The original is finally here, and it’s just as fun as you imagined!
I say this because there are certainly people out there who don’t enjoy the classic Monopoly game. A very small, deprived, and terribly lame group of people. If you don’t imagine Monopoly as being fun, you probably won’t enjoy Monopoly. Logic FTW. EA’s Monopoly is the real deal; all that and a bag of chips, even. It is the classic and original American version of the game. I’m not going to go into the rules of the game because… well, it’s FRIGGIN’ MONOPOLY.
After purchasing this game, I woke up last Saturday and promptly played a game against 3 AI opponents. That’s right, I sat in bed and played Monopoly on my iPhone for the first hour+ of my Saturday.
Due to the games great 3D graphics and slick interface, I enjoyed myself quite a lot more than I was expecting. My expectations weren’t set to high for the game’s AI, as I have played against boardgame AI in the past and they’re never quite up to snuff. This is still pretty much the case with Monopoly, but the AI wasn’t absolutely terrible. The biggest flaw is that the AI appears to measure trades based soley on property value, and not things like “Oh crap, if I give him this property he’ll have a monopoly and buy 8 houses with the $1,000 in the bank!” Granted, there’s a reason it’s called artificial intelligence, but I would have liked them to factor more into their decisions. But frankly, Monopoly is not a game designed to be played by yourself, with or without robot opponents. When I downloaded the game, I noticed someone complaining that the AI opponents “rig the dice”. Really!? I mean REALLY!? You must say the same thing when you lose to human opponents then. It’s called “chance” for a reason, buddy.
That said, the multiplayer in Monopoly is an absolute blast. The game features up to 4 players via wifi, and 3 players via bluetooth. I played a wifi game with 2 other friends and a mid-level AI opponent. The game lasted about 90 minutes, and played out just like a normal Monopoly game would. There was plenty of trash talking and bogus trades taking place. The game even features an awesome chat system that allows you to both publicaly and privately chat with players. This adds a level of strategy that you can’t really get with the actual board game. That is, being able to arrange things with players that no
one else knows about. Sneaky! I’m really crossing my fingers that we’ll see online multiplayer in the future.
To me, the key in Monopoly has always been trading properties and money with opponents. This is a huge part of the board game, and is executed extremely well on the iPhone. It’s as simple as choosing a player, choosing what you want from him, and choosing what you want to offer. This can be money, properties, and even “Get out of Jail FREE” cards! (I was quite surprised at the latter, as trading the jail free card has always been a running joke when I play.) That player can then accept, decline, or make a counter offer. Another important part of Monopoly is the auctioning system. Per the rules, if a player lands on a property but doesn’t want to buy it, it is auctioned off to the highest bidder. This is done well with the bid going from one player to the next until everyone is out except one. I wish that once the bid got high enough, players without enough money were automatically dropped, but that’s not a huge deal.
Monopoly is very customizable, with things like starting cash, auctions, free parking money, and the GO payout on the list to be configured. You can even customize how many houses you need to get a hotel, or if properties are automatically given out at the beginning of the game. A lot of people play Monopoly in a certain style, or with specific rules, and it really feels like EA went out of their way to provide for these players.
One final thing that impressed me about Monopoly was the options for getting out of debt. If you have to pay someone more than you have, your money goes into the negative. At this point you can either manually sell houses, mortgage property, etc, or you can have the game do it for you. With the press of a button, the game will sell houses on/mortgage your least valued properties. You can select each property to see individual stats, such as the investment to profit ratio. The game sold what I would have sold about 95% of the time. Aside from that, it’s just plain cool to see exactly how well your investments are paying off in the long run.
I have only have a couple complaints with Monopoly. Just a few slight downs in what is an extremely polished and enjoyable Monopoly experience. Currently, you have to end your turn every time you’re done playing. It would be nice to put a counter on this if the player isn’t doing anything, as we found outselves constantly having to remind the other players to end their turn. I suppose this isn’t as big a deal for local games, but if Monopoly goes
online it will be a necessity. Also, EA REALLY needs to add the ability to just pinch and zoom to look around the board at will. Currently, you can only swipe from one property to another, and sometimes you just want to get a good close up view of things without having to swipe through everything.
Oh and one more thing. In the middle of us playing, I was dumb and put my phone into standby mode. When I came back, my friends had all been kicked on their phones. However, they were able to immediately continue and join right back! Monopoly had saved our game on all our phones, and allowed us to immediately resume. That’s hot.
Game Rating – EDITOR’S CHOICE
EA’s Monopoly brings the classic board game experience to the iDevices with an obvious appreciation and love of the game. You will be hard pressed to find a play style that can’t be replicated by customizing the experience, and that’s no easy feat. The graphics and interfaces are excellent, and there’s even some classy music if you so feel inclined. Sure the AI isn’t amazing, but it’s passable if you insist on not playing with friends. But if you and your iPhone/Touch wielding friends are fans of Monopoly, this will be an easy choice while on a road trip, or simply waiting for a movie to start. Hell, my friends and I played it while lounging in the living room. It’s 100% Monopoly, with 0% of the mess and hassle of the board game. (not that that’s terrible or anything, haha)