Features & Use
Scrabble is one of those classic games that never get old. Back when Facebook just got started, a lot of my college friends were busy playing the Facebook app version of Scrabble in their spare time. People would be literally glued to their laptops, playing against their friends and roommates and hoping to score an amazing word. Now the Scrabble fever has transferred over to the world of Android smartphones with Word With Friends Free.
Words With Friends Free is simply Scrabble board adjusted to fit onto a smartphone screen. As in the original, the point of the game is to earn the maximum number of points by placing words on the board. Every letter has a certain point value with the rarest letters such as X and Z giving the maximum amount of points. In addition, certain square on the board give you additional points:
- DL (blue ) – doubles the letter
- TL (green) – triples the letter
- DW (red) – doubles the score of a word
- TW (orange) – triples the score of a word.
In Word With Friends you can choose to play against your friends or against random online opponents. Before you can get started, you’ll need to take a couple of seconds to set up a quick Word With Friends account with your own personal username. This game is played completely online and you can have 20 different games going simultaneously. Word With Friends isn’t a high-paced game – every player can take his or her time to make a move (just be honest and don’t look stuff up online).
Every time your opponent makes a move you receive a message in your notification bar. This is what makes the game so special. You can play a single Scrabble game casually against your friends, putting words down on the board when you have a spare moment (i.e. coffee break at work or your daily commute with public transit). While playing, Words With Friends allows you to chat with your opponents aka friends via a designated chat bubble. That’s definitely a great way to make the game even more interactive and personal.
The game goes on until you run out of letters after which your final score gets tallied up. All your wins and losses are listed at the bottom of the main menu screen.
As much as I love this game, however, there’s one major – and I mean major with a capital m – problem with Words With Friends. When you go to create a new game, you are supposed to be able to select someone from your phone’s Contact List and offer them to play Scrabble. Yet instead of listing your Facebook or Google contacts, Word With Friends simply lists EVERY SINGLE EMAIL ADDRESS from your inbox. To make things worse, the email addresses are listed in totally random order, making it impossible to find your friends. In my cases, thousands of random email addresses were listed in no particular order at all. This defeats the purpose of trying to play with your friends. For the time being, you’ll have to know your friends’ usernames in order to be able to find them and play against them.
Words With Friends Free is an incredibly fun and addictive interactive multiplayer game that is not only entertaining, but actually good for your brain. It lets you challenge yourself and your friends to see who has the best grasp of the English vocabulary. Playing scrabble online on your smartphone is a great way to have fun and stay connected with friends across the world – all you need is an internet connection. Unfortunately, the game does an abysmal job of helping actually find your friends that play Word With Friends and I would recommend the developers adding some Google or Facebook integration to make this easier.
Screen & Controls
The layout of the game is virtually identical to a regular Scrabble board. Just drag and drop your letters onto the board to make a move. Press Play to finalize your move and the game will automatically check if your word exists. The main menu lists all your current games and shows you which ones are waiting for your move at the top. Simply press the + button to create a new game against a random online opponent or a friend (only if you know their username). Tap the blue bubble at the top right of the screen to start a live chat with your opponent. Everything is intuitive and fairly straight-forward. I find the design to be both simple and pleasant to look at. In addition, Words With Friends Free has some pretty cool background sounds for completing a word or getting notified about your friend’s latest move.
Speed & Stability
Words With Friends Free is super fast and efficient. It takes barely a second for the app to double-check if the word you used abides by the rule of Scrabble. Your opponents moves appear instantly in the status bar. Please keep in mind, however, that using an app killer regularly may prevent these background notifications from popping up.
Words With Friends Free includes pesky full-screen ads that appear every time you make a move. Press Menu -> Skip in order to make them disappear.
Words With Friends Free can be downloaded for free from the Android Market.