Review: RISK (PS4)

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Title: RISK
Format: PlayStation Network Download (1.6 GB)
Release Date: February 3, 2015
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Zoe Mode
Original MSRP: $14.99 (US), €14.99 (EU), £11.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: E10+
PEGI: 7
RISK is also available on PlayStation 3, Xbox One, and Xbox 360.
The PlayStation 4 version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

RISK is a turn-based strategy board game originally invented by Albert Lamorisse, a French film director in the late 50’s. It’s played with two to six players on a board featuring a political map of the Earth where everyone attempts to capture territories and attain global domination.

Gameplay:
Using the 2010 rules as standard and allowing a few variants that adds some extra depth to the content, we have the digital version of RISK from Ubisoft. For the new players, the artificial intelligence system named Iris will guide you through every step and each mode when you first play the game. Now before you start thinking Iris is something revolutionary and new, it isn’t, far from it in fact. It’s just a voiced tutorial and in-game commentary.

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After playing for several hours I’ve found the actual game plays very well in single player mode. The A.I. is competent and fair which means some games can last a fairly decent amount of time, especially if you have several opponents and play out the dice rolls instead of using the quicker auto-roll option. This brings me to one of the most important parts of a board game, the dice rolls. You have to roll a higher number than your opponent to win a battle. This is represented in-game by some holographic dice and that looks fine but for some reason I prefer some ‘real’ digital dice. I know that sounds silly, and it probably is because I know it makes no real difference. Luckily for me there are some that look like proper dice, available on the Uplay site if you spend some Uplay points.

Controls are simple and easy to understand and the only annoying issue I found was having to select Fast A.I. every round instead of just keeping the option on until I wanted the slower pace again. Every troop movement and little cutscene can be skipped as well which I’m very happy about as it can become boring watching the same thing over and over.

… RISK is surprisingly chilled out and laid back …

If you ever get stuck you can always ask Iris for some advice to see what the computer would do in your position. It’s a nice extra that can help out the novice or young players. It did feel a little like cheating but you never have to use it and I quickly forgot about the option anyway.

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I was happy to see a few other modes like ‘Capturing the Capitals’ that felt like the main game. Another quickly became my favorite, ‘Secret Mission.’ In this mode Iris gives a secret objective to each player and the first one to complete it wins the game. In the first one I played I had to capture both North America and Africa. This game lasted ages and was a lot of fun because we all seemed to be going for North America. The second game tasked me with capturing twenty-one territories. This objective seemed easy until the last few rounds where I was always one away from my goal, the swines. It’s a fun mode that mixes up the main game enough to make it feel new and adds a layer of strategy that becomes very compelling.

If you’re looking for a war room simulation game with nerve shredding choices and tense battles then look elsewhere because RISK is surprisingly chilled out and laid back. It desperately tries to be the complete opposite with its visual and audio style but come on, it’s as tense as a Sunday morning stroll.

… A few save slots would have been nice …

Visuals:
The game takes place on a futuristic holographic table and apart from the room it’s situated in you don’t get to see anything else. There are few quick clips of military vehicles and aircraft destroying each other whenever someone captures a continent. The only other things you can see are from buying a few dice or vehicles in the Uplay store by using up those hard-earned points. I do prefer to see some slightly more realistic dice and so grabbed some of them but was disappointed by the lack of unlocks in-game.

I do enjoy the modern look and feel of a futuristic war room but would have liked a few customization options or even some skins or themes to unlock. It would be nice to be able to unlock and play on a classic style board but sadly what you see is what you get.

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Audio:
You’ll hear Iris, the supposed artificial intelligence blabbering on about who is capturing what and informing you of the phase your player is in. There is also some average music and the usual military engagement sound effects when you battle another player. I found the audio to be slightly above average, suiting the game well but nothing special.

Online/Multiplayer:
You’ll be able to play one to four players offline and online. There are four different leagues to enter and compete in, but sadly I was unable to find a single person or match in any online mode before finishing this review. As such, I can only write about the offline gameplay which I’m happy to report is excellent. You are able to pick the player’s color which also changes the light bar on the controller to match as you pass the controller around with each turn. You can have a mixture of human and A.I. opponents with varying difficulties but for some annoying reason, only one active game at any one time. A few save slots would have been nice.

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Conclusion:
As far as a digital representation of a board game goes, this is great. RISK plays really well and can be a lot of fun. However it doesn’t feel like a game that offers much in the longevity department. The only unlocks are a few dice and a tank but they’re trapped behind the Uplay points system.

It all boils down to how much you like the board game. Don’t expect too much and you won’t be disappointed because this game has about as much depth as a paddling pool.

Score:
7.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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