Review by birdieball

"SCRABBLE COMPLETE n. :A solid computer adaption of a good board game."

Scrabble Complete is a solid game with a surprisingly low amount of flaws. This game suits all scrabble players. If you are a hardcore scrabble fan or just a casual gamer, you will most likely be satisfied by this program.

If you are not familiar with the game of scrabble, I will briefly explain it. In scrabble, you have a rack of letters that you must place on a grid (the game board) to form words in a crossword-puzzle fashion. You must intersect one of the words already made with your word. You can add to other people's words, or perhaps make two words at once. Letters are assigned a point value, and letters that are tougher to use have a higher point value. For instance, a Q and Z are worth 10 points, X is worth 8, C is worth 3, and E is worth 1. The game board itself is full of various types of bonus squares, such as ''triple letter score'' and ''double word score''. Scrabble is a game that is much tougher than it sounds, and it requires a lot of strategy to master it (and to learn most of the 100,000-odd words that are accepted, every word from AA (rough, cindery lava)to ZYZZYVA (a tropical weevil).

Scrabble Complete is a game that is capable of improving your play. It features 25 different skill levels as well as many features that can improve your skills. During a game, you can bring up a list of possible moves, and it explains the strategy behind each one. You can also read the definition of each word as it is played. During a game, you can save progress and come back later.

There is a mini-game menu, which has different categories of help. There are mini-games to help with certain things, like 2 letter words (there are 97 of them), 3 letter words, regular words, placing all 7 letters (resulting in a 50 point bonus) and word placement. There are others, too.

Scrabble Complete also catalogues every game you play and you can go back later and have the program analyze them with you. There is also a user stats page, where the game keeps track of your overall performance, your best moves, average scores, and such. Then, the game recommends a Mini-game that would most help you, and also gives you a skill rating that shows you where you rank with other users and computer players.

You can play against anywhere from 1-3 human or computer opponents, or any combination of humans and computers. Humans can Hot-Seat (pass the mouse around as turn changes), or hook up via the Internet or a LAN network. There is also a 1-player practice mode, a tournament mode, and a timed ''Blitz Mode''.

The game looks pretty good. You can play with a 2-D top-down view or a 3-D view. The tiles are easy to read, and there are no problems with the graphics. You can change the appearance of the board, the backdrop in which the board is floating, and the color of the tiles. When possible, the game uses Visual Effects that look pretty good, although they sometimes cause slowdown (not that it is important in a board game).

The music in the game is a major downfall. The game features 8 synthed, 4-minute-long, elevator-music-like monstrosities that really sound absolutely terrible. They all sound about the same, too. If for some reason you like these... these things, then there is a good music jukebox that can be accessed from the options menu. The only things in this category that save the game are the facts that the jukebox has an ''off'' button and the computer can save music files to play instead.

This game also comes with free Boggle (another word game) software, which has 5 different types of Boggle on it. It looks fun, but it only works with Windows 95 or 98, which are OS’s, which I do not own. Still, it is a bonus.

+Many skill levels
+Many mini-games to improve your skills
+Capable of Internet and LAN play
+Word definitions available
+Stats and Games are kept track of
-Some graphical effects give slowdown
+the aforementioned music can be turned off

This game would improve your scrabble skills by leaps and bounds. If that is what you are looking to do, let it be known that I raised my average score by 195 points since I got this game.

If you honestly think that you are willing to play A LOT of scrabble, then I would recommend this computer version over all of the other ones. If you own one of the other ones, it is not worth getting this one, though. If you are new to scrabble, I would recommend playing the actual board game first, and getting this if you really like it. Buying this, in my opinion, is pretty much worth it. If all else fails, you still might learn some of those damn SAT words by improving your vocab.

Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 05/09/03, Updated 05/19/03

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