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iConquer

Quick and dirty: if you don't like Risk, there really isn't much point in downloading this game. If you do, or even if you think you might under the right circumstances, you need to download this, if not buy it. Do it. Do it now.

Download the demo here.


The actual review:

There's been Risk for computers for ages; it's just one of those no-brainers. Of course some geeky programmer is going to make a Risk computer game, because Risk represents the sum total of their social life when they were young. But as far as I know there aren't many Risk computer games out there with style, versatility, and just plain old sexy OS X looks and integration.

In point of fact, the only Risk game I know of that fits this description is Kavasoft's iConquer. And boy does it ever fit the bill.

If you haven't figured it out yet, I really love iConquer. I can't deny this, but I do posit that it is because it is a truly excellent game, not because I was a geeky programmer whose only social outlet was Risk. Well, okay, maybe a little bit of both. Whatever.

Point is, there's lots to love about iConquer. First off is how it looks. Kavasoft obviously understands Aqua, because they nailed it. This program just looks like it belongs, from the icon that sits so prettily in the dock to the preference panels and icons at the top of the map to the website, iConquer absolutely screams "I am made for MAC!" My PC using friends mocked me a bit for this, right up until they started playing the game. And then they were hooked until 4 A.M.

The gameplay of Risk doesn't really need to be explained (I hope), but this is something that Kavasoft handled very well. There are many different variations on Risk gameplay, but the preference pane in iConquer captures many of them. You can customize many parts of the game, from how many times you attack to the number system used to show how many armies are available for placement (I personally use Japanese Kanji; way too much fun). Because the gameplay is so customizable, and the options for rules diverse enough to encompass several variations that exist from person to person, the gameplay is great. Can anyone say attention to detail?

For example, it is possible to right click, and have a contextual menu pop up that can control placing variable numbers of troops, how many times to attack, and so on and so forth. Additionally, holding down option or shift can change what a click does, making the game very easy to manipulate to the best strategic advantage.

The bots that are included with the game are reasonably intelligent, but are fairly defeatable (or impossible, depending on how many anti-humans there are). The game as a single player game is a good way to waste some time.

What really makes it shine, however, are the networkable options. Whether you prefer hotseat or Rendevous, iConquer has it all. Even the ability to use iChat to grab some people to play with you is built in. I doubt this aspect of the game could get much better. For those of you who still need Risk as a social outlet, iConquer should provide you with just what you need. No more tedious dice rolls for you!

But these things aren't really what sold the game to me. What did it for me was the maps. iConquer comes with a set of a few different default maps, but with the click of a button you have access to downloadable maps (and potentially plugins for new A.I.'s and such), and it's very, very simple to download and install said maps. Not all of them are great, of course; the maps are made largely by people other than Kavasoft (although Kavasoft does have a few of their own as well), but just the fact that this expandability exists and is used makes a very good argument for shelling out the money necessary to register.

Why the rating: Unfortunately, I am unable to really think up many cons for this game. The demo only allows you to play it ten times before it forces you to buy it or trash it, but this isn't really that big an issue, and allows you a nice amount of time to experiment with the options available for the game. It just doesn't seem right to end this review on such an uniformly positive note, but I'm afraid that's how it's going to be. Since I can't find an issue with this game, I am forced to give it an 8. Admittedly not all people like Risk, however, which means that although this game really clicked for me it wouldn't necessarily be worth it for everyone. That said, I still think most people should download the demo (available here) and give it a shot. Whether alone or with friends, iConquer is a lot of fun.

Edit: although this is a great game with a very good entertainment-to-cost ratio, it can't be argued that this is just a reproduction of Risk. Wonderfully implemented, of course, but not terribly unique. I'd still strongly advise that folks give this one a try if you like Risk, though. I've never regretted registering.

Posted on May 27, 2004 at 5:19 pm
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Reviews:
Feeding Frenzy 2/16/2005
   
Gish 8/26/2004
   
tranquility 7/15/2004
   
Creepy Mines 2.5 6/11/2004
   
iConquer 5/27/2004
   
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