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Zadzooks: Monopoly: Here and Now, The World Edition HD (iPad)

- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 14, 2011

One of my favorite ways to appreciate an iPad is as a virtual conduit to the days when the board game ruled the family recreation room.

An update to the premiere properties trading challenge helps accomplish my nostalgic fun and now gives up to four players a chance to buy the world.

Through an awesome presentation and navigation, with no real banker required, Monopoly: Here and Now, The World Edition HD (Electronic Arts, $5.99) pits millionaires against one another as they buy up such prime real estate as New York, Jerusalem and Paris.

Grab the iPad, lay it flat on a table or pass it around as players each pick an animated token and take turns touching the dice and flinging them into the virtual Monopoly space to automatically move around the colorful spaces.

All options of the standard game exists including mortgaging properties, building houses and luxury hotels, complex trades involving money and properties and even configurable options to collect more cash for landing on “free parking” and “Pass Go.”

The big exception to the new game is everything costs more. For example, players start out with $15 million, but it goes fast. Just buy the equivalent of the pricy Boardwalk and Park Place combination. Now it's outrageous when transformed to Montreal ($4 million) with the Latvian capital of Riga ($3.5 million). Of course, add houses at a cool $2 million each.

EA also adds the clever Sleight of Hand option where each player can use a trio of advantages to help out when potentially going bankrupt or in need of taking advantage of a deal such as a one-time move to a certain number of spaces.

As stated earlier (listen parents), the computer keeps track of the cash.

So to mildly make up for the lost educational opportunity of not getting to count money, always a moment to demonstrate mathematical superiority among my clan, players get bunches of statistics to chew on ranging from tips on the probability of a player landing on a certain space to statistics on dice rolls.

Additionally, the game offers trivia as players land on Chance and Community Chest spaces.

For example, I did not know that China is the world's leading country in bicycle production and consumption with bicycles in Beijing alone estimated to be more than 10 million. I also probably never needed to know that.

Other features include a choice of locations to play the game (a veranda by the sea was my favorite), four levels of difficulty, intelligent AI players, up to four-player local action using WiFi or Bluetooth (two humans only), ability to play a personalized iTunes library for background music and a very welcomed Teacher's Mode.

Additionally, animations -- such as getting tossed in jail, dollar signs dancing around the board for windfalls and tokens such as a sliding penguin and lumbering Sumo -- add to the mood.

Overall, Monopoly: Here and Now HD makes for an excellent experience for a long road trip and will keep the high-tech family playing together.

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