Words With Friends [2.99 / Free / HD] has dominated the multiplayer word game genre on the app store for a long time, but recently some new competitors have elbowed their way in: Kalimat [$2.99 / Free] and Wordfeud [Free]. We've loved Words With Friends since way back when, but it can't hurt to see what the competition has to offer.
Both games are Scrabble-style word games with asynchronous multiplayer - Kalimat through OpenFeint, and Wordfeud through its own system. Both also have free, ad-supported versions to try (Kalimat's cripples some features). But there are a few things that set these games apart from each other.
Wordfeud beat Words With Friends to Android earlier this year and then made its way to the App Store. It's not pretty, with its muted colors and plain interface, but it's quick. I ran into a few small bugs, but nothing game breaking. Currently, it supports six dictionaries, including Danish, Dutch, Norwegian, Swedish, and both English tournament dictionaries (TWL and SOWPODS).
Screenshots of Wordfeud
You also have the option of using a randomized board. I've had a good time with randomized games since I've been playing Wordfeud. For example, things get pretty tense when you're trying to keep your opponent from making a word that lands on a clump with two triple-word scores and a double-word score. Meanwhile, the regular board layout is the closest to the traditional Scrabble layout I've seen.
Kalimat, on the other hand, will probably become my new game of choice. It includes Pass & Play (a feature Wordfeud lacks), Open Feint/Game Center achievements and an Arabic dictionary. But what I really love is Remix mode.
Remix mode rewards quick play. If you make your move within one minute of starting your turn, your points triple. Within two minutes, you earn double points and after that, things go back to normal. You can also swap letters once per turn without penalty, and one hidden square on the board awards bonus points.
Screenshots of Kalimat
It's a gimmicky mode, but it can be a lot of fun. Scores inflate like mad. Thanks to a ridiculously lucky move (all seven letters on multiple double-word squares during the first minute of my turn), I managed to get over 1500 points with one word. It was hilarious, but my opponent missed the humor of the situation somehow.
There are two things that keep me from recommending Kalimat wholeheartedly. One is the board layout. It's easy to land on multiple high-scoring squares in a single turn early on, resulting in huge leads even in normal mode. I've also had a lot of difficulty finding random people to play with. I'm not sure whether the problem is the size of the playerbase or the way Kalimat makes matches, but there have been times when I could only find one other player.
Unfortunately, neither game has the missing feature a lot of Scrabble fans are looking for: stat tracking. They both keep track of wins and losses with a list of previous games, just like Words with Friends, but neither keeps a detailed profile with stats. If that isn't a deal breaker, both Wordfeud and Kalimat mix up the Scrabble formula enough to keep things fresh.