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by Infogrames

monopoly-fullsize10-01-01.jpg (7238 bytes)Monopoly Tycoon’s gaming premise is an experience that combines the basic concepts of Monopoly (real estate control and competition) and Sims (personal control of city zoning and economic development). The game introduces the competitive aspects of Monopoly where various players work to control the economic future of their own corporation with the sim, and where the player directly sees the impact of their business decisions. Monopoly Tycoon uses several different scenarios to enhance the gaming experience. Daily profits, sales numbers, and political popularity all provide color to the traditional sim experience, and help decide which player "wins" a particular scenario.

monopoly-fullsize17-01-0-01.jpg (7542 bytes)While the single player game is quite entertaining, the multiplayer option provides for the most excitement. Here, players can hearken back to the games of their youth, wherein they were able to use their business prowess to utterly crush their opponents (this usually being translated as crushing their younger siblings). While multiplayer opportunities are a bit limited at this point, it will be the definite selling point for this game in the future.

monopoly-fullsize01-01-01.jpg (9288 bytes)Another of the biggest sellers for this game is the very interactive 3D viewer. The camera angles and viewer in Monopoly Tycoon allow the player a sense of immersion in that is rare, especially for Sims. The game encourages players to be very involved with their corporate holdings, down to the individual business level. To assist in this involvement, the game lets players to zoom in and view individual buildings on a 3-dimensional basis. The controls for the camera while in this viewing mode are quite easy to control and are actually very interesting to use, especially when looking at a building during a particularly busy shopping time. While this view control is not essential for game play, it does allow for an increased sense of realism and contact with the game.

monopoly-fullsize11-01-0-01.jpg (9541 bytes)Another major selling point for the game is the AI, which allows for intuition and player choice. In many such games, the player is forced to follow a pretty linear path to meet the requirements for a given scenario. While some of this does surface in the game, especially in the form of reminders and suggestions from the game as to business placement and management practices, the game does allow for a free hand in deciding exactly how and when to implement a business strategy.

monopoly-fullsize21-01-0-01.jpg (9771 bytes)The AI rewards players for careful zoning decisions, such as placing a toy store near a school or a bookstore near a university. I was also impressed with the way the game tried to create a realistic feel in the ebb and flow of business. For example, I would place large newspaper stands near each of the major railroads at the beginning of each scenario. The game would not recommend this move, but intuition said that commuters would traditionally purchase a newspaper on the way to work, especially early in the morning. In each case, I would be pleasantly surprised at how well these enterprises would do and the amount of income each would generate. The AI, in this case, allowed for realistic reactions on the part of consumers, rather than trying to force the player to conform to a predetermined course of business.

monopoly-fullsize02-01-01.jpg (9808 bytes)However, for all its positive aspects, there are reasons for the three star rating I give this game. The primary reason for this rating would be the gaming experience itself, which seems very cluttered and confusing. While the idea of a sim is to try to provide as many opportunities for interaction and control on the part of the player, the control system for Monopoly Tycoon seems to be trying to go in too many directions at once. It seems that the player is offered the position of store manager, franchise owner, and corporate magnate all at once. Indeed, according to the manner in which the game progresses, a player is supposed to be able to direct operations on a store to store basis, altering prices of stock as well as controlling inventory levels. At the same time, the player is expected to control expansions into new services and provide new products for consumers on a city-wide basis. On top of all this, the player is also expected to control expansion, in terms of real estate, in order to control areas of the city and block these off from opposing players --or at least to profit from the work of those opponents.

gameplay_identify1-01-01.jpg (10202 bytes)While individual parts of the game might prove interesting and challenging – hence the proven success on the part of Sims in general – the overall game is just too much. Games become tedious when the player is forced to control so much all at once. The game begins to take on the feel of a real job rather than a game, and it’s a job that doesn’t prove all that appealing or lucrative in the end.

monopoly-fullsize09-01-01.jpg (10374 bytes)A major cause of the difficulty with this game comes from the control interface, which is a bit overwhelming. As was mentioned earlier, there are several hats for the player to wear during the game. With each hat, the player is presented with a new level of controls to provide information and ways to manipulate the game. The player has to switch quickly between the City, Block, and Building interfaces to access commands and control the progression of the game. As a result, there tends to be a lot of clicking and searching to find the exact controls needed to effect a specific business decision. Admittedly, this tends to heighten the realism of the game; it also reinforces many of the reasons why I have decided not to pursue full time employment in the entrepreneurial sector.

monopoly-fullsize05-01-01.jpg (10477 bytes)Another reason this game scored low was based on the tutorial, which does not really encourage experimentation or allow players to acclimate themselves to ideas of play. While there are several chapters included in the tutorial that cover all the aspects of game play, actual control on the part of the player is limited to following the instructions of the tutorial about where to click. While this is useful in learning where everything is located, it limits the player’s ability to see how things really work. The tutorial seems to try to just push the player through the introduction as quickly as possible in order to get them into actual game play. While my normal opinion is that nothing replaces actual game play, the controls and level of game play are so intricate and quick that the lack of practice makes the game seem confusing and eventually boring. Many of the really interesting details are lost on me because I can’t appreciate why they are so important because the game has rapidly gone beyond my appreciation, and I don’t really understand what is going on.

monopoly-fullsize12-01-01.jpg (12099 bytes)Nevertheless, the intuitive gameplay keeps Monopoly Tycoon from being a complete bust, and fans of sim games might find it a little more enjoyable than I did. The presence of a multiplayer mode also adds a little life to the title, but the confusing interface, difficulty multitasking the game’s many requirements, and a limited tutorial keep the title from having broad appeal.

Clayn Lambert   (11/08/2001)


Ups: Great multiplayer; 3D city viewer; AI rewards intuitive play.

Downs: Confusing combination of game expectations; interface is cluttered and too complex; limited tutorial.

Platform: PC