PC software: Scrabble 2003

Another year, another Scrabble release. And this one’s not much different to the last version. Most notably, Ubi Soft has added support for XP and Internet tournaments and, thankfully, dispensed with the annoying animations that popped up between turns in the previous edition.

As well as the plain-vanilla Scrabble game and the Conundrum and Anagram options already available, now you can play several point-scoring word games. In Word Challenge, the PC dares you to make a specified number of words from your letters, while in Making the Point you must achieve a predetermined score in a limited number of moves.

While any Scrabble fan knows strategic moves are the way to win, Duplicate Scrabble is the tactic-free alternative to the traditional game. Thought up by the impossibly-named Hyppolite Wouters, Duplicate Scrabble gives all players the same tiles. Each must place a word using them, but scores are kept hidden until all four have had their turns. The highest-scoring word stays on the board and the player who placed it takes the points.

Word lists are on hand if you want to check a word before you play it; you can even ask the PC to give you a hint or two if you’re stuck. Playing in Championship Mode gets more serious — you’ll be playing five games against the timer and any invalid words will automatically lose you a turn.

This edition of PC Scrabble is definitely an improvement on the last, though not enough of a leap for owners of the 2002 version to upgrade. And there are some niggles. Placing tiles on the board one at a time is a chore, especially with long words. There is an option for typing your word, and we suggest you use it, as manoeuvring the hand to pick up and drop the tiles is fiddly.

Our final tip is to kill the background animations. These random effects really add nothing to the game, which runs a whole lot faster with them turned off.

Publisher: Ubi Soft
Developer: Ubi Soft
URL: www.ubi.com

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