Monopoly Review

Title: Monopoly
Developer: Electronic Arts
Game Type: PlayStation Mini
Download: 66 MB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download, Direct Download
EU Availability: Currently Unavailable

There is one kind of game that everyone knows how to play, whether you’re young or old.  Video games span a huge crowd, but there are many people who just don’t like to play video games, or don’t play them.  It’s not that they don’t like games, but not that kind of game.  However, there is one kind of game that even people who hate video games can get into.  Games that were around before that you played on a tabletop.  Board Games.

Board games come in several varieties and there are many different types that many people can recall from memory.  From my childhood, I remember playing the likes of Sorry, Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, and more.  Out of all of the board games, however, there is one game that stand above the rest.  Monopoly.  Monopoly is the property-buying giant that became so popular that there are still themed variations of the game coming out, from Star Wars to Super Mario.

Monopoly holds a special place in many people’s memories.  This writer’s family used to play Monopoly countless times during family get-togethers.  There would be long sessions with food and equally long arguments on whether or not my sisters were cheating and stealing money from the Bank when no one was looking.  When PlayStation Minis were still releasing for the PlayStation Portable, Electronic Arts and Hasbro made a Monopoly game that is now available on the PlayStation Vita.  Here is our review.

Story

Anyone who has played Monopoly can ask this question and not really know an answer.  Is there a story behind this game?  Just what are you doing and trying to accomplish by playing the game?  The fact is that it’s a good question and there may not be an absolute correct answer for it.  The only way to find a story in the game is by looking at what is done in the game and find a story scenario from there.

In Monopoly,  you are traveling and buying property.  So, in essence, you’re a business owner or land retailer buying property and other businesses, all the while setting up fees and costs for anyone wishing to stay at a place you own.  Along with this, you will have to pay money for places you stay at, whether you’re buying them or they are owned by someone else.  In essence, you’re running a huge business.

There isn’t a whole lot else to the story than that and becoming the most successful business around.  There is no real story outlined in the game.  You just sit down and play.

Gameplay

Gameplay of Monopoly takes place on a board, just as it does if you played the actual board game on your own table or floor.  The game has it set up where the game plays exactly the same without any features that aren’t in the actual game, allowing you to experience an authentic Monopoly experience, which is as many board games have been when turned into video games.

You begin on playing on one of eight boards as a character of your choice, along with other human or AI players with their own character pieces.  The board has several locations around a square, from properties to the Jail to Utility companies. Each board has its own set of unique locations and pieces.  There is also the bank, which is invisible during the game, which gives you money when you need it and takes it when you pay for something, such as a property or utility.

During each of your turns, you roll two six-sided die and the results equal how many moves you can make.  You get only one move per roll, unless you roll doubles (like two threes), and that allows you to take extra rolls until you don’t roll doubles.  When you are finished moving and taking action, your player takes a turn and the process repeats until the game is finished.

When you land on something, you can take action.  If you land on a Property, you can either buy it or put it on Auction if you don’t have enough money for it.  Once you buy it, it belongs to you.  If your opponent lands on it, they have to pay you a fee.  Properties are bundled together by colors.  Collect all of a color, and you can start putting houses and hotels on them, which exponentially increases the amount an opponent has to pay upon landing on it.

There are also Community Chests and Chance spots.  If you land on one of these, you are given a card, which can be a variety of different things.  You could get a card that can get you out of Jail for free, or you could get a card with an event that gives you money, or that makes you pay an opponent a certain amount of money.  It’s all a big chance, and there are some good results and bad ones.

Two of the most important places on the board are Jail, Go To Jail, and Go.  Go is the location you start on.  Every time you pass over this location, you get money.  In a standard game, the amount is $200 and can be different depending on how the game is played.  Jail, on the other hand, is something that can hamper your progress.  If you land on the “Go to Jail” location, you are sent to the Jail location and are stuck there for a few turns.  During each following turn, you can either use a “Get Out of Jail Free” card to get out, roll a double to get out, or pay a small fee to get out.  Either way, it causes some unnecessary time to waste while your opponent makes more progress.

The main object of the game has two phases.  The first is collection properties and setting up houses and hotels.  This takes the longest portion of the game as collection a single set of property can take several trips around the board.  The second phase is bankrupting your opponent.  When you run out of money and have to pay a fee, you have to sell properties you already own to the bank, or other players, to be able to afford fees.  When you run out of properties and still cannot pay, you lose.

The object of the game is pretty simple, and this version of the game does offer some unique elements for games.  There are many “House Rules” you can customize.  This varies from you salary upon passing Go to how high Taxes are to how long each player has to stay in jail.  There’s a lot you can customize before you start a game to make it less of a time-sink.  At normal rules, a single game can take anywhere from 45 minutes to a few hours.

As far as unlockables are concerned, there are eight boards in total, all with a different theme.  They go from Classiic, Future, Sweet, Cheese, Jungle, Décor, Cardboard, and World Wide.  When you begin the game, you only have access to one.  Unloicking the next requires you to play and win a game in the previous board.  Since there are eight boards, unlocking every board in the game could easily take you 8-10 hours or more.

Controls

Originally being a game made for the PlayStation Portable, Monopoly has pretty simple controls.  Playing a board game requires everything to be pretty simple, especially with how much patience is required to play even a single game with the AI or friends.

Navigating Menus is done with the D-Pad, but can also be navigated with the Left Analog Stick.  I personally found the D-Pad to be more comfortable and precise with this navigation.  Selecting an option is done with the X button and going back to the previous screen is done with Circle.  The Triangle button is also used, but scarcely.  When a Trade is being made, you can use Triangle to confirm the trade or zoom around the game board before taking action on your turn.

The Select Button is not used at all in the game, though the Start Button brings up a menu, where you can change your options, Quit a game, or Save your progress.  Saving is important as you can save and close the game at any turn and resume right where you left off at a later time.  The L and R buttons are used primarily for navigating the House Rules menu.  For the most part, you’ll only be using the D-Pad and Face Buttons.

Presentation

Presentation is one thing that wasn’t a big problem on the PSP.  When you’re showing a board game, you don’t have to worry about making these super-fancy and dazzling visuals that will stun people.  All you’re showing is a Game Board, some background, and pieces moving around on it.  It doesn’t call for too much complexity.  Unfortunately, stretching Monopoly on the PlayStation Vita screen made the presentation take a hit.

Board Pieces still look crisp and smooth, but the board, itself, doesn’t.  When the game zooms in on the board when showing pieces moving, every little line and letter of the game looks grainy and full of jagged edges.  This is, no doubt, due to the resolution of the PSP game being stretched on the Vita’s screen.  However, despite this, it looks uneven and a little sloppy.  I won’t say it looks terrible but, for what it is, it should look a lot better than it does.

As far as audio is concerned, the developers have done a good job at throwing in music to keep you with the mood of the game.  Monopoly is a game of patience and to go along with this, there is soft, calming music throughout.  To add a little variety, each themed board has its own audio track, and each of them is dedicated towards keeping your mind calm as you slowly progress through each game.

Overall

Overall, Monopoly is an accurate translation of the classic board game onto the PlayStation Minis platform.  While the presentation took a sizeable hit when stretched on the PlayStation Vita’s screen, it remains as calming and fun as it ever was.  With eight boards to unlock and Housing Rules to customize, fans of the board game will have hours upon hours of fun ahead of them, along with a great game for casual play.

The PlayStation Vita Review Network rates Monopoly a 7.5/10.

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