Scrabble for iPad review
Scrabble for iPad, by Electronic Arts
- CPU Opponent
- Timed game option
- CPU opponent is too easy, and difficulty can’t change
- Included dictionary doesn’t add anything to the gameplay
Scrabble for the iPad is a bit of a bind. While it is the classic board game, when it comes to iPad or online play, Words with Friends is probably the most well-known. So in order to overcome this difficulty, Scrabble for the iPad should really have some high quality features that are lacking in Words with Friends.
The game itself offer the standard options – play against the CPU, pass ‘n play, play against the friend, and play against a random opponent. With the friends, you can’t select an opponent using the game center – it only allows Facebook friends and other people with Origin accounts. I find this as a big drawback, as it would be a big plus from the Words with Friends game. While you can have multiple games active against non-CPU opponents, you can only be playing one game against the CPU at a time.
Figure 1. Multiple game play modes is nice, including an interesting "speed play" option.
The ability to play against the CPU is nice, but there is no option to adjust the CPU difficulty. After playing a few games, I found myself routinely beating the CPU pretty handily (and I don’t consider myself a very strong player). It didn’t appear that the CPU was adjusting itself either (adapting to play at my level) as the multiple games continued to end with similar scores.
Figure 2. Limited settings and adjustments mean that you can't customize the game or make it more difficult as you improve.
The interface is nice, and the inclusion of a dictionary is a nice feature as well. The dictionary includes the list of acceptable two-letter words, and you can look up additional words to see if they are valid. However, I don’t see much point in that, as it is just as quick to try a word to see if it words or not. It would be an interesting twist if you were to lose points on invalid words (or if you could still use them, but someone could challenge you) but apparently this would be too complex to include in the game play.
Figure 3. The inclusion of an in-game dictionary is nice, but really doesn't change the game too much.
One cool little feature I liked was the inclusion of a notification if you used the “best word” available to you. However, it was a little if this was simply based on the tiles, or also based on the location the word is placed. In addition, I got one indicator of a “best word” congratulations one time, when I deliberately didn’t place the best word down (although it was still a high point value) so I don’t know how accurate it was.
Figure 4. The "best word" feature is a nice little pat on the back, but I had questions about its accuracy.
One game variant that was interesting was a “speed play” option. Basically it is a timed Scrabble game, with a limited time for each move. The time limit is for each move, so there adds a sense of urgency to the game. While I didn’t try this aspect of the game out (it is only allowed with live opponents, not the CPU) I think this would make a nice twist to a regular Scrabble game.
Figure 5. The profile is a nice link between the online game and the iPad game, and keeps a combined record of your progress.
All in all, Scrabble for the iPad has some nice features, but it probably isn’t enough to overcome the elephant in the room, Words with Friends. The inclusion of a time play mode, as well as a CPU opponent, gives a few more options to someone wanting to play. The lack of a quality CPU opponent however is a severely limiting factor. The inclusion of a dictionary is nice, but it is really eye candy and doesn’t add anything to the regular game play. While Scrabble may be the king of board games, when it comes to digital versions, this game is nothing special. I would only recommend it if you have been playing online Scrabble (through Facebook or something similar) and want to be able to continue with the iPad. Three and a half out of five stars.
* = No redeeming qualities or features, probably not worth it even if it is free
** = Few redeeming qualities, or is simply isn't worth the price
*** = Some good features but also some clear flaws
**** = A solid app, worth the money if interested, a few flaws or problems or slightly overpriced
***** = Top of the line app, no problems or drawbacks
Price is factored into the ratings. Ratings are lowered if I feel the price of the app outweighs the benefits/enjoyment/features it provides. Likewise, an app that is a good value for the money will have a higher rating. Please comment on these reviews. All opinions expressed in this review are precisely that – opinions. You may agree or disagree. If you own the app, tell me what your opinion is. If the review prompted you to buy (or not buy) the app, let me know why. If you want more information about the app, go ahead and ask.