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January 8, 2002
Monopoly Party - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen

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A Deep Space 9 resemblance?
Before I start the review of Monopoly Party a little history about the game Monopoly. The board game was developed in 1934 by Charles B. Darrow of Germantown, Pennsylvania and upon first showing the game to Parker Brothers was rejected due to "52 design errors". Charles started selling the game himself and after sales of 5,000 handmade sets he returned to Parker Brothers for help. The rest, as they say is history. Since then over 200 million games have been sold worldwide with over 500 million people playing the game. Most tellingly the longest game ever has lasted 1680 hours - 70 straight days.

But now onto the review. Upon starting up Monopoly Party you are provided with two main gameplay modes. The first is classic, the second Party. In either of these modes it is possibly to totally configure the rules to your liking. This includes Free Parking giving players money from income collected by the bank, building properties evenly, purchasing property the first time around the board, the number of houses and hotels among others. The Classic game mode is played virtually identically to the board game. That is, players take turns to move, buy and sell properties as usual, and spend hours playing. Typical Monopoly.

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The great party mode.
If you're after something a little more interesting, and quick then the Party mode may be more your style of game. In this mode all four players (which can include 1-4 human players) roll the die simultaneously and move at the same time. If two or more players land on the same property and wish to purchase it the computer then starts and auction between the players. At times you'll be able to pick up a bargain however if its the last property in the set the prices will usually go sky high. This Party mode really is the highlight of this packaged. As with the Classic mode the computer handles all the banking affairs so there is not cheating or mistakes. Another bonus is that the game keeps track of your performance such as wins, most cash and overall rankings.

Looking at this overall package it's clear that it could have been so much better. The most notable exception is online gameplay, and while that would have delayed the title in Australia considerably, not even America will have online gameplay despite the PC game including it and the strong sales of the broadband adapter (which have surpassed 400,000 units in that territory). The Chance and Community Chest cards are also disappointing and haven't even been designed to match the game theme that you are currently playing. Also disappointing is the inability to set and then save your preferred game rules to memory card. You can't even save your preference for currency such as British Pound, Euros or Dollars. Finally, and as far as I can tell, it's impossible to look at the stats of your own or your opponents properties to see what rent is payable for hotels and houses.

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The alien is pretty cool.
Graphics in this game are generally functional. The developers have included several themes such as Space, Ancient Ruins and Prehistoric Times as well as the classic Monopoly board. It would have been nice to see some of the numerous "real" themed games such as Star Wars Monopoly, Toy Story Monopoly, AFL Monopoly (for Aussie fans) or Disney Monopoly, but this sadly isn't the case. Each of the tokens in this game are nicely animated as they move from square to square but thankfully you can skip this animation. The board can also be viewed from multiple angles including one from directly above. Once again the developers let us down by not including a rotation option. The biggest crime of all however is the way in which the game zooms right in on the property being auctioned, but in doing so doesn't allow you to see who owns the properties on either side.

The sound from Monopoly Party is very average. The game has some nice plinky plonk type background tunes that are easily forgettable and add nothing to the game. You may as well put the radio on in the background instead. The sound effects are almost non-existent - but then again besides the rolling die there is little else to add to a title such as this. The main sound however comes from the announcer "You've rolled a double", "That was a ding dong battle", "Go to jail". It's no exactly riveting stuff, and you'll soon tire of the annoying voice. This is one area of the game that could have been improved in almost every regard.

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A development screenshot.
This has been such a strange game to review. On the one hand it's technically poor. The camera angles during auctions are terribly and needed changing, but it is still Monopoly - and very addictive. The ability to change any of the numerous rules is a great bonus to the game while the 4-player support was a no brainer. The trading of properties needs refining, and it should be possible to look at the details of each property - where is it? The real question really remains - why pay $70 for this title when you can buy the board game for almost half that price? And hell, isn't stealing money from the banker when he/she isn't looking half the fun?

GRAPHICSIt's a monopoly board, exciting eh? Could be better camera angles.
SOUNDThe announcer becomes annoying, the music is adequate, effects fine.
GAMEPLAYIf you've ever played monopoly... the party mode is quite good.
VALUE$69.95 for the digital game, $40 for the board game? Your choice.
OVERALLIf you're after a digital version of Monopoly then Monopoly Party should suffice - although the PC game includes online gameplay. The question remains - why bother? A real board game is easier to see and much cheaper. A solid if somewhat pointless title.

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