Review MONOPOLY Streets (Wii) Review


GBAtemp 台灣人
Aug 27, 2010
Vancouver, B.C.
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<b>Title:</b> MONOPOLY Streets
<b>Developer:</b> EA Salt Lake
<b>Publisher:</b> Electronic Arts
<b>ESRB Rating:</b> E for Everyone
<b>Release Date:</b> October 26th, 2010
<b>Platforms:</b> Xbox 360, PS3, <u><i>Wii</i></u></div>

Monopoly Streets is one of those games where you might see when you walk into the gaming section of your local electronics store, and write off as shovelware. I mean, the game just begs for it just from its cover art, and its title. This game is what its title says it is, a video game made for the classic board game of MONOPOLY. How many times have you seen a relatively fun and interesting video game that was based off a board game? Take a look at the games piling up in the Wii library, and you'll see that it's littered with titles like Scrabble, made by developers and published for a quick buck on a popular, well-established brand name. Monopoly Streets appeared to be following that same direction, simply a developer, in this case EA Salt Lake, wanting to make quick and easy cash off of such a well-known board game. But the saying goes, don't judge a book buy its cover, and the same applies to video games. Don't judge that game by its coverart. Or title for that matter. Monopoly Streets isn't exactly the shovelware title you'd expect it to be.

The title was developed by EA Salt Lake, previously responsible for the Tiger Woods PGA Tour series from 2000 to 2007, and was released for the three major consoles of the market, the Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii. Made to commemorate the 75th anniversery of Monopoly, the developers had decided to transform the good old board game into... a more stylish board game? I'll get to it later on in the review. The three games are practically identical, though it should be noted that obviously the HD version on the Xbox 360 and PS3 look much better, and run smoother, than its Wii counterpart. The Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of the game also have the ability to play online against other players via Xbox Live and PSN, something the Wii version lacks. But other than that, these two titles are the same inside and out, making this review applicable to all three editions of the game.

Monopoly Streets comes off the idea of taking the classic game of Monopoly, and putting a stylish spin on it to pack it into a fully priced video game. The game's main title says it all, as this isn't your regular Monopoly game, it's something more than that. You've got your main game modes that you can select. The most obvious inclusion would be Official Monopoly, which takes you on a virtual recreation of the classic Monopoly game, with all the official rules apply to the gameplay. EA Salt Lake, however, realised that it wasn't the greatest idea to include only one game mode, which usually lasts hours long, so they tossed in a bunch of others in the bag to mix things up a bit. Out of all the game modes, the Official Monopoly mode takes the longest in duration, being that the other game modes has some tweaks to speed up the slow pace of Monopoly. There's a Speed Die mode, which gives players three dice instead of two. Other game types include a Bull Market mode, in which all properties are auctioned off in the beginning of the round, letting players collect rent from the very get go; as well as a Jackpot mode, which allows players to develop property (build houses and hotels) without having to own all the properties of a certain colour zone. These game modes mix up the experience, but the core gameplay still revolves around the same game the world's known for 75 years. There is even a create-a-mode feature, which lets you tweak some rules of Monopoly, to create your own custom 'house' rules. You can go anywhere from adjusting the price of luxury and income tax, to awarding players money when they land on the Free Parking space. After the completion of each round, the winning player's earnings are stored on your profile, which can rack up and allow you to purchase unlockable content such as Mii usage, new boards, and some new tokens in the Monopoly Store.

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<div align='center'><i>The racecar driver, which is by default used when selecting the car token, in a discussion with Mr. Monopoly prior to his turn. You have an option to either preview the board ahead, or go straight into a dice roll.</i></div>

Gameplay itself is completely controlled with menus, button presses, and watching your game piece (which by default comes with a standard character: the Car piece has a racecar driver, the Battleship piece has a Navy admiral, etc.) roam around the board. Even the Wii version does not utilise motion controls to roll your dice. The game works well, and you get to develop properties after you take your dice roll to advance your player around the board. From there, you get a menu that allows you to mortgage or develop your current properties, trade assets with other players, and an option to declare bankruptcy (basically a forfeit option). The players' money and assets are represented by four individual HUD-like menus in the corners of the screen, showing the players' current amount of cash in their possession, as well as what properties they own. There's an option to express your emotions through five emoticons (Happy, Mad, Sad, Bored, or Confused) whenever you feel like it thrown in there as well. The purchase of properties couldn't be easier enough, once you land on a piece of land for sale, Mr. Monopoly comes up to you to ask whether you wish to buy the property for a certain amount of cash, or let it go in an auction. If you choose to let it go to auction, a menu shows up that lets all players (including yourself) bid for the final property. It's common to see players produce high bids at the beginning of the auction, only to lower it constantly to get the property at standard or cheaper price in the last 5 seconds. This way of playing the game actually helps keep the game fresh, as the tradtional board game of Monopoly often involves players counting their money and spending time to figure out the value of their properties. Everything is automated here, and I must say Monopoly has never been so fun. Ever.

Some might ask, what makes Monopoly Streets so special if it's basically just your typical Monopoly game that's been placed on a TV screen? Well, the answer would be my personal favourite aspect of the game. It's called Monopoly Streets for a reason, and that reason is what really makes the game something special. See, the game includes multiple boards, each with their own specific design. You've got your classic board, the light-green shaded board with colour-coded regions. You also have a rendition made of cardboard, ice, and cheese. But the best one has to be Monopoly City, a board that transforms the same old Monopoly board into a full, 3-dimensional city landscape. You traverse streets instead of spaces, cheap properties like Baltic Avenue are now nothing in comparison to the rich-class Boardwalk regions. Your player literally gets thrown in jail now, and Just Visiting players can walk by and laugh at those sitting in prison as they are prominently displayed inside the prison building. Railroad stations are unique to their own, and the industrial sites are also represented in a nice fashion. When you purchase your houses, the buildings are a representation of the area of your property. If you build a house at Baltic Avenue, it will look like a cheap, regular, 2000 square foot house. Then you set up your houses in Park Place and Boardwalk, and you see these high class condos that put everything else on the board to shame. There are four skyscrapers in the center of Monopoly City, growing and shrinking with players' total value of assets and cash. When a player becomes bankrupt, their tower sinks to the ground in an epic show of lights and smoke. Sadly, the truth is that, Monopoly City is probably the only map you'd want to play on in this game, except maybe Landmark City, which uses real-life landmarks for its areas. The other game boards are incredibly bland and are absolutely boring to play on.

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<div align='center'><i>Monopoly City is like this on the Xbox 360 version. The Wii version is more colourful, but has less pedestrians on the road.</i></div>

From this, I've probably made Monopoly Streets sound like some sort of out of the blue AAA title. Well, not really. The game has its share of flaws that do take away from the experience. The lack of any interest in playing Monopoly Streets with the computer AI is a big one. This game is dreadfully boring when you're not playing with any of your buddies. The AI takes out the emotion, the laughs and cries as someone pays $1100 in rent when they stop by their friends' hotel. Yes, the Monopoly City remains alive and lively, but the game itself feels shallow. Also comes the issue that, at least on the Wii version, the game has some choppy model rendering, meaning that you won't see smooth lines around the corners of buildings, and instead some jagged lines all Wii owners have seen. There are also some frame rate issues on the Wii version, which is disappointing, because this is Monopoly for God's sake, not some heavy action shooter title with explosions and smoke all over the place. The above graphical issues cannot be said of the HD counterparts, as I have not played the game on those consoles. And perhaps the final blow really is that, besides Monopoly City and Landmark City, the other game boards are just boring, undetailed, and should be avoided at all costs.

All in all, Monopoly Streets shows it has some great value, and does go by the fact that you really can't judge a book by its cover, nor can you judge a video game by its coverart. The game was a pleasant surprise for myself, it's general good flow to gameplay and the view of Monopoly City kept me back for more than one round of Monopoly. Sadly, this game isn't fun if you don't have any friends with you. Even one friend makes all the difference. If you haven't had fun playing Monopoly the board game, it's probably because you're spending time counting your money and assets, and not getting to actual enjoy the game itself. With Monopoly Streets, you can actually have fun playing this classic board game, because all the hard work is done for you. While it may be a bit harsh to pay full price for this game, it is definitely one worth considering for parties, or just for a typical hang out. You'll probably find yourself enjoying it a lot more than you'd expect.

<b>Final Verdict:</b>
<b>Gameplay:</b> 8.5/10 - Flowing gameplay that keeps it fresh throughout the time spent playing. More time in the action, and much less time counting how much money you've got. You'll never have more fun playing Monopoly. If you hate Monopoly though, this game isn't gonna change your view on it.
<b>Visuals:</b> 6.5/10 - The HD versions look great, but the Wii version has jagged texturing and frame rate issues. This is Monopoly for Pete's sake! General lack of anything interesting on game boards besides the Monopoly City deducts some points for this game. Player models aren't special, but aren't terrible either. At least the textures are not blurry like most Wii games.
<b>Audio:</b> 7/10 - Some lively jingles are probably the only thing you can really praise Monopoly Street for in the audio department. We're not getting any master soundtrack here, we're not talking Zelda or Final Fantasy here, but then again it's a Monopoly game. Sound effects and character voices get very annoying after a bit.
<b>Replay Value:</b> 8/10 - Take this out when with a group of friends, or throw it in during a party. You, and your friends, will be surprised how much fun you'll have, unless of course you're all cold-hearted, non-emotional beings, or you just despise Monopoly in general. There are some unlockables to use, but all can be unlocked and purchased by the time you reach a dozen Official Monopoly games played.

<b>Final Score:</b> <!--sizeo:7--><span style="font-size:36pt;line-height:100%"><!--/sizeo-->7.0<!--sizec--></span><!--/sizec-->/10

- CarbonX13

All my reviews are rated out of 10, with .5 decimal increments.

10 - This game is an absolute masterpiece. It is a shining example as one of, if not the best, within its genre. Little, if any, flaws can be found within the game, and the title excels in every department. Graphics are incredible, the audio is magnificent, and most importantly, the game is real fun to play. There is nothing wrong in the design of the game.
9 or 9.5 - These titles are absolutely incredible, and are definitions of what every game should be like. Games scoring a 9 or above are an absolute blast to play through, and are among the best titles in their respective platforms. Visuals and audio are produced with exceptional quality.
8.5 - Titles ranking here are really close to that mark of 'incredible', but fall just a tad short. Perhaps it was a minor flaw in the design or the choices made in the game's development. Whatever the flaw may be, it shouldn't stop you from getting this game, as you will definitely be missing out on something.
8.0 - Games in this area are really great titles, but aren't necessarily fantastic. Some flaws are shown in the game's final build, but they don't take much out of the overall experience. Definitely worth a playthrough, but don't expect anything like a masterpiece.
7.5 - These games are good. Not great, not mediocre, just good. They may or may not be worth a purchase, depending on your tastes. Some obvious design flaws are present in the game, some that do take away from the experience. Use some caution when approaching these titles, and remember not to expect anything spectacular.
7.0 - Decent quality games land in this area. They may be fun to pull out once in a bit, but they won't last in the long run. Glaring flaws in the development really show in the final outcome, and the overall experience will be varied. Approach with caution.
6.0 to 6.5 - These games are OK, but they aren't very enjoyable. It will be overshadowed by many flaws within the final build that ruin the experience.
5.0 to 5.5 - Only buy these games if they're in your 'I absolutely have to own every one of this series' list, otherwise, it's better to steer clear of these ones.
3.0 to 4.5 - I'd question your need to get this game.
1.0 to 2.5 - The game hardly works at all; the efforts of the developers are questionable.
0 and 0.5 - The worst of the worst. These games are an embarrassment to gaming and all of mankind. Burn the cartridge, snap the disc, do anything to get rid of these games. They shouldn't exist.

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