Game Reviews

Word Smack

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| Word Smack
Word Smack
| Word Smack

If you want to grind your friends' limited grasp of the English language into the digital dirt, Zynga has been your wordy arms dealer up to this point.

Words With Friends and Scramble With Friends are popular ways of word-jousting your way to satisfaction against buddies and random strangers alike.

It seems EA's up for the challenge of offering an alternative with Word Smack - a leaner, quicker game of letters.

Straight talking

The core game at the heart of Word Smack really is incredibly stripped back. Presented with the first and last letters of a five letter word, you have a limited number of guesses to fill in the blanks.

After each guess you're told how many letters you've guessed correctly, and if any of the letters is in the word but in a different position. Incorrect letters are scrubbed from the virtual keypad altogether.

As such, Word Smack is as much a game of code-breaking and deduction as it is about words. It rather reminds us of the old boardgame of Mastermind, if any of you have played that.

Socially immobile

It's a fun premise, but it's nowhere near as clever or engrossing as something like Words With Friends.

Further mileage is added by the fact you're taking on real opponents, but the way in which you play through each round separately and then compare scores at the end lacks that to-and-fro involvement of the best examples of the genre.

EA has also taken the annoying step of making a Facebook sign-up obligatory if you want to locate your friends. If you're not signed up to Facebook - or just don't want to use your account in this way - your only alternative is to play random strangers.

Needless to say, Zynga shows the way here by enabling you to quickly and painlessly sign-up to their own simple matchmaking service. Why EA couldn't do this is beyond us.

Power of words

Further interest is added by a simple power-ups system that allows you to uncover one of the letters, omit some of the unused letters or supply a clue to the word.

These are more about spending the in-game currency (and eventually your own) though, and actually act to unbalance the simplistic gameplay.

Word Smack is perfectly tidy at what it does, but it simply doesn't go far enough in any area to draw you into its world. You won't be checking your account every ten minutes to see if anyone's played (regardless of notifications) as you do with Zynga's finest.

Less of a word smack, then, and more of a word polite nudge.

Word Smack

Word Smack is a fun and intuitive word game concept that simply hasn't been made the most of