Monopoly Tycoon 2007
Hands-On delivers a different kind of mobile Monopoly, but should you care?
As someone who wasn't previously familiar with the Monopoly Tycoon spinoff franchise, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that it's actually a city-building strategy title, and not a board game at all. Not that there's anything wrong with the board game. It's just great to see more sim/city building titles hit mobile.
The game is focused around city blocks tied to specific colors, not unlike the more traditional Monopoly we all know and (presumably) love. In each block you can build a total of three buildings - electrical stores, newsstands, bars, restaurants, and more. The fourth section of the block is always taken up by an apartment building. Here you can poll the neighborhood to find out what shops residents most want to see built.
Each building can be 1-4 stories, and can be low, medium, or high quality. You can micromanage each business by setting prices, or hire a manager who can sort all that out for you. Periodically new properties come up for auction, and each player has the opportunity to expand his number of blocks to build on.
And that's more or less all there is to it. This setup would make for a fairly simple yet rewarding mobile strategy title if not for a couple of design flaws. The first is that it's almost more difficult to lose than it is to win. After polling the community, just build the three buildings they say they want most, and install managers to run them. Literally all your city blocks will be profitable this way.
When you couple this with the second flaw, then winning becomes nearly automatic. The issue is that there's no limit to how far in the hole you can go, and there's no penalty for doing so. This means that no matter how high the bidding on a new, empty city block becomes, just never give up. So what if it costs 4X more than what you have in the bank - it's better than your opponent expanding. You can literally keep your enemies to their initial starting block through this method, by just buying up everything, no matter what.
This also means that right from the start you can build four-story, high-quality businesses, even if they put you way in the hole. There's no reason to start with the more modest structures. You'll rack up a ton of early dept, but very rapidly you'll have ten times the profit and assets of the AI and will roll on to an easy victory.
If the game prevented you from having a negative account balance, or forced you to take out a loan and pay back interest in order to go negative, it would have made for a much more balanced experienced. Gamers would be forced to play the game the "right" way by starting with small, ratty newsstands and slowly build their way up to gigantic department stores.
Monopoly Tycoon 2007 does include a variety of much more difficult scenarios, such as doubling profit in five in-game days, or turning around money-losing properties, and they do help up the longevity, but they aren't quite enough for me to completely forgive the main game's missed potential.
The game is still fun and I enjoyed conquering the city from beginning to end - it's easy to hop in and out, and the game serves as a nice time-killing alternative to more action-oriented titles. But I hope that 2008 adds some additional depth to make the overall experience more rewarding.
What's Hot: Crushing that blasted top hat with my Trump-esque developmental prowess
What's Not: The game needs more depth