished product and far more accomplished than its predecessor. I would rate it amongst one of the better board game conversions I have played. The slick, if inappropriately modern, interface provides easy access to a mass of information and statistics and the choice of sixteen individually profiled AI opponents provides plenty of adversary choice. And I just don't seem to tire of those endearing BattleView animations." Highly recommended.
Reviewed by: Underdogs