Word Ace combines two game ideas that are so compatible, it's a wonder someone didn't come up with it sooner. Specifically, Word Ace combines Scrabble and Texas hold 'em, and the result is an astonishingly fun game. The core gameplay focuses on forming words out of letters--the primary appeal for Scrabble fans--but the betting portion of the game will make hopless junkies of gamblers as well.
If you're familiar with the rules of Texas hold 'em, then you'll feel immediately at home with Word Ace. Each player starts with two cards and participates in several rounds of betting, while trying to make a winning hand out of the five additional "community cards" that the dealer places in the middle of the table. But instead of using playing cards, Word Ace uses letter cards. Like in Scrabble, each letter has a score assigned to it, and the goal is to form a high-scoring word by combining your letters with the "community letters." You can play single-player games against bots to practice, but the best part of the game is its online multiplayer.
Hopping online is a seamless experience, and because there's a large, active community of players, you won't have to wait around for other players to join. In fact, unlike in some online poker games, there's no excessive waiting at all, because each match is limited to five players, and everyone has a reasonable time limit to make bets or play words.
While other players are calling, raising, or folding, you can tinker with the letters. You can mix them up, handpick a few to toy around with, or lock in a word anytime you want. A locked-in word will count as your final word at the end of the turn, but you can always change your word before the round ends.
A well-implemented chat feature makes the game feel remarkably like sitting around a table with opponents in real life. A tiny line at the top of the screen displays chat messages in real time as other players enter them. Tap an icon, and the chat line expands into a translucent chat box you can use to enter text.
All players have a brief profile that shows their level, their highest-scoring word to date, and how much money they have. You can customize your profile with any picture you'd like. You can even put in three pictures--one as a standard poker face, one for happy, and one for angry--and you can switch between them in real time during games.
It's clear that an exceptional amount of attention to detail, and some very smart design decisions, went into developing Word Ace. You can create a friends list and easily invite your buddies into a game when they're online. You get experience points that let you level up, and you can unlock achievements for things like making everyone at your table fold. The phone vibrates when it's your turn, which is very helpful when playing while doing something else. And, in a feat of technological wizardry, the multiplayer is cross-platform, meaning that your opponents might be using an iPhone or iPod Touch.
You get a thousand chips a day for free, which is more than any non-addict (even one with a tiny vocabulary) is likely to blow through. The supremely dedicated can buy more chips using real-life money. About the worst problem you'll run into is less-than-friendly players who have less-than-polite things to say in chat, but you can report them for moderation and leave the table anytime you want. Word Ace is a must-own for fans of word games, poker, or gambling in general.
This review was provided by GameSpot mobile content partner SlideToPlay.com.