Xbox 360 Review: Monopoly

In today’s economy, saving every dollar can be critical. For instance, if you’re board game shopping, would you buy the $14 physical version of Monopoly or the $40 for the Xbox 360? Common sense should prevail every time. Of course, if you’re being asked to fork over $40, surely there are some added benefits, right? Well no, not really.

First, the basics. This is classic Monopoly. The rules (and house rules) are correct, it allows four players, and the board is accurate. That’s a good start. Things are about to quickly spiral downhill though.

Monopoly takes a while to play, and you should never sit down to a game expecting to be done in 10 minutes. A mid-game save option is nice to alleviate this. What’s unnecessary is the constant jabbering of Uncle Pennybags, the animations that can’t be sped up, and unresponsive menus. Pennybags may have 20 quotes in total, and as you can imagine, it’s beyond repetitive to deal with him for an entire game.

Playing with an AI opponent is maddening. It’s incredible how they’ll avoid every possible hotel multiple times around the board. They won’t give up until it’s truly over, they offer the same trade every other turn, and the number of times they roll a double is flat out absurd… and that’s all when playing on easy.

Thankfully, you only need two players for a game, so if you have a friend, there’s no AI necessary in the main game mode. Of course, that friend will have to be local as there is zero online support and that’s completely inexcusable given the asking price.

As you play, you’ll unlock new theme boards, although they all amount to the same basic game. None of them are licensed, so don’t expect the popular NFLopoly to jump up on screen. They have themes like future and space instead. Regardless of the board, you’ll be stuck listening to maddening looping music the entire time you play.

The other supposedly big addition is Richest. This is a separate game mode that barely resembles Monopoly. Each player is forced to endure one out of a number of hideous mini-games (mostly a matter of flicking the left analog stick quickly), and they gain a specific amount of properties on the board based on a dice roll. There is no strategy or skill required, only hefty button mashing (or analog stick flicking).

After each turn, Pennybags will circle the board letting you know which random properties you’ve gained, and taking forever in the process. This is a four-player mode only, so unless you have four human players, you’re stuck with that not-so-wonderful AI.

This review would have taken a completely different direction had this been an Xbox Live Arcade release or $20 cheaper with online play. There are multiple popular board games online in the Arcade, and nearly all of them are cheaper than what you would pay for an actual physical version. With its price and meaningless feature set, this is a disgrace to store shelves everywhere.