Developer: EA Games
Price: $4.99
Version Reviewed: 1.1.13

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½

iPhone Integration Rating: ★★★★☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★★☆

Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

IMG_0200But wait, I hear you say. Hasn’t Monopoly been out on the App Store for…well, forever?

Actually, that’s the Monopoly: Here & Now edition. This is MONOPOLY, the classic edition, complete with Reading Railroad and Park Place and Illinois Avenue and all of the other properties that you remember, along with classic tokens like the Thimble and the Race Car. Add the ability to customize the rules, and this is sure to be Monopoly just as you remember it. Unfortunately, this version isn’t perfect—memory use is an issue, there’s no pass-and-play, and the graphics could use some work—but it’s the Monopoly we all know and love.

(One quick, obligatory disclaimer: I haven’t played Monopoly: Here & Now, but you can check out our review of Here & Now.)

This version of Monopoly definitely emphasizes the classic feel. Your in-game soundtrack, for example, consists of “Swing,” “Smooth,” and “Jazz” options, though you can use your own tunes if you like. Everything is faithful to the original. My favorite feature by far is the ability to set House Rules, customizing everything from whether to have auctions to whether landing on Go (versus just passing it) nets you a double salary.

You can play against up to three AI opponents, though WiFi and Bluetooth multiplayer are both options as well. (No global online multiplayer, though—while its absence isn’t surprising, I’d love to have the feature.) When starting a game, you can chose your token, set a backdrop (the living room? the kitchen?), and the difficulty level of the AIs. In general, the computer opponents played fairly well: they weren’t inhumanly talented, but nor did they exhibit unbridled stupidity.

IMG_0202Gameplay works perfectly on the iPhone—all of the various processes such as trading and mortgaging are simple and quick to do. You play on a 3D rendering of the board, and the app takes care of silly real-word things like moving your pieces, so the game progresses quickly. Everything is streamlined, and gracefully so; you’re not losing any features. Plus, the game’s autosave is top-notch. It’s a natural fit for the platform.

Now for my complaint list. First of all, Monopoly is apparently a memory hog, as I consistently received warnings from the app about “not enough memory” that advised me to restart my iPod. I did, and nothing changed…but since this really didn’t affect gameplay, it’s not such a big deal. Lag occasionally popped up, but it was tolerable. Some of the graphics could use some work, too; the dice in particular weren’t very convincing. I think they took the “classic” thing a bit too far: sometimes, the animations seem a bit…outdated. It’s no dealbreaker, though, and the camera angles work perfectly.

My three biggest pet peeves, though? First, the Fast Forward button doesn’t work half of the time, likely because it’s too small. Likewise, it’s easy to zoom in on the board instead of rolling the dice, as many of the buttons are cramped. And finally, there’s no Pass ‘n’ Play mode. What’s up with that, EA? I know that you can do it. These problems add rough edges to an otherwise great game.

That being said, none of these problems hindered my fun significantly once the game got rolling, and any strong fan should be able to deal with them. Hopefully we’ll see an update that fixes the fast-forward button, at least.

If you’re a Monopoly fan, but just want the classic experience instead of the Here & Now edition, you should find little at fault with EA’s latest port. Personally, I like it a lot better than the board game because it’s so much faster: no fumbling for dice, no calculations to do. The AI’s are pretty smart and usually make sound decisions, and it’s a lot of fun. This is a good port of a fantastic board game, and any longtime fan should be pleased to have a quick-moving version of Monopoly in their pocket.

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