Risk: The Official Game, Review

Imagine if the classic board game was playable on the iPhone.

If just the thought of having Risk everywhere you go gets you excited, then you will be glad to hear that Risk has been recreated on the iPhone and iPod Touch. Just don’t get too excited, Risk for iPhone is far from, well, a risk.

This is not a review of Risk as a game, but a review of the experience of playing Risk on the iPhone. Risk itself is a classic of renowned quality, and one of the most entertaining experiences I have had with a board game to date- which is why I was eager to try Risk when it arrived on the App store.

riskreview2Bringing Risk to an electronic platform affords certain advantages, some of which the developers made use of. There is no need for fumbling about with figurines and dice as the game takes care of all the physical inconveniences of playing a game of Risk. The game is now portable, even giving players the option to have the board set itself up automatically to save time. Being a video game, Risk also allows the players to match wits against AI opponents- which means you can sharpen your skills alone on the bus. The developers also took some liberties with the visual style of the game, choosing to give it an appealing Defcon meets Advance Wars look.

If  you are looking for a new take on the game, special rule sets, or even the ability to customize your own house rules, Risk for iPhone is not the place to look. The game makes use of the original rules only, and while that still makes for an entertaining game, those of us used to playing variants such as Secret Mission will be left wanting.

Just bringing vanilla Risk to the iPhone would have been enough, had it been done properly. In its current state, Risk supports only local multiplayer via “hotseat,” Wifi, and Bluetooth. One would hope that Risk would include the option to play asynchronous matches over the internet, but that is a confusingly absent feature. If I have to be in the same room to play with my friends, I would much rather bring out the actual board game as opposed to dealing with the spotty WiFi functionality or sharing a single iPhone in pass play. Since I have yet to have a round where the connection wasn’t lost with WiFi, pass play was how I had to play Risk.

The most personally irritating omission for this version of Risk is that it is not on the iPad. If local multiplayer is the only option, why not just put it on the platform that affords a better facsimile of the board game experience? Sure, there is an element of secrecy with cards, but Scrabble solved that problem nicely. The game does look fine on the iPad’s screen when scaled, and I did find it easier to pick the correct province on the larger display. Scaling aside, a dedicated version makes perfect sense.

Risk on the iPhone is a good game by default, but the experience of using it is poor. Risk fails to bring features already available in games such as Carcassone, forcing players to sit huddled about their iPhone screens for a lengthy strategy session. The lack of online means the game lacks true portability, and this iPhone outing ultimately cannot match up to the versatility of an actual Risk board.

Final Score


Risk is available for $4.99 on the App Store

This game was reviewed on a 2nd gen device, and iPad

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    It’s unfortunate that Hasbro/EA is not innovating in this space. True remote multiplayer would have been a given feature I thought.

    There are tons of places to play online that provide a better experience, some even have iphone apps.