As odd as it is to admit, I have a rather personal connection to Monopoly. From the period shortly following my parents' divorce through to my early adolescence, Charles Darrow's classic boardgame was a regular fixture in my life. Every other weekend my sister and I would pile over to our father's house, and on Sunday afternoons we'd regularly bust out Rich Uncle Pennybags and co.
These games didn't always run smoothly; my sis and I would always argue over who got to be the dog, and I distinctly remember that on one occasion my Dad set up a ridiculous deal where he sold her Mayfair, and then didn't have to pay the first three times he landed there. There was also the day when the smoke alarm went off during the preparation of a particularly volatile cooked breakfast; Dad tried to waft away the smog, grabbed the nearest thing to hand - the Monopoly box - and then ended up showering the flat in paper notes and plastic houses.
In the year I spent between college and university, I used to play the game with a trio of mates on a semi-regular basis. At first we did it as a semi-ironic thing, the follow-up to a drunken session in the pub one night, and then over time it slowly morphed into a regular activity. Games would go on for hours, with each of us trying to out-do the others with daft, rule-breaking business deals. It was a bit tragic, I suppose, and yet somehow not. My own set eventually died during my first year as a degree student; I engineered a cash-free Monopoly variant, one where you had to down a can of beer when you wanted to buy a property. I'm pretty sure I ended up naked that night. I usually did.
The problem faced by EA's Monopoly Streets is the same one that thwarts any Monopoly adaptation: it's virtually impossible to make a video game that matches the fun of the genuine article.
To its credit, Streets is one of the better attempts I've seen - and believe me, I've been through a lot of them. For starters, there are oodles of rulesets on offer. You can stick with the classic setup, rush through a quick game, or try your hand at something stranger. Speed Die adds a third dice into the mix, one that sometimes grants special movement options. The Bus and Mr Monopoly icons give you a limited degree of choice over where you land, while rolling a triple lets you move to any square on the board. Rolling three doubles in a row still sends you to Jail, but there's no mention of what happens if you hit three triples; at I guess, I'd suggest that your face melts like that bit at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
One of the other revisions, Bull Market, takes the unusual step of auctioning off all the properties at the start of the game. This arrangement actually requires a fair bit of strategic thought, forcing players to carefully consider the sites they bid for - when to keep quiet, and when to muscle out the opposition. It's an interesting concept, but as with the other oddities, I suspect most players will largely ignore it in favour of the core game. On the positive side, you're able to create and save your own custom setups, adding or removing rules as you wish. If you always used to bung tax payments onto Free Parking, or give yourself £400 for landing on Go, you'll be able to do that here.