Monopoly Madness, the review of a party game on the famous board game



Monopoly Madness starts from the good old most famous board game in the world and proposes a party game style madness, let’s see it in the review.

If you feel a certain uneasiness when at Christmas time someone pulls out the dusty Monopoly from some ancient shelf, it could be because of the subconscious awareness that this international pillar of family entertainment is a sort of hymn to unscrupulous capitalism and building speculation. Or maybe it’s simply because you already know that you’re going to be tarred with duties and taxes by the banking uncle who always manages to regularly conquer the entire wealth trust, between Via Roma and Parco della Vittoria.

This year, however, you could subvert the status quo and even have a chance to win (or simply end a game, which would already represent a great achievement) throwing everything in the trash thanks to this bizarre reinterpretation by Ubisoft. A reinterpretation that we discover in the review of Monopoly Madness.

Title chosen not by chance, because this is really a Monopoly-based madness: if the presentation may suggest a simple digital translation of the old board game, complete with Tycoon with tuba to welcome you to the first screen, soon you realize that the game is something completely different.

Basically, it’s always about buying properties and building on them in order to increase their value, but the way in which this takes place is completely different from the norm: here it’s not about sitting quietly around a table, trying to keep as much as possible in order the mythical fake banknotes, instead we have to embark, facing opponents in a physical and no-holds-barred way to reach the real estate domain on the various maps present. It is therefore not a translation of the video game Monopoly but a complete reinterpretation in key party game, which after a moment of disorientation can be damn engaging.

Builders unleashed

Monopoly Madness, a map seen from above

It may seem strange, seeing a bit how the action unfolds, but the core of the gameplay is based precisely on the purchase of land and the construction of houses, with the increase of these leading to an increasingly substantial flow of money. The way in which the purchase and management of real estate properties is carried out, however, is quite different from what you would expect from a real estate tycoon simulation: a series of crazy characters are launched within a map to choose from several possibilities, consisting of streets and blocks that can be purchased and managed. The controls are based on the use of a sort of vacuum cleaner that allows you to suck money, water and electricity from the map and pour them on the land and buildings: in this way we can buy the various areas and evolve them with the construction of buildings. At unpredictable intervals of time, the auction for the purchase of various lands is triggered and we must then sling ourselves in the vicinity of these to make our bets, trying to burn the opponents with the right timing but also trying not to overspend.

The basic mechanics therefore require you to suck up resources around the map and pour them into the land, throwing money at auctions or water and electricity (thus taking up the iconic presence of the aqueduct and the power company) to make them evolve with the construction of new buildings able to increase the cash flow. Parallel to these basic activities there are, however, also disruptive actions and real clashes with opponents. This is because the whole game takes place in real time and there is not a moment’s respite: to help us in the race to the auctions, the conquest of bonuses or even “steal” the land already conquered by other players, you can use different power-ups that add very arcade features to the whole, allowing you to place obstacles on the roads, hit opponents or buildings directly or create diversions that can lead to the change of ownership of land, adding features from real action game.

Modes, maps and customizations

In Monopoly Madness the unexpected definitely makes itself felt

There’s a good assortment of game options between modes and various customizations, starting with a first division between the “story” – which allows you to progressively unlock the various types of games and gradually discover their characteristics – the free mode that allows you to create games with rules at will and the team game. The focus of everything is obviously the multiplayer, present here both online and offline shared screen, but eventually you can also play in single player with bots controlled by artificial intelligence in the event that you do not have available companions, a fallback option rather not recommended considering the AI is not exactly brilliant. The basic core of the action remains the same, in principle: buy land and build houses, but this is added a number of variations really remarkable, although marginal in terms of actual changes to the gameplay.

The maps are also present in good quantity, but the presence of different obstacles and configurations for movement, with a lot of contextual elements such as timed openings, moving bridges or railways with passing trains, do not provide really consistent changes to the game action, which can be a bit repetitive in the long run.

Monopoly Madness has rather odd characters

In any case, the amount of content is considerable and, even if it’s just cosmetic changes, fans of avatar customization really have plenty of material to experiment with: numerous different characters to unlock and additional cosmetic changes to apply to these allow you to increase the sense of progression with the continuous conquest of new rewards, within a very broad objective system. The matches are usually resolved in very short sessions, which can go from 5 to 10 minutes, always keeping the pace high and pushing easily to chain one game after another, especially if we are with an assorted group of players and in presence, as befits a party game.

A crazy Monopoly

Monopoly Madness presents different maps and environments

The operation of transformation of an extremely classic board game into a cheerful and chaotic party game has succeeded in a remarkable way, also thanks to some particularly apt design choices: Monopoly Madness recovers some elements of the traditional iconography of the old game and transfers them into a different context, where they make sense up to a certain point but still manage to maintain a link with their roots. The map framed from above, with the lands that are colored according to the different owners, effectively recall the old base of the board game, while distorting in large part the layout and operation, as well as the presence of the houses to build and the water and electricity to collect as a link to the aqueduct and the power plant. In some maps there are also stations, although with different function (here they are used to offer shortcuts to the players, in order to move quickly from one area to another).

Despite the chaos that dominates the action, since the games are usually resolved in a matter of minutes where a bit ‘of everything, the view manages to keep the situation pretty clear: the only problems, in this sense, are given by the possibility of confusing your character among the others and the difficulty in using precisely the power-ups in some cases, but the confusion is an integral part of the gameplay in a multiplayer party game like this, so they are issues that disturb “by design” and on which there is little to complain. Note, however, that Monopoly Madness is fully localized and dubbed in Italian, resulting also on this front suitable for groups of people even very different.

Comment

The brand name can create false expectations, because if you expect some sort of strategic/management game based on building speculation and real estate you are definitely off the mark. On the other hand, the name says it clearly: Monopoly Madness infuses madness into the old board game and also for this reason it can’t avoid being likeable, being a totally subversive reinterpretation of the original style, offering a dynamic gameplay with a very fast pace, while maintaining a semblance of the classic actions of the board game and some of its founding elements. It’s a very simple game, chaotic and in the long run potentially repetitive, but if there is the possibility to play it in offline multiplayer, possibly in family and with players belonging to different age groups, expresses its full potential for fun. It can become an extremely sensible purchase with a possible price reduction, being one of those titles to keep on hand on the occasions when you are in a group, like any good party game.

PRO

  • Fast and dynamic gameplay but somehow linked to tradition
  • Sympathetic characterization that underscores the overall oddity
  • Lots of modes and customization options
  • Far too simplistic and chaotic, in some cases
  • In the long run it is inevitably repetitive
  • In single player it loses much of its charm
  • Have you noticed any errors?
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