STAFF REVIEW of Monopoly (Xbox 360)


Wednesday, November 5, 2008.
by Rick Wallace

Monopoly Box art EA Games brings the popular board game of Monopoly to the Xbox 360 console and for all intended purposes of playing Monopoly, its a fairly fun game. But setting aside the basic gameplay that is expected this tile falls short in more ways than not. Despite being considered a budget title at its $39.99 suggested retail price, the game itself really should have been released as an Xbox Live Arcade title with a price tag of no more than $20. Why is that? Well lets get into the review and find out.

From the moment you start up the game you'll be familiar with most of whats going on. Its a matter of learning the controller layout for performing tasks such as buying properties or building houses. The game controls are very basic and only require hovering a pointer over certain items and pressing the A button to perform the task at hand. Unfortunately there is no skip cut scenes option, so some of the gameplay gets drawn out longer than it should while Mr Monopoly wets his pants and explains in a jubilant voice what could be happening or what just happened. This can tend to get very repetitive and again is unfortunate that you cannot skip past his mumbling. Other than that, the controls are simple and each and every option is performed with a simple button press.

The game itself ships with a total of 9 different themed Monopoly boards from the Classic version to a World version and even a Sweets version. Each board has properties themed to the specific board such as World Cities for the World Board and the typical Atlantic City street names for the classic board. All the things you are familiar with on the real life board are included with the virtual boards such as Chance, Community Chest and the typical Pay Tax spaces. To unlock these new boards you'll have to play the ones already unlocked. You have whats called a passport which you get stamped each time you land on a property you have never landed on. These stamps are collected and you'll attain certain plateaus of stamps collected to open up the new boards.


There are 2 gameplay modes plus 9 mini games for your enjoyment as well. Obviously you have the typical Monopoly game where its your goal to buy as many properties as possible, form monopolies, build houses and hotels and collect rent from the other players with the final goal of bankrupting each person. Unfortunately the game only allows up to 4 players in a game at a time unlike the 8 that could play in the real life version. Oh and by the way, there is NO multiplayer over Xbox Live. Multiplayer is only local and is a huge disappointment for this game and probably a deciding factor as to whether folks will buy it or only rent it. Who in the heck made this decision and what were they smoking?

The second gameplay mode is called the Richest Edition, which gives you 3 gameplay modes within itself. Each gameplay mode has a different goal and strategy and really does not have much in common with the original game other than it uses the same boards and properties. The modes are as follows: Developer, Industrialist, and Tycoon. Another huge downfall to the game is that each player in this game mode must have their own controller. You cannot share a controller among players. Again, who is making these decision and why?


In Developer mode consists of 6 rounds where players will compete in mini games to determine who is the Richest player. Before each round, 4 die are thrown and the numbers on those die determine the amount of player pieces for each player are dropped onto the board. If you come in first you'll get to choose which die amount you want, and so forth down the line. For instance, if a 6 is displayed and you choose it, then 6 of your game pieces are dropped randomly onto the board. You'll have to pay rent in the form of your own properties if you land on other player properties, or you can buy unowned properties that you land on. The goal of this game once again is to see who is the richest player by the end of the 6 rounds which is obtained by owning the most properties on the board in most cases. This game typically takes 30 minutes or less to lay a full game. The Industrial mode is basically a longer version of the Developer mode with 9 rounds rather than 6. More spaces come into lay with this round Finally in the Tycoon mode is the longest of the 3 Richest Edition gameplay modes and lasts a total of 12 rounds. A trading session occurs every 3 rounds which allows players to form monopolies by trading properties with another player whom may have your final piece of the 3. All aspects of the regular edition are included in this mode and it will take you approximately an hour to play.

As mentioned, there are 9 mini games included as well which can be played individually from the main menu as long as you have them unlocked. If you have played the game in any of the Richest Edition games modes, then it will be unlocked for you. There is a little variety here in types of games, but for most players it will not be the part of the game you spend most of your time on. The 9 mini games are as follows: Get Out of Jail, Go to Jail, Pay Hospital Bill, Pay Doctor's Fee, Take a Ride on the Reading, Elected Chairperson of the Board, Sale of Stock, Advance to Go, Christmas Fund Matures, Pay School Tax, Bank Pays You Dividends, and Advance to Nearest Railroad. As I stated most of these games are fun to give a go a few times, but that will be about the extent of you enjoyment. If you have kids, they may enjoy this part of the game a little more so than the regular monopoly game.


Graphically, the game is sharp and the different board variations are well done and representative of their themes. I honestly could do without Mr. Monopoly strolling the inner part of the board, especially when you have to wait for him to finish talking before proceeding onto the task at hand. Another thing that irritated me was the fact that anytime you advanced to Go or some property via a Chance or Community Chest card, you would have to actually watch the player piece hop every square on the board to get from point A to point B. Could you please let me skip that?

The sounds are what is to be expected with themed music for each board, Mr. Monopoly's voiceovers, and the rolling of the die and hopping of the game pieces on the gameboard. Nothing really that says a lot of effort was put into the sound aspects of this game.

When it all boils down to it, the lack of multiplayer for this game is a huge disappointment and will probably be the main reason the game is not embraced by most folks. Also the fact that many more technical and masterpiece games have been released on arcade giving EA no reason not to have considered this as an XBLA title with a lower price tag than $40. There really are way to many little annoyances beside the lack of Xbox Live that make this game collect dust on your gaming shelf rather quickly. If you must have your monopoly fix, then by all means head out and pick this one up but really you could probably pick up the newest edition of the actual board game and have a lot more fun with it.



Suggestions:
The biggest and most important suggestion is to include mulitplayer on Xbox Live. How can this be left out of a social baord game??? Also please allow players to skip cut scenes or speed up play with the press of a button such as holding the A button to make pieces move faster, etc. I was looking forward to this game but feel really let down after actually playing it without the suggestions made.


Overall: 5.0 / 10
Gameplay: 6.0 / 10
Visuals: 6.0 / 10
Sound: 5.0 / 10

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