Nov 30, 2011

[Games] Monopoly Streets (PS3)

Monopoly is clearly one of the world's oldest and most well-known games out there. For most people, no childhood could have been completely without have once played the game whether you owned the set yourself or otherwise.

These days Monopoly has evolved into an entire franchise of games based around the core concept including card games and of course video games.

I wasn't expecting to enjoy this game at first - my old childhood was littered with traumatic Monopoly defeats mostly due to more skilled or perhaps just luckier family members. But all it took was a long game night with some friends that I haven't seen in a while to change my mind about things.

I guess part of the reasons that this game sort of works for me is the fact that it aggregates a lot of different Monopoly variants into a single console game. That provides for a respectable amount of flexibility and a lot of versatility for a single title.

But there are still times when the way the dice fall infuriates me to no end. Mr. Monopoly has it in for me, I just know it.

Monopoly Streets is a console adaptation available for the PlayStation 3. It was released late last year, thus it's already part of the more recent PS3 releases that includes trophy support.

The game's core premise is pretty much like the original board game. Players take turns moving around a virtual board as they buy up properties, charge rent to one another and hope to drain other players' funds until they are the sole property owner in the game. In this regard, the game does translate this into a console-friendly version quite well with all the little bells and whistles of the original game intact (down to the signature player pieces).

Where the game does really well is how it includes more recent innovations to the Monopoly experience such as the option to add the Speed Die to the game and other variant modes. Plus the game also includes a large number of customization options for the rules that include a lot of house rule variants that we might have come across as kids. Good examples include having the Free Parking space collect all the taxes and fees for whoever can land on the space or giving the player twice the normal salary when they land precisely on the Go space.

All twelve tokens from the U.S. Deluxe Edition...
Image via Wikipedia
The game does shake things up a bit by representing players not just as their chosen icons (like the classic top hat or the boot), but also as quirky characters associated with your selected token. For example, choosing the wheelbarrow gives you a farmer while choosing the race car naturally gives you a race car driver. In addition to these characters, the game is now played either on a virtual board in some creative setting (like a candy-themed board amid sweet treats) or in a virtual city that reflects your changes to your properties in various ways. It does make things a bit more dynamic and unique to the video game experience instead of just being a TV-depicted version of the board game.

The characters do get a bit annoying over time though and as a player you will be forced to watch even the AI-controlled players roll the dice and move around the board every turn. There are some options to limit these interactions, but they only go so far. Plus the graphics aren't exactly the sort that will win awards or anything with a lot of the boards seeming to be a bit rushed and not as well thought-out as they could have been. For example, the aforementioned candy board had some interesting visuals in the background however the board itself just happened to be brown and not much else. The game gives you the option to purchase more custom boards online, but I'm not sure if it's worth the price given the lack of craftsmanship we've seen thus far.

The game is still rather lengthy to play even with the other variations of the rules designed to speed up play, which is something that connects back to the original game design. But with the option for up to 4 local or online players, it does provide a lot of potential variety for you and friends come one party night, like how we got started with the game.

Monopoly Streets is still a great port of the original game that promises a lot of  game board fun for fans of the franchise. It's still a heck of a game to play so be sure to have a lot of time set aside before you engage in a session. The game rates a solid 4 weird non-word utterances made by the characters out of a possible 5.

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