Draw Something 2
For a game that's so simple, Draw Something 2 has been hard to review. The game's core concept - sending pictures back and forth between your friends and guessing what they represent - is so simple that it's really hard to change it in any meaningful way. To boot, it's not even a new concept; all the original Draw Something did was create a mobile and social implementation of the classic board game Pictionary. That's not to denigrate OMGPOP's work on the original game. It was a clever interface that took great advantage of Facebook, the iPhone's touchscreen, and asynchronous multiplayer gameplay. Like millions of people, I was pretty addicted to Draw Something when it first released. Then, like many, I grew tired of the experience and drifted off to other mobile games.
With the release of the sequel, the question is: "Can Draw Something 2 bring back lapsed players?" Despite the many new features, the answer to that question is "No." However, avid players will find that OMGPOP and Zynga have added some intelligently designed interface options as well as some interesting social functions.
The drawing interface has been improved with some nice new tweaks (like a slider than scales your pen or brush size) and is generally cleaner and more useful than the first game's. The developers have also targeted more advanced artists with a host of new stamps, brushes, and pens to unlock. Pattern pens lay down stripes or checkerboard patterns, and you can even buy a pixel pen with in-game currency to create your own 8-bit style art. Users with the requisite art skills and the will to either grind or pay for these new tools will be able to create some impressive art. Unfortunately, people like me, whose art skills peaked in 6th grade, won't be able to take advantage of much of the new functionality. Also, both the paid and free version of the game nickel-and-dimes players by putting many of the cooler tools behind a paywall. Obviously, you could spend the time to grind for the in-game coins, but it's going to take a long time to get everything this game offers.
The new social functions are interesting. Your home page is now an Instagram-style feed which shows off artwork done by your friends, other players, and celebrities like Carly Rae Jepsen. Seeing the high-quality and elaborate artwork that skilled players can accomplish with all of the tools unlocked in the game is great. You can also easily share your pictures to your own "My Drawing" gallery, or quickly post them to Facebook or Twitter.
One of the big problems with Draw Something was the annoyance of friends who didn't do their part to keep the match going. Now, there are community-wide daily drawing and guessing challenges, which provide another way to earn coins when the people you are engaged in matches with aren't being responsive. I also like the addition of a random match function, which pairs you up with another active mystery player from the game's servers.
In many ways, this is a quality sequel. Despite that much of the new functionality must be unlocked through grinding or paying for coins, there is a lot to chew on for dedicated players. The new matchmaking and social functions also add a new level of engagement to the experience. However, for those who quickly burned out on the first game, I'm not sure this is enough to get them to pick up their virtual art pad again.