I'll be honest -- I wasn't expecting Monopoly to be any good. The demo, touting some lackluster graphics, and a sluggish interface, didn't sell me over at all. But, after playing a few full games, I have to say that my appreciation (and more importantly, understanding) of how the board game works has definitely improved.

The full release doesn't get rid of the ugly UI issues. But, you are at least able to change your background to something a bit more palpable. The game won't fully explain the rules of the game, but the various tips and tricks that the game tosses in will make you realize some of the (cheap) strategies you can use to win the game. In fact, before this mobile version of Monopoly, I had no idea what the official rules of the game were -- now I do! You can also easily modify your game to accommodate custom rules, like getting money when you land on Free Parking. You can even change how many houses it takes to build a hotel, how much money you collect when passing Go, and how intelligent your AI opponents are.

It would be nice if there were some other faster game modes, as a single game can take quite a long time from beginning to end. Also, some preset modifications would've been great to entertain. However, the biggest shortcoming of Monopoly is the lack of any real Xbox Live functionality. Yes, there are some ridiculously easy Achievements (you can get all 200G in one sitting, if you're good/lucky enough!). But, where's online multiplayer? Although Xbox Live (currently) doesn't allow for simultaneous multiplayer, it's sad to see EA didn't figure out a clever asynchronous way of playing against others. There is, at the very least, pass-the-system multiplayer.

Monopoly is far from one of the best games on Windows Phone right now, but it's certainly far from the worst. While this is a very faithful recreation of the board game, it's equally disheartening to see EA tackle it so unimaginatively.

See also: Windows Phone 7 launch games reviews hub


This review is based on a retail Samsung Focus provided by Microsoft and AT&T.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.