|Publisher: MacSoft Genre: Board & Card|
|Min OS X: Not Supported CPU: Any CPU @ 225 MHz RAM: 64 MB Hard Disk: 5 MB 2x CD-ROM Graphics: 800x600 @ 16-bit|
Money. It may be the root of all evil, but it’s also the inspiration behind the world’s favourite board game. Along with Scrabble (the world’s favourite word game), Monopoly is a very obvious candidate for implementation on a computer, and various attempts have been made over the years. Only a matter of a couple of months after the release of an all-new version of Scrabble, Hasbro Interactive and MacSoft have teamed up to bring Mac players a star-spangled new implementation of Monopoly with OpenGL-based graphics that claim to put all previous versions in the shade.
A dream come true?My first experience of computerized Monopoly was about fifteen years ago on my trusty Sinclair ZX Spectrum (the UK’s favourite 8-bit home micro). Leisure Genius’ implementation of Monopoly featured a small, perspective representation of the board and a scrolling strip of properties in close-up at the bottom of the screen. I enjoyed that game enormously, and ever afterwards dreamt of the day when computers would become powerful enough for the Monopoly board to be shown realistically in 3D, spinning around and viewed from all angles as the counters moved around it.
So, when I first heard of this new implementation of Monopoly, I thought that my dream of a decade and a half ago had finally come true. Photo-realistic graphics, a board viewable from multiple angles and counters that hop around just as in a real game? Well, as I’ll explain below, the dream hasn’t quite come true yet, but this new game does indeed have spectacular graphics.
A fairly recent trend with Monopoly is for special editions to be produced, either for particular themes or specific places. So, for instance, we’ve recently seen Star Wars Monopoly, Yorkshire Monopoly (for the UK county in which I live), football-related special editions and so on. Amongst traditional board games Monopoly offers unique scope for being customized, so it’s great that this new computer version comes with its own board editor that lets you produce your own new board layouts. It also comes with pre-defined boards for ten US cities as well as the ‘Classic’ board.
Getting underwayWith all the above in mind I’d got pretty high hopes for this new Monopoly game, and my initial impressions were very positive. Once installed, running the game presents a fairly impressive intro movie followed by an attractive series of menus. You need to log in one or more human players first of all; thereafter, you have only to click on names to choose which humans will play. Once the humans are all logged in you can add extra computer players, with a choice of three skill levels for each. You also choose the counter for each player from the standard range of Monopoly tokens (including the most recently introduced official tokens, such as the money bag). These are all rendered in 3D and look like real metal counters, except that they morph and stretch around when they’re in play.
The final step is to choose your board and rules. The Classic board comes up by default, but there are preset boards for ten US cities (Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto and Washington), each of which has localized names and a little photo on each property square.
You can then play by the standard rules, play the ‘short’ game, or choose your own set of custom rules. Personally I like to play with the ‘Free Parking’ and ‘Collect double money for landing on GO’ rules turned on; they’re off by default. There’s a lot of rules that you can enable, disable or adjust, and if your game lasts for too long, you can save it in mid-session and resume it later.