I have played a lot of different versions of Scrabble on the computer over the years, but this is by far and away my least favourite version. It cannot be played on computers running the new Vista operating system fortunately, so you will need a computer than runs Windows 98 to Windows XP. Or better still, you could buy a different version!
When you load up this game, you will find you have a few different choices to make before you start playing. You can choose to play against up to three players, so there will be four players including yourself, and you can set the computers Aritificial Intelligence to one of ten levels. You would think that setting it to level five, in the middle, would put the computer's intelligence at a relatively moderate level. Unfortunately, this is not the case and I actually find this level rather a challenge. Considering I have always done extremely well on previous Scrabble versions, I am hard pushed to believe that it is me who has so drastically fallen behind! I am rather more inclined to believe that the difficulty levels have been set a little high.
I find that the computer scores an average of around 40 points per turn when set to level five, and that it frequently blocks me off from playing by laying its tiles across mine in a series of little words that I have never heard of. This can be very frustrating as it feels as though I am trying to play against some kind of whizz kid that I will never win against.
I find the actual play very awkward too as I have to select each letter individually and drag it up to the board one by one. On earlier versions of scrabble, I could simply spell out my word and lift it up all in one go. It really does irritate me that this is supposed to be a newer version and yet it has gone backwards in its play abilities.
I do not think much to the graphics in this game either I am afraid. I feel they are trying very hard to be modern and in doing so, they make my board and tiles look like a playstation game rather than traditional scrabble pieces. I think a lot of Scrabble fans out there will agree that if it isn't broken, then people should not try to fix it. That is certainly what I feel about this version of Scrabble at least. I myself have reverted back to using the 1998 version on our laptop (which runs an earlier operating system than our main computer).
One day while studying The new York Times Alfred Mosher Butts calculated the usage of all the letters, from here he went on to create probably the most popular word game ever "Scrabble® ". He assigned different point values to each letter and decided how many of each letter would be included in the game. He decided on only 4 S's since he wanted to avoid to many plurals. Over the years the game has had many face lifts but the basic essentials remain the same, after all why change something that is already a success.
You start with 7 tiles/letters and as with the board game the object is to create as many high scoring words as possible and end up with a higher score than your opponents. The game is played in a crossword fashion, meaning all words must be linked together. After placing your word on the board you draw new tiles from the bag to maintain having 7 tiles in your hand. Two blank tiles are in the game giving you the option to use them as any letter you choose.
The board itself is a 15 * 15 square. There are bonus squares all over the board forming a symetrical pattern. The four corners are red and are triple word squares, meaning should your word fall onto one of these your scores is trebbled. in the centre of each bording row of sqaures is another trebble word square, making it theoretically possible to get a trebble trebble. diagonally from the four corner trebble word squares there are double word sqaures forming a cross almost to the centre. Other bonus squares are double letter and trebble letter which as I said form a pattern around the existing bonus squares.
In this PC version there are various pretty boards to use, but all have the same characteristics as above. The board can be tilted and zoomed by using the keyboard. And word entries can be checked by the games dictionary, which contains many weird words.
To start the game each player must create a profile, which stores info about the games they play i.e. wins losses etc. and the type of game played. There are different variations on the game available to play. Some of them are quite hard some a bit easier, but all good fun.
The setup page for the game lets you set up the games the way you would like to play them. You can choose to NOT have challenges and whether or not to lose a turn on an invalid challenge. Other options include letting the computer decide who plays first. playing first gives you an automatic double word for the first word played. All other option associated with the board game are also available including passing.
Some of the nice points are you can also use larger boards with more squares.....right up to 21*21 this makes your chances of getting a trebble almost impossible, and being able to play on the internet with someone else who also has the game.
The basic gameplay is simple but the playing isn't quite as so. So get reading and learning all those new words your going to need to have fun at this most classic of games, especially the two lettered ones they can be very beneficial at the end of a game when you have few letters left.
The system requirements are:-
Any windows based system
Pentium II 400Mhz
650Mb free disk space
Graphics card with 3D and 16mb memory
Direct X 8.1 or better
I purchased mine in Game for £9.99 but it is readily available in good software shops