"Risk, the Game of Global Domination?!"
Now, I know what you are thinking. "Another board game adaptation?! Jeez, what a novel concept." Yeah, I was thinking the same thing myself when I got this in my inbox.
Generally, you expect a classic board game adaptation to fall into one of two categories. Either it’s so completely untrue to the original that you wonder why they named it after the game in the first place, or it’s such a painstaking duplication that you might as well just break out the actual board game. Sure, there have been a few exceptions, and, joyously, Risk II is one of those.
I’m sure everyone remembers those unlicensed freeware (well, at least everyone treated them like freeware) versions of a Risk-like game that were on every single MacIntosh in the early 90’s. "So what is the big deal about a new version for the PC?" I hear you ask. Well, Risk II takes this concept to some new levels.
First, Risk II gives you the option to play the original game, exactly as you remember it. It has some nice additional features, though. When a battle is fought it zooms down to the specific border being fought along and shows you the two sides as represented by individually animated infantry and cavalry. When one side scores a hit, one of the enemy’s units dies, falls down and disappears. This makes for entertainment at a time in the game that is ordinarily so much number crunching. Also as your armies grow, more powerful and interesting units, such as flagmen and cannons, represent them.
At the start of the game, you have the option of altering almost every aspect of play. You can change how countries are distributed, or what card sets are worth. You can even add optional countries added specifically for this game or change the value of each continent. They leave everything up to you.
The AI for the computer opponents is very good. Admittedly, since this is a turn-based game, making challenging AI is a bit easier than for something real-time, but they did an impressive job of it nonetheless. The opponents can be made to have different temperaments and skill levels, so as to make it a different experience each time.
If all they did was make an adaptation that was true to the original game, yet a unique gaming experience, Risk II would still have gotten a pretty decent rating. But Microprose didn’t stop there. They gave us a whole new game using the same familiar pieces.
The ‘Same Time’ game takes the same Risk map and gives everything else a whole new twist. Even the dice are different. Instead of the 6-sided dice that are the same no matter how large the armies get, this game uses weighted 12-sided ones that are color-coded, from the white one (used for very low-strength armies), which has more 1’s than anything else, on through to the black one (used by really huge armies), which has more 6’s.
In this game, everyone chooses all of their armies’ movements at once, and then conflicts are resolved according to type (head-on collisions first, etc). This definitely gives a whole new twist to strategic planning, as old stand-by strategies don’t work quite like they did. I’d recommend playing Same Time with the map the way they have it – with all of the optional countries, which produces things like a link from Australia to South America. It definitely changes your overall plan.
The music and sound effects are enjoyable and add to the game experience without being distracting. The music is mostly a classical score, which is perfect for the timeframe when the game takes place.
I’d recommend this game for people who remember the board game fondly, for people with kids, and well, everyone I guess.
Risk II gives us the nostalgia of the classic board game and adds quite a few challenging and entertaining features of its own. It quite handily earns a perfect 5 GiN Gems.