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Words With Friends

Review of the game

Review of the game

By Willy Wookz, on 10-15-13

If you've ever played the classic board game Scrabble, it is very likely Words With Friends will be very familiar to you. In fact to all but the most avid players the two games may appear to be identical. They are in fact different but in subtle ways. These slight alterations are mostly centered around game play. Zynga, the developer behind Words With Friends has focused heavily on adding convenience to what has become the world's most popular online word game. We'll start with the obvious. 
Words With Friends begins the exact same way as its older relative does with the selection of seven random tiles from a pool of letters. The difference here is that number values are different in this version. There is a different distribution of letters of this version as well. The first player will place a word on the board beginning with the center square and play continues from there building words and gaining bonuses. The on-board bonus squares are familiar with double and triple letter score options. The placements however, are different from what players may recognize.This is about as far as the board itself differs though. The real bonuses of playing Words With Friends are in the game's embrace of technology to bring the experience of wordy fun to the technology age. 
Words benefits greatly from the addition of integration with modern technology. The downside to most board games is implied by their name. The boards and pieces that these classics require inhibit mobile game play. Also it gets kind of difficult to start a game when two players aren't present. Even with electronic versions if neither player is logged onto the same server it can take days or weeks to play one round. With modern apps that's not an issue. Words integrates with Facebook, iOS and Android with ease. The program is asynchronous, meaning games can be initiated on Facebook or a smartphone and continued on tablets or other supported devices. This allows for players to keep up with their turns while on the go. The added convenience ensures not only continuous interaction between players but provides a welcome distraction during downtime, like airports and waiting rooms.
This app is fairly straightforward as a word based game but it contains a number of features that add to the experience significantly. The invite option allows you to maintain multiple games simultaneously with friends that also have the app downloaded. If they are not already users (Facebook friends perhaps) you can send an invitation to download the game and begin a new round.  The word comparison function scores words as you play them as compared to the other options in your queue. Zynga also adds a lot of social interaction to a otherwise static game. The chat room and sharing functions allow you to engage in conversation with other players during turns and share your successes via social media.  Premium features like the word-o-meter include the chance to see how many letters remain and the value of words before they are played. 
Perhaps the best feature of this game is its easy to use interface. With the abundance of features offered it can be easy to get lost amongst the options. Words With Friends goes a long way to prevent this. Buttons are large without being goofy and navigation is fairly intuitive. The layout is game focused with a large playing area. It may be difficult to figure out zoom functions to begin with but once learned, this handy tool makes word placement a breeze. Ads are overall unobtrusive and easily overlooked. The optional premium version removes these ads entirely. The pop-ups following word placement are however, a little annoying. These can be closed a few seconds after they begin but still come across as interuptive. The dashboard menu makes it easy to switch between active games and view other active players. With a minimal of effort 'power players' could easily take several turns in a row without having to constantly return to the main screen and start over. 
If synced with Facebook, notifications will keep you informed of player's moves so there is no need to constantly check in to an active game. If games are abandoned it's easy to nudge a player to gain there attention or send over a message and see what the hold up is. Zynga's dashboard offers suggestions for new games on the home page and keeps track of player history. Some players may seek more excitement and difficulty from a word game but for casual users this is a very solid app with very few issues. The player base ensures there will always be plenty of games to choose from and there's a pretty good chance one of your actual friends is already playing Words With Friends. Definitely worth giving a try but beware, this game is addictive.

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