Monopoly is one of those classic board games that you either love or hate. It’s well known for a ridiculous number of variations, but most are just skins and don’t change the gameplay itself, until now. With Monopoly Live, Hasbro aims to make the game more automated, the key to this being the giant infrared tower looming in the center of the board, no doubt silently judging you.
I hate Monopoly. Some people think it’s fantastic, but it’s absolutely one of my least favorite games to play. It goes on forever, there’s little strategy involved, the banker always cheats, and people argue over various house rules. Monopoly Live at least seems as if it will eliminate the latter two issues, but I doubt it will make haters like myself enjoy the game. Furthermore, automating hands-on parts of the game like collecting (and hoarding) paper money and die-rolling could cheapen the game for those who enjoy the classic version.
I’m not going to argue about the existence of the ugly tower itself since one of the coolest older board games ever, Dark Tower, utilized a giant, clunky monolith as the core component of the game board. However, the tower in Monopoly Live only seems to subtract rather than add to the game itself, in terms of its purpose. You don’t get to hold money anymore, and have to slide your new bank card each time you want to know your balance. Rolling dice is accomplished by putting a hand over your shiny, metal token. Buying properties is accomplished by sliding your hand over a “yes” or “no” circle on the board. New special events like horse races occur, allowing you to bet money in hopes of winning more, but is that really something the game needed? It’s pretty cool technology, I’ll give it that, but it looks more like a gimmick rather than a feature that will keep the game exciting the whole way through.
The game itself is priced at $49.99 which, to me, presents another decision. One could pick up one or two strategic board games with high quality production values for the same price. Furthermore, one could grab a video game version of Monopoly, which has most of the same automation and features, for a fraction of that cost. If you’d like to check out some other twists on classic board games, don’t miss the Scrabble Rubik’s Cube and this Star Wars Themed Trouble.