And if you really don't want to mingle with random word fiends, New Words With Friends adds one other crucial new feature: The ability to play computer-controlled opponents, even while offline. To better simulate the sensation of playing a real-life foe, the computer takes a couple of minutes to execute its turn--and each match seems to pit you against a differently-skilled A.I. player, as I found myself quickly dominated in one match and comfortably ahead in another.
New? Not really
All told, New Words With Friends is much like old Words With Friends, albeit shinier and with a couple added options. But did we really need a new app for this? You get the sense that Zynga is running out of ideas after spinning the "With Friends" brand into a few other avenues in recent areas--including Hanging, Scramble, Gems, and Running--with none matching Words' phenomenal success.
Also, there is one negative takeaway to the New version: It's a free, ad-supported app that replaces the previous versions, and anyone who owned the earlier premium release is supposed to have ads disabled in the current app. That's been the case for many folks I've seen comment online, but not for me--obnoxious full-screen ads appear after each turn, and there's currently no option to pay a fee to kill the ads. Perhaps it's because I hadn't played for so long that I didn't have a Zynga account synced up anymore, but that rubbed me the wrong way, having paid back when.
Does New Words With Friends have the power to reignite the letter-pairing passion of old fans? Possibly. It's the same game, albeit in a much glossier package, with more ways to find opponents (either real or fake). It was nice to jump back in for a bit, like meeting an old friend for drinks and reminiscing about the glory days, but I didn't feel the strong desire to stick with it for long. Luckily, it's a free download, so you have little to lose--aside from brainy battles with your buddies--by trying to restart your own Words fixation.
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