Risk II, by MacSoft/Microprose
Posted: 29-July-2001

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: MacSoft/Microprose Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Bill Catambay Class: GAMES

"It is the time of empires and armies, of countries and conquests. The world is at war and you are in command of an army fighting for global domination. Organize your forces in a ruthless campaign to crush your enemies and take their territories in this fast-paced game of strategy, negotiation and luck."

Risk II, brought to the Macintosh by MacSoft, is a true-to-form implementation of the classic board game, Risk. Like the board game, you can play against other players, but you can also play against the computer, or a combination of both. Over and above the original board game, Risk II also offers a new game play called "Simultaneous Turns", not to mention some great sound effects, graphics animations, and automatic calculations (removing the mundane score keeping hassles from the game).

The feature list for Risk II is as follows:

  • Classic or Advanced map options; play on the traditional number of territories or a map with added territories and connections.
  • Two ways to play! Classic game or Simultaneous-Turn option. Now all players can be involved at the same time.
  • Optional 3-D world globe view.
  • Advanced graphics with animated battles.
  • Single or multiplayer capability via hot-seat, LAN or the Internet.
  • Mission-based play option; each player provided with pre-set objectives for a whole new take on the way RISK is played.
  • Use the chat and Iconic Communication features for diplomacy.
  • From 2 to 8 human or computer players.
The first thing that caught my attention when I started playing the game was how rich the sounds were, both the background music and the general sound effects for battles, dice rolling, etc.. Close behind the nice sounds were the cool animated battle scenes. Like in the board game, you roll the dice against your opponents, and the high numbers win. After each role, with the animations turned on, you get to see the battle, complete with gunshots, explosions, and death moans.

After enjoying the general look and feel of the game, I began to investigate the actual game play. First I took on three computer players, and the computer played pretty good. One thing noticeably absent was a preference for levels of difficulty. The default level appeared relatively smart. There's enough luck involved due to the dice rolling that have levels of difficulty may not be noticeable, but for the true stragists, there are definite methods of playing that could be separated by levels. I also felt a bit of frustration from time to time when the computer just seemed "too" lucky. I suppose that is apart of any game that depends heavily on the roll of dice, but when you don't get to see the real dice, and you notice that you haven't rolled a number higher than 3 in over 24 consecutive rolls, you begin to wonder if the dice are loaded in the computer's favor.

The additional territories, such as Hawaii connecting Asia and North America, add a nice new spin to the game, and the number of preferences for game play makes Risk II several games in one. You can play standard conquest, or you can play the Mission-based version where each player is randomly assigned a specific mission. I enjoy the Mission-based the best, as it involves more strategy and more interesting dynamics.

I tried one game using the Simultaneous Turns, and although I found it interesting (moreso because I won), I am more inclined to play the classic turn base option. The simultaneous option allows you to set up your attacks prior to each round, as do the other players, and then the computer plays out all the battles one after the other (giving precedence to specialized battle sequences, such as mass attacks). It isn't true real-time play, but it creates a strategy which is closer to real life. The computer handles several different types of situations automatically. For example, if you happen to attack the same territory as another player, you and the other player join forces in the attack, and later, if you win the battle, fight each other for the "spoils". Likewise, if you plan an attack on another territory which also planned an attack on you, it becomes a "border conflict", and these battles are played first using even odds on dice comparison. All other battles gives the advantage to the attacker, as a tie is given to the attacker (which is completely the opposite of the traditional turn-based option). You can plan mass attacks (multiple territories attacking one territory) as well as one advance attack (having the victors of one battle go on to attack another territory). The latter can bring about unpleasant results if you suffered great losses in the first conquest. It would have been better to offer the option to only proceed into another battle if you ended up with a certain number of troops left from the first battle.

My favorite feature of Risk II was being able to play friends over the internet. The network game play was very stable, as I played through my DSL connection against someone else on a 56K dial-up modem connection. Human opponents always add more interesting challenges to the game, and I'm also more apt to trust the dice when the computer no longer is in a position to want to win. We played the classic turn based option, and in addition to seamless game play, there is also a built-in chat area that lets you talk with (or taunt) the other player.

Risk II is a great and fun game, full of different challenges and different options for game player to keep novice to expert strategy gamers entertained for a long time. The rich sound effects and well designed battle scenes and animations add quite a bit to the gaming experience, as does the ability to play against your friends over the internet. There were a few instances where the interface was a little frustrating. In the simaltaneous turns option, for example, when accidentally clicked DONE when asked for tactical advances, there was no way to undo that even though the game did not proceed to actually making the tactical moves yet. Likewise, when I made a tactical move, even before clicking DONE, once I selected a territory to move some troops from and to, there was no way to undo the territory selection (even though the game message says you can still edit the move). The other thing that bothers me about the game is that it requires you to put the CD in to play. This is one of those games, like any classic, that you may want to play every few months, on a whim, and having to hunt down the CD to play the game is an annoyance. Other than these minor frustrations, the game play was superb, and I highly recommend it for all, especially those who enjoy the classic board game.

System Requirements:
  • PowerPC 132MHz or faster
  • MacOS 8.1 or greater
  • 32MB RAM (Virtual memory may be required)
  • 4X CD-ROM drive
  • Display capable of thousands of colors at 800x600 pixels
  • 5MB hard disk space (155MB recommended)


PROS:

  • Gorgeous graphics and animations
  • Rich sound effects
  • Supports conquest and mission based game play
  • Includes unique and customizable features, such as additional territories and simultaneous turns option
  • Allows play against the computer and over the internet (including live chat)


CONS:

  • Requires CD every time you want to play
  • Some of the interface is not very forgiving (weak undo functionality)


Overall Rating

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice