Wordament is fast becoming Microsoft’s flagship free Xbox Live title as it exists on Windows Phone, Windows 8, iOS and now Android.
Put simply it’s a Boggle clone and was actually released a while ago as a non-Xbox LIVE game before quickly becoming one of the most popular games in the marketplace, at which point Microsoft asked the developers to convert it to a free, ad-supported Xbox LIVE title.
Although always secondary in a word based game, the design and presentation of Wordament really is a cut above the competition, incorporating the unique Windows 'Metro' (or whatever it is called now) User Interface to create a very neat, stylised and intuitively easy to use interface.
Unlike other word games such as Wordrix and Word Tangle, Wordament is a never-ending, 24/7 online word tournament. This means that when you join a new game it will probably be half way through an existing online ‘board’ as only one is active at any time. It’s not really an issue but it is something to be aware of as you begin playing, as when you join a game with ten seconds left you don’t have much time to move up the leaderboards. Thankfully each game only uses around 12-14k of your data (before ads are accounted for) so you can play a hundred games and barely use a megabyte of your data allowance.
Like all Boggle-style word games, you can make words in Wordament by chaining together letters in any direction, up, down, left, right or diagonal. You can also rotate the board to help you look for sequences of letters to help you find words.
The words themselves are scored as either ‘common’ or ‘obscure’, with bonus points available for lengthy words, although I’m not sure if you get bonus points for obscure words. To shake things up further, some boards have a double letter tile, and you have the option of trying to find every word combination possible that contains this double letter (e.g. CH, or IE). If the possibility of bonus points wasn’t enough, naturally an achievement is also linked to this.
The end of each match displays a leaderboard showing the top players across the world, their score, the number of words they found and their country, along with a range of players either side of your own position. If you want to look at the full leaderboard you have to leave the round to do so. On their blog the developers explain this is the easiest way to pull out the relevant information for you before the next board starts. It also helps keep your data usage to a minimum.
On the home page you are presented with a bundle of extra stats relating to your performances, including your biggest scoring word, cumulative score and the number of games played. What the creators of Wordament have understood is that you cannot provide gamers with enough stats and leaderboards. Bungie understood this long ago and it’s one of the reasons Halo stands a cut above nearly every other FPS out there for longevity (in the Left 4 Dead series you don’t even know your cumulative zombie kill once you’ve surpassed the relevant achievements). They’re presented in a way that means you can completely ignore them if you wish, but if you love stats then you can look them up any time allowing the game to appeal to casual and hardcore gamers alike.
Multiple languages are available and while one achievement will unlock if you play in a different language it’s not something the uni-lingual players like me will ever really use. However, for multilingual players it’s a great way to test the vocabulary of your second or third language and obviously it’s nice for people who aren’t first language English to be able to play in their native language if it is supported.
As you’d expect, the game plays the same across all platforms, the major difference being that the Android/iOS version has a much smaller achievement score available for the player to unlock.
As a consequence a number of achievements that exist on Windows 8 and Windows Phone have been lost. By luck or design this has made the game far easier to ‘complete’ as the most difficult achievements have been discarded. The easier achievements means the game can be ‘completed’ with less than an hour’s play, especially if you have stats imported from other versions, which will probably unlock several automatically.
For Windows Phone owners it’s nice to see that Microsoft appear to have implemented a 50G limit on achievements on Android/iOS while Windows Phone get access to the usual 200G.
It’s been a bone of contention with some fans that one of the main USPs of Windows Phone, namely the ability to play Xbox Live games with achievements, was being diluted by Microsoft releasing Xbox Live-enabled games to the platform.
At least if the achievement score is limited on Android/iOS then it still provides some exclusivity to Windows Phone owners.
Just about the only real difference from playing it on a tablet is if you hold the screen too close to your face the tiles can feel too big and your peripheral vision may struggle to pick up some of the letters on the edge of the screen.
If that happens then there is an option for the screen to zoom out, making it easier to see all the tiles.
Overall Wordament is easily the best word search game available. The online nature of the never-ending tournament means that you need to have a phone signal to play, but it's not really an issue given the small amount of data usage as long as you have a signal.
The range of ways to accumulate points combined with the presence of achievements makes it a cut above the competition and comfortably the best free Xbox LIVE game on the marketplace.
This review is taken from my blog: http://zombiesatemyxbox.com/2012/12/27/xbox-live-android-ios...