When it comes to actually playing
the game, though, you'll find that Monopoly Tycoon
definitely delivers more than most of the other games in the genre. It definitely has its flaws, the main one being that it's hard to keep track of just how everyone's prices are set, but even such a flaw cannot keep this game from being one of the most original strategy games to come out in recent history.
While Monopoly Tycoon definitely takes a number of cues from the board game, it doesn't limit itself to the game either, which is usually the main frustration with computer games based off of tabletop experiences. First of all, the turn-based nature of the board game has been dispensed with, making Monopoly Tycoon a fiercely real-time experience. And while the various streets from the original game all make an appearance here (albeit in the form of city blocks instead), you don't simply build houses and hope for people to land on your square.
See, the city which Monopoly Tycoon takes place in needs to be developed. At the beginning of most of the scenarios, there are only a few apartment buildings scattered around the city, and perhaps some businesses owned by the city. You need to monopolize (heh) on the lack of services and build up an empire, crushing your competition. You can do this in a number of ways, and while they're all easy enough to understand at first blush, a deeper look at the game gives you an idea of the complex interplays between the various actions that you can take.
The simplest way to make money is to build businesses that the people want. You can poll blocks and find out what the people there desire. If they want clothes, and no clothes store is nearby, you can construct one on any vacant plot that no other player has exclusive control over. Buildings can vary in shape and number of floors, but the larger the building the more 'product' it can hold. You can also change the build quality of the structure, which means that it will attract richer clientele. And, of course, you can adjust the price of the product inside; undercutting your opponents is a key way to guarantee revenue.
At 6:00am every morning, all of the game's fees and payments come into play. Stores restock, paying for new materials; buildings pay their rent; tenents pay their fees. Another way to profit in Monopoly Tycoon is to 'buy' a block of the city. If it has businesses on it, all of the rent that those businesses would pay goes to you, and any buildings you have on the block pay no rent. Similarly, there are four utility companies--the old standby Waterworks and the Electric company, and the new Gasworks and Telecom. Owning one of these gets you free utilities, plus all fees paid by the other players. Owning one of the four railroads (you know the names, don't you?) gets you the profits from the passengers who come into the city.
There's even more than this--getting a monopoly on a particular colour lets you build hotels, which can get you megabucks, and the prestige of various blocks changes both the amount of money you make and who's attracted to buying from them. There's a lot of complexity here.
The core single-player game is a series of scenarios that you complete, one-by-one, to unlock the next scenario. I would have preferred to have an easy/medium/hard 'sandbox' mode out of the box as well, but that's a minor quibble. The game also supports multiplayer with up to six people, and that's where it really starts to shine--humans are much more entertaining to play against than AIs, even if the quirky computer characters (based around the tokens in Monopoly) are quite cool.
The game isn't flawless. The interface is a little obtuse, scrolling around a block is a little more painful than it should have been, and the lack of easy price checks is a real pain in the butt, especially at higher difficulty levels. But none of these problems are insurmountable.