[Social Gaming] Hanging With Friends, Reviewed

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I’ll cop to the fact that while I love certain social media services, like Facebook, I never really jumped on the social gaming bandwagon. I hated the idea of haranguing my friends for a plank for my barn or some kibble for my virtual pet, and I also thought that it would look kind of sad if I was on FarmVille or somesuch all day when I was supposed to be posting posts like a bonafide adult.

But Words With Friends hooked me immediately. And I’ve been eagerly awaiting the sequel- the goofily named Hanging With Friends. Zynga’s most recent entry into the social gaming sphere is about as addictive as its predecessor, and thankfully requires none of the Facebook begging its social network titles necessitate.

The interface is far more visually engaging than the simple scrabble board of Words With Friends, and instead of a straightforward Hangman board, the avatar you select is dangled by a bunch of balloons over lava. Balloons represent turns, and each strikeout lowers your little dude further down.

Each turn begins with you watching your opponent guess, letter by letter, the word you gave them on the previous turn. Then you get a turn to work out the word they’ve selected for you, with a number of strikes determined by the length of the word they’ve chosen. Longer words get fewer strikes before you lose a balloon, and shorter words allow for more.

Finally, you are given a random selection of high value and low value letters to compose a word for your opponent’s turn, and a random triple letter or double word score is added- but you have to come up with a long enough word to achieve the bonus. Then, as with Words With Friends, you wait for your opponent to come back and take their turn. (Gallery below, including a screen shot of James whooping my pigtailed avatar’s ass.)

As with Words With Friends, Hanging With Friends allows you to add games via a random opponent and Facebook as well as the other options- but it’s more private than something like FarmVille or FrontierVille because you don’t have to announce to the world you’re playing. All in all, Hanging With Friends is slightly less intellectual than Words With Friends, but far more whimsical, and ultimately at least as engaging. Turns are a bit more time consuming- many a family member has incurred the wrath of Kim over the past few days for interrupting my turn on Hanging With Friends.

Have you given Hanging With Friends a go? Do you anticipate continued gameplay? What do you think of Zynga’s latest addition?

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