Monopoly might be a victim of its own success–it’s a game invented to make a point about corporate oligarchies, but it’s too fun to be serious! Given the breadth of the Monopoly empire, we’ve been expecting an App Store version for a while. With EA Mobile and Hasbro throwing their weight behind this iDevice port of its trillion-sold game, we expected great things… and although certain small aspects of the experience could be improved, we were not disappointed.
If you’ve played Monopoly (and we’ll go ahead and bet you have) then you know how the rules of the game work. Since this is a World Edition, the pieces are different (Easter Island Statue, Russian Nesting Dolls, Japanese Sumo, etc.) and the properties are different (Tokyo, New York, and the like), and the currency isn’t US dollar… but, in true Monopoly fashion, nothing has really changed. You still roll your dice to traipse around the board, passing “GO,” collecting properties, charging rent, building hotels, and trying to run the other players into the ground, financially speaking. You shake your iDevice to roll the dice, and everything else is tap-based. It’s easy and intuitive and just right.
EA Mobile has given this version of Monopoly its share of cool touches, too. For instance, you can play with up to four friends on the same iDevice using pass-and-play, or via WiFi, or you can play against any number of computer opponents. The background is customizable; the game music (think elevator music, but pleasant) can be turned off, as can the sound effects; you can adjust the house rules to suit you (double your money if you land on GO, for instance), and so on. It’s a high-quality game experience from the beginning on through. The game plays at just the right pace–fast enough to not seem like forever, but not so fast as to make it seem like you’re being rushed. And if you hit the Home button or otherwise leave a game, it automatically picks up where you left off in the menu screen. That’s the sort of touch that may seem obvious, but trust us, it gets left out of a lot of games.
The game does have a few minor annoyances. For instance, the monocle’d Monopoly guy will come in and give you advice to start off, and we found him a little grating. Luckily, those scenes are quick and can be tapped through. We also got a little tired of watching the other players go through their turns every single go around, but that’s probably more indicative of our impatience than a game flaw. Our biggest complaint is graphical. The animations are interesting and the board looks good, but the scaling is a little poor and the rendering isn’t as good as it should be. A couple tweaks probably would have fixed it, and it’s not a major issue, but we think a game with this much money behind it could have been visually stellar, rather than slightly sub-par.
Overall, though, this is a very solid game of Monopoly, and it’s also a bargain, considering its very high replay value. You certainly can’t buy a standard board edition of Monopoly for $4.99, let alone one you can play over WiFi. If you have any interest at all in playing board games on your iDevice, we think you’re going to like Monopoly. It’s that simple.