Tabletop strategy in the palm of your hand.
There is a strong tradition of board games being dragged kicking and screaming into the modern age and being reborn as video games. A lot of the time, this doesn’t work very well. But in the case of Risk, the daddy of all strategy games, it would seem that a video game version would work well. Indeed, with different variations of Risk appearing on nearly every platform, there is no denying that it is a perfectly matched board game to video game crossover.
Despite there already being a fair number of Risk clones on the iPhone, EA have decided to release an official version of the game. Unlike the clones, this version is classic Risk for the modern gamer, without any additional bells and whistles.
Unless you move away from the gameplay and towards the overall presentation. Considering that a classic game of Risk does not really have a lot to work with, the game looks great. Unlike some of the clones, the interface is both good looking and functional and the attacking animations are very well done. Even the map, which is limited by it’s very nature, doesn’t look bad.
But the gameplay is, as I said, classic to a fault. The map is divided into continents and territories, with each of the territories controlled by one of the players. Each player has three actions in their turn; Draft, Attack and Fortify. Beginning with Draft, the player receives a number of troops to share out amongst their territories. The number of troops that are received during the Draft is dependant on how many territories and complete continents the player controls, and the use of bonus cards. These cards are given out during the game and offer substantial troop bonuses.
The player then moves to Attack phase. It is now that they can attack any enemy territory that they are adjacent to. The more troops the player has in their territory, the higher chance of success. The player can either go all out war, which will get the conflict over with quickly but at a cost of more troops, or with one attack at a time, slowly grinding down the enemy. Either way, at this point it is all down to numbers and luck.
The final phase is Fortify. It is now that the player is able to move troops from one of their territories to another, perhaps in an attempt to foil what looks like an impending attack. Play continues in this manner until one person rules the world. It may seem fairly simple, but the game is actually quite tactical in the way it makes you think.
Playing against the adjustable AI is fine, but this game needs to be played with real people. Where is the fun in boasting your tactical superiority to what is basically a mobile phone. It will get you some funny looks on the bus, I can tell you. EA have a solution though. The game is packed with two different ways to play multiplayer. The standard wireless play, in which one player hosts a game and another joins in, is available. But there is also Pass ‘n Play, where the player simply pass the iPhone around when their turn has finished. I cannot think of a better game to use this method.
The gameplay is actually a lot of fun. I never really played Risk as a kid, but I found myself getting quite into this. Although the game is not a quick hit title, most games do not last too long so will not require a substantial investment of time. The AI is certainly competent enough to give a good fight, should there be no-one around to have a quick battle with.
There are a lot of Risk style games around on the App Store, and a fair few of them are cheaper than this. But a lot of them introduce new ideas and ways of playing that reduce the fun. EA’s entry is simple, classic and does what it says on the tin. If you want to play Risk, then buy Risk. Makes sense to me.
Risk, from EA, is available on the App Store for just Â£1.19