reviews\ Oct 10, 2001 at 8:00 pm

Monopoly Tycoon - PC - Review

When you see the name Monopoly on a product, you expect a certain level of game play and challenge.

Monopoly Tycoon, a PC release from Infogrames and Deep Red, provides exactly that. Yes, there are some drawbacks, but the game play is excellent, and – regardless of the difficulty level you set – the challenge will keep you thinking ahead of the game.

Tycoon is set in a city bearing the street names and some of the attributes of the original Monopoly game. What players are tasked to do is create a business empire by building apartments and businesses to attract the citizens of the city. How you accomplish that task is the key. Each game is built upon a 24-hour period, after which the play advances in five-year increments for another 24-hour period.

Click on the city block known as Indiana Avenue. There may be a building or two already in the lot, more than likely owned by the city. You can purchase the building, but you had better watch your cash outlay. If your cash goes into the red at the end of the first business day, you will survive to the next day. But if your cash remains in the red, it’s game over.

Once you have clicked on the block, you can lease that block and gain the building rights. However, in order to ‘own’ the block (which means all your businesses are rent free and businesses or residential buildings owned by other players will earn you a rental fee), you will have to go to auction. Each character in the auction bids until the property is leased to the winning bidder.

However, while you don’t need to ‘own’ the block, it does come in handy in conducting surveys to find which businesses the city’s inhabitants want or need. A clothing business is always welcome, but you also have to take care of amenities such as furniture stores, food stores, eateries, and health complexes.

If you own utilities, you will gain income from those businesses as well. There is a chance that you will draw a card (much like the community chest or chance cards of the original board game) that will have you paying customers for inadequacies.

Then the game takes off. The little folk scurrying about the city will visit your businesses (which can be built anywhere within the city at any time) and you will receive income. In the evening, daytime businesses will close their doors and the evening’s businesses (like cinemas, theatres, ballrooms, restaurants and bars) will open to continue adding to your income.

The control elements of the game are very good, and once you learn how each operates (a window which opens on the sides of the screen), you will have a great chance at success.

The graphics are also very good. There was a bit of video breakup in areas off to the sides, but this happened very seldom. The animation of the city is otherwise remarkable. The lighting of the town changes as the day progresses, with little cars zipping around, and streetlights and building lights coming on as the day wanes. This game combines three-dimensional elements with two-dimensional ones very nicely. Even the latter gives the appearance of being 3D through the use of the camera angles, which are easily manipulated.

The sound of the game – what little there really is – is also well done, though it consists mostly of a music score and the same building sounds.

Where the game falters is in the methods of play. You can play single person - which isn’t open-ended but consists of a variety of scenarios, each with a goal to be achieved – or multiplayer. The problem with these modes is that more than one person cannot play on the same computer at the same time. The only way to play a multiplayer game is either through a LAN or modem, or through the GameSpy network. Part of the reason that a family can’t compete together as individuals is that this game is not turn based. It has a constant flow. In the single-person game you can pause time, but you can’t in the multiplayer game. You can also speed up time in a single-person outing, but not in the multiplayer setting.

Make no mistake, this is a well-done program, and it presents a nice twist not only on the original Monopoly title, but on the economic sim genre as well.

This game is rated for Everyone.

Install: Easy
The maximum installation is 200 megs while the minimum is 140. The game installs quite quickly.

Gameplay: 8
The continuous time element is excellently done, and moving around the city (whether to take in the sights or to build your empire) is a breeze. If there is any drawback – and this is understandable – it would be that multiplayer means multiple computers, not more than one person on the same machine. And yes, that has to do with how the game is played.

Graphics: 7.5
A few little breakups on the periphery of the game knock down this score a bit, and the citizen animation consists of the same figures all moving exactly the same. However, the city graphics are very well done.

Sound: 7
This program is low on audio variety, but what there is supports the game well.

Difficulty: 8.5
Three difficulty levels will give any player the challenge he or she is looking for. Even at the easiest level, as you progress through the scenarios, the game becomes tougher without a solid game plan, and an eye on what the citizens of this city want or need.

Concept: 8.5
This game is very well done, and presents a nice twist on the Monopoly line of games as well as taking the economic sim genre, simplifying it a bit and making it accessible to anyone.

Multiplayer: 8
Up to five players can compete in six multiplayer games through a LAN or the GameSpy network. GameSpy installation comes with the package.

Overall: 8
A well-done program, featuring wonderful animated graphics in a nicely stylized city. This will be an addictive program, holding players’ attention and making them plan strategies. This is not a reflexive game, nor does it rely on luck (in spite of the random ‘chance’ card element). Monopoly Tycoon is a terrific family-style game that, unfortunately, will only allow one player at a time (per computer) to play. But if you enjoy the challenge of Monopoly, the basic game, you will enjoy this variation.


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