Reviews// Monopoly

Posted 16 Nov 2017 15:07 by
I have always had a bit of a fascination with Monopoly. As a child, we rarely played the game at home, mostly because my dad, being a keen socialist, was not a massive fan of the game. My own political views have some sympathy with this viewpoint, although I would argue that the game can be used to demonstrate, on a crude level, the extent to which capitalism divides friends, families and eventually ends up with the majority being rather miserable subsequent to the triumph of individual greed.

That being said, the game can still be rather fun to play. My wife enjoys playing the game with me, I suspect largely because I am not very good at it and she usually manages to win quite easily.

Over the years, we have tried quite a few of the computer versions of Monopoly and have often played the iPad version together. All of these versions have one thing in common, they each attempt to offer something that the card and paper based version of the game cannot. That is, AI opponents and animated visual representations of the Monopoly board.

The Switch version of Monopoly is no different, with a few important caveats. Firstly, it is easily the most visually impressive version of the game I have played in videogame format.

Secondly, it is also probably the most complete version of Monopoly I have experienced. The game features online and offline play, the choice between 'classic' and 'modern' boards and an impressive level of game customisation.

However, in its current state it is rather difficult to recommend Monopoly. Following its release, it became apparent that the game is suffering from a rather unfortunate bug that severely limits the chance for players to have 'a quick game of Monopoly.'

Upon launch the game currently takes 5-8 minutes to load. In addition, after choosing a mode of play, loading the board took a further 5-8 minutes. Ubisoft is aware of this problem and will hopefully release a patch in the coming days or weeks. It can be overcome by simply restarting the Switch, however it is difficult to understand how the game could be released with such a significant flaw.

Although the game's presentation is generally excellent, the extent to which it has been rather overdesigned also quickly becomes apparent. My wife was particularly irritated by the commentator, who continuously throws out quips during each game. Fortunately, he can be turned off, as can the rather monotonous music.

Although the attention to visual detail is commendable, it does tend to slow games down. Games of Monopoly can last several hours and having to watch the same animations repeatedly can become rather tiresome. I was rather hoping there may have been an option to turn off animations entirely to speed up the experience.

That being said, each board is fantastically animated. It is clear that a great deal of effort, care and imagination has been put into the game. This is evident from not only the range of boards, but also options for play open to the player. It is just a shame that the game does not feature a little more customisation for the animations.

Overall, this and indeed most board game adaptations would probably benefit from taking a more simplified approach, stripping back some of the animations and focussing on what makes the core game enjoyable. Monopoly on Switch has everything that the game should have, there are just too many obstacles in the way to make it feel as accessible as setting up a real board and playing with card and paper.

Pros:
+ Visually impressive.
+ Extremely customisable.
+ Online and offline play.

Cons:
- Loading bugs are unfortunate.
- Gameplay is rather slow.
- Obnoxious commentator.

SPOnG Score: 6/10

(Editorial note: the loading bug has now been fixed and the review score has been modified from 5/10 to 6/10 to reflect this.)

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