Wordament (Win 8) Reviews

    25 Dec 2012
    12 1 4
    Wordament is pretty much a larger scale version of the Windows Phone edition.

    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.

    By becoming an Xbox LIVE game it also syncs your friends list to the ‘frenemies’ section. Your frenemies are other players who you have selected to follow, tracking their scores and leaderboard positions and showing you their best daily score. It’s a great little system but if you don’t have too many friends with Windows Phones it feels a bit odd to be randomly selecting strangers to have as frenemies.

    Worse still, the ‘beat your frenemies’ achievement is fundamentally flawed, as it’s simple to quickly select a frenemy who performs worse than you in games and then beat them in the subsequent game to unlock the achievement. Its purpose in encouraging you to use the frenemies system is understandable, but as an achievement it’s pretty worthless and I actually unlocked it by accident after adding some frenemies without realising it.

    Speaking of achievements, they are by and large thoughtfully implemented and the team explain the thinking behind their approach in a blog post. Although you can get roughly 50% of the achievements within a day or two’s worth of gaming, a quick glance through them shows that some of them are very difficult to unlock, particularly an achievement for being number one in the world in any given round. Nonetheless, it’s also an apt achievement for a word game that ranks players across the world, so it’s hard to quibble with its presence in Wordament, even if I’ll never come close to unlocking it.

    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.

    Due to the connection to your Xbox LIVE account it even brings your stats from the mobile game with you, which means that after your first game you’ll automatically unlock several achievements if you have them unlocked on your phone. The flip side of this, of course, is that the game needs an internet connection to play, and given the wifi-only nature of the Surface tablet so far it will be difficult to play on the go unless you connect your tablet to a mobile broadband connection.

    Did I mention that even though it’s the same game, and you bring your stats with you, the achievements list is still separate? Even in this technological marvel of an age it’s still too much to ask for a connected achievements list, which means if you have the game on your phone and tablet/desktop you will now have two separate versions of Wordament on your achievements list (three if you include the new iOS version) and even if you unlock an achievement on one game, chances are you’ll have to unlock it again on the other platform.

    Truth be told this is only a minor irritation, as the quality of the game still shines through. It’s a bit more challenging playing it with a mouse, as it’s obviously designed for touch, but it’s still playable. However, don’t expect to be able to unlock some of the more advanced achievements as you will simply be unable to build up enough speed to do so.

    As long as that doesn’t put you off it’s still an essential download for anyone with Windows 8, although for some reason it sadly doesn’t make use of Windows’ Live Tile capabilities, which given the multitude of stats the game makes available to you is a real shame.

    This is taken from my blog: http://zombiesatemyxbox.com/2012/12/24/windows-8-xbox-live-g...