Review: Risk: Urban Assault
As far as videogame adaptation of board game goes, Ubisoft and Hasbro don’t seem to let their partnership go in vain, and after the Monopoly Family Fun Pack and Trivial Pursuit Live! (both reviewed on the site), we now look at Risk: Urban Assault, a take on the original Risk game, with a small single-player “campaign”, custom games and two multiplayer modes: Classic and League.
Now I hope you don’t mind if I don’t go into details of what Risk is all about, I’m sure most of you readers have played it before. Now starting with the single player campaign, Risk: Urban Assault offers five different “maps”, each representing a major city in the world (London, Paris, New York…). On each of these new maps, you will have five different objectives to accomplish, although not necessarily leading you to victory, but when completed will earn you a medal. These medals will unlock the numerous different maps of the single player campaign.
When the actual board game starts, you will be asked to choose sides among five factions, and the “commander” of your army. Each faction has its own color and unique leader, alongside four mercenaries (common to the five factions) that can be hired as your commander. The choice of the commander will determine the special ability of your team: air support, tactical strike with mecha, Automatic +1 bonus on your best dice, etc…
Once you select your faction and your assigned commander, the “party” can finally start, and this is where you notice the subtle – yet same – changes to this Urban Assault of Risk. Preparations completed, it is time to start to conquer territories, with a typical turn-based flow of the game where each player will have to plan, attack and strategize in three phases of the game. In the recruitment phase, a few additional units join the fight, and it’s up to you or place them on the map, or use ‘stars’ earned throughout the game to purchase additional units, construct buildings (like radio towers) or even recruit new commanders. The second phase is the attack, where you decide which territory to take over. During this phase of the game, you throw up three dice (if you have enough units attacking) to attack an enemy who will rolls 1-3 dice to defend himself. The top two of each dice are compared and obviously the strongest wins and destroys an enemy unit. Note that equality roll of the dice gives victory to the defender, and that’s also the phase where you can use your commander’s special attack your commander if it is available. Finally, the turn ends with the the fortification phase, which is when you move units from one territory to another to strengthen and defend against the enemies in the following rounds.
Once your turn is done, you win a certain number of stars, which you can be used during your next turn recruitment phase to improve your army, depending on what you achieved during your turn. Then it is the other players to play their three phases. Thankfully, after “suffering” the previous Risk game’s AI, there’s an “Quick AI” option made available to accelerate the turn of the AI controlled players to reduce the waiting time. I really enjoyed this option, which allows to make the game play slightly faster, especially when you play alone against three AI.
Ultimately, the goal is to catch a maximum of territories, and while the map represent big cities (instead of continents and countries), they are still divided into districts, which each are divided into smaller areas to conquer. Like the original Risk, conquering all territories of a neighborhood will allow you to build a City Hall (instead of a capital). Owning a number of City Hall (depending on the map) leads directly to victory, or the party therefore ends when one player has captured enough city halls, or eliminated all opponents.
The problem though, like most “game of chance” is that the roll of the dice, sometimes can be rudely frustrating on this video game adaptation. Indeed, in many cases, the AI chains perfect dice, almost pushing me to believe that this is staged. In some instances I lost an entire platoon of 10 units to a mere 3 because of a “lucky streak” roll of the dice.
Once you go through the “scripted” campaign with a mundane story behind it, players will be able to continue in the game via “Custom Game” to replay all maps of the campaign and changing various parameters and rules. Or if you prefer trying on real people, the multiplayer side (online only) has a “classic” mode, or even a “League” mode, which is a sort of “competition” that allows to rank yourself among the best players in the world. Although I would’ve love to go further on that front, there’s not much to say, considering the game matchmaking took over 30 minutes to find just one opponent (hopefully that will change once more people get the game).
Now on the front of the graphics, I should make you aware that they are extremely basic, and are far from doing honor to the new generation of consoles… Minimalist animation, very few details: in short, you are not before a visual masterpiece, and this would’ve been forgotten if the game was a little more “dynamic” and if the voice of your robot assistant wasn’t that annoying.
Risk: Urban Assault was reviewed using an Xbox One digital code of the game provided by Ubisoft. The game is also available on Xbox 360, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3 via their respective online stores. We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published.
• Risk in a video game
• Great little additions to the core game
• Online multiplayer
• "Cheating" AI is not fun
• Really minimal effort on the front of graphics
• Pointless story mode
• Game is rather slow