Scrabble is a game that nobody, no matter how placid, can resist feeling a competitive urge while playing.
There’s something about being endowed with the raw power of vocabulary that, if exercised properly, squashes any doubts you might have had about your synapse firing powers.
When playing Scrabble, we all want to be Stephen Fry, and we all want to be the first to get a triple word score with ‘RETIARII.’
The straightforwardly titled Words With Friends doesn’t afford you the opportunity to relish your opponent’s dyspeptic grimace whenever you trot out a 50-point stunner, but it does allow you to engage in some very fine synchronistic multi-player Scrabble battles, with minimal fuss.
That’s if the game works for you. There are occasionally some irksome little quirks that conspire to rob you of the experience, though they never quite manage.
The enforced email account creation system (without going through which you can’t play) required several attempts before it worked.
When underway, however, Words With Friends offers a decent variety of opponent-finding options. You can grab a random opponent, choose someone from your iPhone contact list, search for another player by username, or advertise your availability for linguistic dueling over Twitter or Facebook.
Should you fancy playing someone more local, there’s a simple pass-the-handset option, too, rounding off an already comprehensive set of ways to play.
There is no computer controlled opponent to practise with, but since you can run several games at once (we’re not sure how many the maximum is but at the time of writing I have 12 going), you almost always find yourself with a move to make.
Additionally, the game supports push notifications, so you really can dip in and out and always know when it’s your turn to play.
The presentation and sound effects are functional, while the occasional touch, such as the eyeball icon that appears over a username to indicate your opponent is looking at the board, suggest thoughtful design.
There isn’t much to a Scrabble word puzzle game, and despite its occasional technical hiccups Words With Friends delivers as well rounded a Scrabble experience as you could hope for.