App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
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People love word games, and people love playing word games with their friends (see what I did there?). So the appearance of a new spelling-heavy multiplayer affair shouldn’t be much of a surprise. What is a surprise is how War of Words Apocalypse ends up luring players in with a very familiar setup, then blindsiding them with a bunch of unexpected twists that can only be described as “chaotically awesome.”
Much like that other “This is Totally Not Scrabble” game, War of Words Apocalypse begins simply enough. Players match up with other players (random, Facebook, Game Center, etc) and start placing tiles along a board with the intention of spelling words and taking advantage of letter and word multipliers in order to score more than their opponent. One immediate difference, however, is the inclusion of multiplier tiles in the players’ hands. So in addition to all those letters and “wild cards” and such, it’s also possible to create one’s own 200+ point three-letter word with enough luck and planning. And things only get nuttier from there.
War of Words Apocalypse ratchets up much of the typical word-building formula considerably. Scores can get absolutely insane with the addition of personal multipliers, yes, but there’s also a leveling system attached to every player’s profile that will unlock even more bizarre bonuses as they progress. At level 2, stars are introduced that allow a player to place a word anywhere they want on the board. At level 3 they get bombs that can be used to both clear away blocked sections of a board (those exist now) as well as destroy an opponent’s letter tiles. At level 6 there are Extra Turns and so on.
The only real problems I’ve encountered while playing War of Words Apocalypse - aside from occasional but typical server hiccups and connection troubles that plague all online multiplayer games - have been the controls and the ads. The controls work well enough but sometimes my touch doesn’t register properly, resulting in not grabbing my intended tile or dropping a tile in the wrong spot. Since turns aren’t timed and everything can be undone until a turn is intentionally submitted it’s nothing more than a minor annoyance, but it’s still an annoyance. The ads pop up after every turn and can take several seconds to go away. They're also pretty obnoxious but thankfully don't interrupt the game itself.
It’s entirely possible and even understandable for a player new to War of Words Apocalypse to think that they’re just playing a slightly darker-looking version of a game they already have, but to simply dismiss it as such would be a huge mistake. Stick with it, and it starts to turn into a totally different beast. One with plenty of unpredictable moments and results that can keep any word lover busy for a long time.