Billionaire II is a virtual board game from Swedish developers Game On. There are a few game types to pick from but the standard game is a race to make one billion dollars.
I expected the game to be quite like Monopoly, and indeed much of the game is but this is no criticism because it's a good game to associate with. In Billionaire II, players cast dices (sic) and move around a board. Players can buy board-square businesses that lie in coloured groups. These can be developed with houses or shops in order to gain 'rent' from other players that land on those squares.
There are other ways to make a buck however. Each turn to you can buy or sell shares in companies and watch the stock market prices rise and fall. The detailed analysis of the stock market is enough to convince me that this game could be a simulation of a real stock market!
Bonds are also a sound investment and interest is payed on cash-in-hand too, which is nice. Players earn a wage for each circuit of the board and if short of money, can get a loan providing their credit rating is good enough.
As you might expect there are more board squares than businesses. As well as the almost customary 'cards' that can give good or bad news you can get thrown in jail (another Monopolism), get stock market insider tips or even the odd game of chance. I was a bit miffed that a mugger stole $1.4 million from my wallet after landing on the 'robbery' square but in this game, such money is small fry.
The graphics and presentation on Billionaire II are top notch. There is no background music but for a long and involving game like this silence is probably a good idea. There are good sound effects to accompany your actions. The hand drawn graphics are as good as anyone could want. I had one original Monopoly game on computer but Billionaire II looks, and generally works, much better than that did. For a start you see the dice being thrown this time.
Billionaire II plays VERY well. It's as an addictive a game as you could want. I initially thought that bonds or stocks were not as profitable as property though and rules that allow businesses to be bought without the owners consent can serve to make the strong players stronger.
After playing many times though I found that the fortunes of the players are much less certain and unlike Monopoly, the cheaper properties that dominate the start of the game don't hold as much weight at the end. In a short game it's possible to win with stocks alone because of the long term nature of business development... perhaps it's a matter of picking the right shares!
The game play is balanced to perfection and even a player with a $50 million debt and one business can come back to win the game.
The game supports one to four players, human or AI. The AI players tend to make more random choices than informed ones, but they are still excellent opponents. Billionaire II has about as much depth as you could get in a game. The game is addictive and very playable. $19.95 hardly seems a high enough price for a game that looks, sounds and plays this beautifully!
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