If you thought you knew all about Scrabble, think again. Scrabble 2005 takes the classic word game and adds features which, for this fan anyway, make it rather special.
Before you can start to play you create a profile, which includes something about your Scrabble ability. This process both gives you a rating that dictates how well the computer plays against you and means that more than one person can use the software. These factors comes into their own when you start to do things like play ‘Tournaments’ and ‘rated games’ in which your ranking can rise as you improve.
As well as playing against computerised opponents, you can play against real people both across a local network and online. There is a different rating system for online games to that used when you play against computerised opponents or across a local network.
So, you begin to see that Ubisoft has worked hard to add value to the traditional board game. But there’s more than just standard Scrabble on offer. You can, should the mood take you, look at classic games with move-by-move commentary or, to help improve your game, ask the Mentor to give some assistance as you play.
Several games that don’t use the Scrabble board are on hand as diversion or to help you hone wordplay skills, while for a bit of fun on the standard Scrabble board you can try a game which offers a rack of eight letters (though only seven can be played at any one time), and one where one of the seven letters on the rack is always a blank. There are other extras and variations, but we wouldn’t want to spoil the fun of discovery by describing them all.
Gameplay is nice and tidy. There are no fancy sounds, twee animations, or twiddles to distract from the serious matter of trying to score higher than your opponent, and on the main gaming screen the elements of the board can be move around to suit your own particular style.
In the Scrabble board-based games you can choose to play with time limits on each turn if you want to heighten the tension, and if you aren’t playing a Tournament you can take advantage of the built-in dictionary, looking up words you aren’t sure are real, finding anagrams of the tiles on your rack, and so on. And it’s great to be able to play different computerised players, with their own rankings and styles of play.