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Review: Monopoly

Posted by on December 12th, 2010 | 1 Comment | Tags:

Reviewing a video game adaptation of Monopoly is different from a regular review because I can’t really review the game itself; I’m not about to critique the mechanics of a cardboard classic that’s been around since 1935. The best I can do is tell you is how good of an adaption you get in the minis version of Monopoly; I’ll tell you right now, it’s a pretty good one. However, I have to warn anybody not interested in the Parker Brother’s game of properties and houses: this is straight-up Monopoly without any new twists or re-interpretations. If Monopoly is not your thing, then this game is not for you. The rest of you, read on.

The minis version of Monopoly is surprisingly full-featured for a “mini” title. You can configure a game almost any way you want: up to four players, human or AI, can play on the original board or one of seven themed boards. These boards are locked from the start, but they become available as you finish games (so long as a computer opponent isn’t the winner). They add a bit of freshness to the aesthetics, reimagining the properties, play pieces, and music to fit themes like Future, Sweets, and Cardboard. Aside from the TRON-ish, black-and-neon-blue eyesore that is the Future board, these alternates add variety without actually changing the game. Speaking of game-changing, there are a host of house rule options one can set up before the start of a round. I was initially impressed with the options available, but after spending more time with the game I began to see some weird omissions. For instance, the Income Tax and Luxury Tax spaces can be configured to many values, but they can never be what they actually are on a standard Monopoly board. The house rules seem at first to offer a depth of options, but to folks who play a lot of Monopoly, they will likely appear shallow and lacking in areas that appear obvious.

This minis version of Monopoly is the first video game I’ve encountered to use a physics-based dice roller. Rather than randomly generating the dice rolls behind the scenes, the game drops 3D-rendered six-siders onto the board (thankfully without knocking over the play pieces, as I often do in real life). It’s pretty neat to see the dice literally roll uniquely every time, but the dice react weirdly if they ever come to rest touching an edge of the rolling area. Basically, the game feels the need to “nudge” the die in these situations, spending up to a full minute bumping the cube around until it is settled to the game’s satisfaction. Speaking of time-consuming, the animations played when a piece moves around the board get very old. They are unskippable. You must watch each player tap down on each space every time they move. Monopoly can be a long game, but having to watch these animations makes the games even longer.

I would be happy to give Monopoly four stars if it weren’t for the crashing bug that randomly strikes when you win a game. Since the theme boards unlock when you win, it can be incredibly frustrating to win a three-hour game only to have the entire system lock up at the “You Win!” screen. The game has no autosave either. My other big detraction is how property trades are handled. The screen for property trades can be accessed any time during your turn, and is actually fairly robust, but it’s very bad about making obvious what is up for trade and what changes have been made if the other person makes another suggestion. A couple times I accidentally accepted a trade that really hurt my position because I couldn’t tell that the opposing player had made a change to their proposal. The AI, which is fairly good throughout the game, is annoying when it comes to trade. They’ll usually suggest trades that benefit them, and they are smart enough to accept trades that help them and deny ones that would hurt them. However, they have a terrible habit of suggesting the same trade over and over again, regardless of how many times you may have declined it. I can’t count how many times the AI would ask for a property they needed, offering a property I didn’t want, answering any counter-offers with a demand to pay all my money as part of the trade, and repeating the same offer the next turn.

If you like Monopoly, and feel like picking up a version that plays on PS3 and PSP, for less than the price of a physical version, then this mini title might be right up your alley. If you’re looking for more house rules or online play, you’ll have to look elsewhere. If you’re not a Monopoly fan… what are you doing reading this far? I told you to stop after the last paragraph.

For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation Portable version of the game.

General Info

  • Occasional glitches & crashes
  • Odd rules interpretations

  • Eric G

    Unskippable animations is kind of weak, but besides for that it sounds good enough.