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Intro: Since getting my iphone, I've found the myself browsing the apple app store more times than my wallet should allow. The lure of the pretty apps with all their cute gadgetry gets too much - I find myself downloading apps left, right and centre (although to be fair, most of them are free). To help fight my addiction, I go for the strategy of paying for apps, that get endorsement with good user reviews - I figure, if I'm paying, I'll want to get the value! One that caught my attention was Monopoly. I've always liked the game, but found the set up so tedious - giving out the money, organising the cards, fighting over who gets to be the top hat...by the time the game begins, about half an hour has already passed! The price was considerably more than a standard app at an extraordinarily high price of £2.99. With an itunes gift card in my hand, I went for it (hoping my wallet would appreciate the respite!)
What's Monopoly: As succinctly as I can make it; Monopoly is the property buying game - where you make your way round a city (usually London) and whilst doing so, you can buy land. You can choose to build property on those places, to earn yourself more money. As you land on other player's space, you inevitably have to pay them rent. The winner is the last player not to go bankrupt and thus have the most money.
What's an app: Very simply put, it's a little piece of software that sits on your phone or electronic device that has a specific function. It can be anything from a tool to a game thus enhancing your phone's capability.
What the...?: I can hear you thinking "Monopoly on your phone! Eh? How does that work?" - I thought exactly the same thing. My assumption was that it had to be a completely scaled down version of the game, as I had seen other boardgame-to-app games before that didn't deliver on it's promise of sheer comparability to the original version. The game is produced by Electronic Arts Nederland BV - EA are huge players in the world on digital gaming - they boast hits such as 'The Sims' and 'Rockband'.
Game play: The overall concept is impressive. You are playing in more or less, exactly the same way you would, if you were playing the game in real life. You can choose to play on your own, against the computer (well, iPhone) one on one, or even against as many as 3 AI's (artifical intelligence... the iPhone). You can also set the level of difficulty you play against too (I'm not sure how the game can be played harder, the roll of the dice is all down to "luck", surely?). Some people have commented that the dice is bias towards the computer, but I'm not sure - I can't help feeling that that's just an excuse for being a bad sportsman! You get to choose if you want to be the dog, hat, boot, iron, battleship or wheelbarrow (why would anyone want to be a wheelbarrow?). As you take your turn, you can shake the iPhone to roll the dice (cool, huh?), or just tap a button - I usually take the 'touch the button' option, because as you get comfy, about to play, I found it quite tedious to have to shake the bloody phone every 2 minutes.
Longevity and value: I've been known to play this game for well over an hour - and that's on the one round of game, not by playing over and over. The beautiful thing about the game is you can save it, and come back to it later. So, you can dip in and dip out as you see fit - without running out of time. Apart from the novelty editions of the board game, the only other versions I've played are scaled down dice versions (boring) and smaller travel-esque versions. These can set you back quite a price for the convenience of being able to play on the go. When you consider that this app is a measly £2.99 (yes, you may gasp, as it is indeed at the high end price bracket of the app world, but come on, it's £3 - that's the same price as a pint of beer in most bars) you are getting exceptional value for money. You can very easily buy many mediocre apps for 59p, or even get some free, but the quality you are getting can be short lived, but with the Monopoly app, you really are getting a good deal. I have only had the app for a couple of months now, and in that time have played a lot - not once have I experienced it crashing, resetting or generally going wrong.
Downsides: The only thing I'm not too keen on with this, is that compared to playing in real life, you are limited with the amount of planning you can do. When you have the board in front of you, you can ponder over your next move, do a lot of forward planning, easily peep over at other player's properties, work out some deals etc - get a real 360 feel for what's going on in the game. But with this, it's almost as if you are playing with blinkers on, as when another player takes their turn, you have to follow their moves around the board which can be frustrating. You are given a 'live feed' commentary that you can retrace to find out exactly what deals have happened between other players, what they bought, if they had to mortgage anything, but it's not quite the same, it's very easy to miss something. You can't speed up their moves either, so when you are playing against 3 AI players, it can get quite dull waiting for them to take their turns and hop around the board.
Verdict: I love this app. The game is a real pleasure to play. The animations are cute, neatly designed and of high quality. It is often the game I turn to when I have a bit of spare time and want a distraction. It's quite addictive and quenches the gaming addict in me to always win Mayfair and force other players to pay me lots of rent whenever they jump on me. I would say buy it, don't even flinch at the prospect of paying more than 59p for an app! You are getting great value for money.