2B or not 2B?
A brief history of Draw Something for newcomers. In 1985, Angel Games releases a boardgame called Pictionary, a turn-based sketch-guessing party game. In 2012, developer OMGPOP releases what is for all intents and purposes a digital version of that same game, and it does so just as the social mobile gaming scene starts skirting the stratosphere.
Everyone's playing and talking about it - critics, celebrities, talkshow hosts, people who would never normally admit in public that they play games. As a result, Zynga buys the studio for a chuckle-worthy $183 million, the CEO and founder of OMGPOP goes mad in public over post-acquisition, ex-employee "dissent", and then the game fades into the shadows of popular culture, as per the fate of all such things.
It's a story that raises the question of what exactly a Draw Something sequel can offer that couldn't have been resolved in an update. The first, cynical answer to that question is that when a company spends the better part of $200million, essentially on one game, and just as that game's popularity is starting to bottom out, then there isn't really a choice.
The answer from Draw Something 2 itself is an honest one though, and it's given the moment you first fire up the game: social, social, social. There are galleries where you can admire and vote up some truly remarkable community creations - the kind that in fact make you want to shut the app down immediately from sheer inferiority and jealousy. Starting up games is easier too, whether that's through Facebook integration, any contact on your phone who's scratching away at their touchscreen, a random opponent, or even a handful of celebrities who have been roped in to make you feel as though you're sketching with the stars.
In the game itself, it's very much the same as before - select a category, choose a word from within that category, and then sketch the answer out as best you can for your opponent to guess, before they take their turn. This time around though there are a handful of new tools to allow even the weakest artist to make something a little more impressive. The Highlighter allows you to add layers, for example, while the Pixel Pen adds an 8-bit vibe to your creations, and the Stamp allows you to add some easy icons to your work.
You'll need game currency to unlock these new tools though, as well as unlock additional categories if you're really stumped to recreate the words you're offered. These words in general are considerably more challenging than in the first game too, so you'll be more tempted than ever to dip into your starting pot of game currency. Sketch-guessing success does reward you with a little currency depending on the difficulty of the word, but there are no prizes for guessing that there are also packs available from the in-app purchase store.
There's nothing revolutionary about this new version of the game, and little that couldn't have been refined via an update, but there is one big nagging irritation with the game at launch. There is no native iPad version of the game right now, only a free or a premium iPhone version, the latter of which adds more starting currency and a few exclusive tools. By its very nature, the game cries out to be enjoyed on a larger screen, and it's hard to shake the suspicion that many devotees of the game will find themselves shelling out twice when a native iPad version inevitably arrives.
There's no denying that Draw Something 2 is a superior game to even the original in just about every way - there are more tools, it's easier to show off your finest creations to the world, it's easier to learn how to make better drawings as a result, and there are more ways than ever to get stuck into a round. It is, in every way, simply a better version of Draw Something. For many that will be more than enough, but if you've had your fill of the game already then there's not much here to entice you back.
What's Hot:The original game improved in every way - better social functions, more drawing tools, and a neat gallery system.
What's Not:Did it really need a sequel? The absence of a universal app for such a high-profile title is disappointing. Increased word difficulty encourages IAPs.