reviews\ Dec 25, 2002 at 7:00 pm

Monopoly Party - XB - Review

What happens when you take a tried-and-true classic board game, jumble it and speed it up a bit and throw it onto a console platform?

Monopoly Party may be the only answer to that question. Infogrames and Runecraft have partnered to bring all the intricacies of the classic title to the Xbox, but have added a few twists and turns to liven it up.

For instance, four players can play almost simultaneously. Forget what the box says, this is not a hyper-paced journey around the classic board. Each player can play at the same time, but the game pauses at the end of each turn to resolve all action, and players can initiate trades, which also stall the frenetic pace of the game.

When it comes to the boards, there are a variety of themes you can play, each with unique characters or tokens that are associated with the theme. If you play on the fantasy setting, you can choose from an elf, troll, knight, wizard, et cetera, and a dragon will hover above your character as it moves around the board. Should you draw a “go directly to jail” card, the dragon will scoop you up and rush you to the room with the bars.

The property names also change to suit the theme.

The screen is divided into four segments (for a four-person game), and a single player can have three computer counterparts to play against, or three other human friends. Trades will happen, and the AI may – on occasion – make some goofy deals which will guarantee their defeat.

As for the game modes, these are customizable. You can have the classic game, or you can tweak a version to suit your own goals. Some people like to have a payout for landing on Free Parking, or double the salary for landing on Go. Those are among the options you can work into your own game.

The game does come with a tutorial in order to familiarize players with the control elements (which are much easier to understand if you know the game to begin with), and the initial response was that the trade screen was a little more complicated than it needed to be. But after playing the game for 10 minutes or so, and rejecting every trade offer until all the properties were purchased, the whole scheme began to fall into place.

You can also hold an auction for properties not purchased by the player landing on them, but this element only really works well with three or four players.

The animation is average and the game interface is reasonably easy to work through. The game sounds are solid and the themes are well designed.

Monopoly Party is a new twist on a classic game. It does have some nice elements (such as if you are not fond of digging out the money and sorting the properties, or playing banker on the board game, you can dispense with all that fuss and muss), and the game play is fast. Will it replace the board game? No. There is almost something too sanitary about this console version that seems to take the essential core out of the board game, but Monopoly Party is a solid game that does have a place in the family gaming realm.

Reviewer's Scoring Details

Gameplay: 7
The core game is here though the game does not play “super fast” as the box would state, nor is it “always your turn.” A resolution phase happens at the end of each turn and play will not resume until all action has taken place. You could almost do this with the board game and multiple sets of dice. This is much cleaner though, without different sets of hands grabbing for the Community Chest cards.

Graphics: 6.5
More obviously could have been done here. The themes are well designed and supported by the tokens and boards. However, what about actually seeing houses or hotels erected rather than just click and they are there. The animation also fits the tokens and is solid. The payout graphics may be festive, but they are a touch silly.

Sound: 7
The game does capture the appropriate sound elements of the game, and does inject a party atmosphere into the proceedings.

Difficulty: Easy
The computer AI can propose some silly trades and make mistakes in deals, and it is easy for one or two real players to gang up on others. The control elements do seem a little convoluted at the initial onset of the game, but players should understand them rather quickly.

Concept: 6.8
The idea of each player being able to play each round simultaneously is nice, but the themes and animation aside, most of what this game offers can be realized in the board game version.

Multiplayer: 7
The overall game time is cut down, but this game still does take time to play out. Playing against other people, especially in this game, is infinitely more fun than playing as a solo player against the computer.

Overall: 6.8
Monopoly Party basically takes a great board game, translates it to the console system, adds a couple of wrinkles unavailable in the real-life game, and calls it good. Something does seem to be missing in this translation, and the game seems a little sanitized, but this would be a decent game for a family afternoon.

Above Average

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