Draw Something 2: Worth Another Sketch?
Draw Something remains one of the most popular and highest downloaded games in mobile gaming history. Omgpop’s electronic, internet enabled take on cooperative Pictionary struck a cord with players young and old. Zynga bought Omgpop and the Draw Something franchise back in 2012. Draw Something 2 represents not only the sequel to the massive casual gaming juggernaut but also the future of the premier art game on mobile devices. For those concerned that the Zynga accquition of Omgpop would negatively affect the Draw Something franchise, you can put those fears aside, Draw Something 2 is not only bigger and better in nearly every way than its predecessor but continues the same relaxed IAP system that helped make it such a big hit in the first place. Meet the new king of social art gaming, it is the same as the old king, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
The basic setup for Draw Something 2 is virtually unchanged from the previous version. You are given a selection of words to choose from, and using your touchscreen device, must draw the word to a recognizable enough degree that the player on the other end can recognize it. Success results in coins for both players that can be used to purchase colors, or different mediums like paint brushes, highlighters, and crayons. Draw Something 2 brings more colors, mediums, and words. Just as importantly, it also integrates a whole host of other game modes and features that make Draw Something 2 much more than just an update and make it a true sequel.
The most obvious addition, and by far the coolest, is the ability to follow anyone else playing Draw Something 2, in a setup reminiscent of Twitter or Instagram. There are some amazing artists playing Zynga’s latest effort, and Draw Something 2 does a great job at putting them on display. Initially filling your home page with select artists. Eventually, and ideally, it will be filled with artists you have gone out of your way to find and enjoy. You can watch every picture get drawn line by line, and watching some great artists create photo-realistic art with the relatively simple tools available seems almost educational.
It is really fun watching professional quality artwork created right in front of you, almost like a miniature art lesson each time. Watching your own artwork, especially something that came out half way decent, getting recreated line for line by the game is even better. I am by no means a great artist but when something came out particularly good, I couldn’t help but show everyone around me not only the art itself but the process I took to make it. Every picture becomes not only a piece of art but its own story, told in a few seconds to a few minutes.
Like the original, the amount of tools available initially are fairly restrictive, just the pencil tool and a few colors, but it eventually, either through IAPs or continual playing, becomes a virtual art studio. As your studio expands so does your abilities and while, unless you are a very talented artist, your first drawings will be simple and rudimentary, eventually you will surprise yourself. I had a passing interest in cartooning in high school, but haven’t, outside of the original Draw Something, sat down and drawn anything since. Using a 7” tablet and a stylus that was made more for productivity than art, I was able to create a few creations worth showing off (that is my Aliens picture to the right) and eventually able to find another artist with decent ability that was a lot of fun to play with. Zynga also throws in daily guess and draw challenges and a free draw mode to fill out the experience.
As with the original, the bigger the screen the better. Utilizing ten inch or larger tablets, some artists make some amazing artwork, while others are forced to squeeze their creations onto the tiny screens of phones. My experience was in between, using a Nexus 7 tablet, and felt greatly improved over my phone.
There are, unfortunately, still a few issues with Draw Something 2. You still run into quite a few players who are more interested in quickly getting coins than making a nice piece of art. Why anyone would want to play and then just write out the word is beyond me, but thankfully, with cross platform play there are more than enough players to start a new game with a new player at anytime. The bigger issue, and one that returns from the original, is the limited “ink” level. For whatever reason, Zynga limits the amount of work that can be done on a single piece of art. This can make creating detailed artwork more challenging than it needs to be. It isn’t an IAP issue, since there isn’t a way to “buy” more ink, it is just a limit put on to the art for no explained reason. The edges of pictures also seemed to be cut off by the pallette, but that didn’t really negatively affect my enjoyment of the game.
Buying the premium version gives you access to the sparkle pen, a number of stars and coins and removes the in game Ads. It felt worth it to me, your milage may vary, but the free version allows access to everything else, so spending a dime isn’t really a necessary.
Zynga’s follow up to Omgpop’s phenomenal title doesn’t disappoint. While the ink restriction is extremely disappointing, the game is nearly perfect otherwise. The wide variety of tools and words and increased social integration makes Draw Something 2 feel like a worthy sequel. Regrettably, the ink restriction rears its ugly head once again and keeps Draw Something 2 as a casual online pictionary game, rather than the revolution in social art that it very well could be. It may not change the art world, but it is never the less a fun, casual exchange of virtual art, and that holds value in its own right.