Chess is a game that has endured for centuries and for good reason. Combining a simple concept and unrivaled strategy, it’s a game that millions play every day. However, at the same time, it’s not a game that has enjoyed a myriad of success in video gaming. Sure, franchise’s like Interplay’s Battle Chess and Codemaster’s Chessmaster have had some success, but it’s fair to say that a title the likes of Southpeak games’ “Battle vs Chess” has never been produced.
On the surface, the game seems to capitalize on concepts brought to life in the first Harry Potter film, making the pieces come alive, while at the same time maintaining the elements of the game that have made them so worthwhile for so long. This is only a small part of “Battle vs. Chess” however, as it is chock-filled with mini-games that can not only make you a better chess player, but some that stretch the game into something completely different, all the while holding on to enough of the core strategy that has made chess a winner for so long.
Consisting on three primary gameplay modes, classic, slasher and duel, “Battle vs Chess” has something for everyone. In classic mode, you have your typical game of chess, with pieces that act out their moves. Watching the gameplay, it’s pretty interesting to see each piece move and capture one another. Much like it’s older release “Bloodbowl,” which is based on the classic Warhammer tabletop game, Southpeak has captured the essence of the game it’s bringing to life and has made it just as enjoyable. One complaint however is that after a few moves, it becomes a little more difficult to tell what each character is on the board, which could slow down the game a bit. Luckily, the guys and gals at Southpeak allow gamers to revert the pieces to their normal state with just a button press.
Here is where we have the essentials of a great chess game. Built off the engines from the Fritz 11 and Super chess games, “Battle vs Chess,” is anything but a good-looking, but dumb version of chess. Through some of the extra gameplay modes, you can brush up on your skills by playing through some of the greatest matches of all time and through various other scenarios. This element of the game is a blast, considering some of the tasks ask you to avoid checkmate and win the game in two turns. It’s enough to drive any chess nut crazy, yet cool enough to suck a regular gamer in.
This is even the case with the game’s strong difficulty. Simply put, the A.I. is as tough as they come and will challenge you every time you play. With that being said, the game has definite appeal to serious chess players and thanks to a thorough tutorial, those that are dedicated to learning the game and becoming better as well. Add in online features, making it easy to link up and play with players of all skill levels and you can’t ask for more out of a chess sim.
However, this title is much more than just your standard chess sim.
The slasher mode is a bit different as the action is fast-paced and while possessing most of the elements of chess, allows the gamer to engage in hack and slash gameplay to claim spaces on the board. Showing off the graphics of the game, which looks like a cross between Bloodbowl and something out of Dungeons and Dragons, “Battle vs. Chess” is more than aesthetically pleasing.
Crazily, there’s even more here as the duel mode offers another twist in gameplay. There are even a few cool mini-games, such as mana-gathering where gamers have to capture jewels by moving their pieces according. What this does is combine puzzle elements, with the movements of the chess pieces, making for some addictive and interesting gameplay and gives people who could care less about chess a legitimate reason to give the game a try.
All in all, much like the other games the company is gearing up for this fall, “Battle vs. Chess” is loaded with content and polish and looks to be a winner.