|Risk II, by MacSoft/Microprose
"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."
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.