Rook To D5, Checkmate! – Pure Chess Review
This game was reviewed on PlayStation Vita
Fans of the classic board game Chess can now get their fix on their PlayStation 3 or Vita, as Pure Chess is now available on the PlayStation Network. Whether you’re a grizzled veteran of world tournaments, or just a starting player curious about the game, this is one title that is sure to satisfy your turn-based strategy needs.
Pure Chess has a wealth of game modes for gamers to explore. For new players, your first stop will be the Tutorial mode, which outlines not only the general rules and controls available, but advanced tactics such as en passant and castling as well. Lessons explain everything in a very clear and effective manner, often asking players to repeat a shown action themselves, which increases retention. There is a lot to learn in chess, and the title does a fantastic job of helping train players in every aspect of the game.
One place players will probably visit first, and constantly return to, is the Exhibition mode. Here you’re able to play a single game against an opponent, with only your pride on the line. Competition can either be controlled by the computer or by another player by passing the Vita between each other. If you’re against the AI, there are seven difficulties ranging from the lowly monkey setting to the god-like grandmaster. Other options may be selected as well, such as turn timers and the ability to undo moves, giving gamers the freedom to customize a round as they see fit. Players of any and every skill level will find an appropriate challenge for themselves in this mode.
For those looking for a long-term game, Tournaments are the place to be. This feature pits the player in a series of four consecutive matches, with increasing difficulty. Three tournaments are available: Beginners, Challengers, and Masters, each more challenging than the last. These are difficult mountains to climb, but if you’re looking to test your chess prowess, then you’ll have quite the bit of fun here.
If brain teasers are more of your thing, Pure Chess has several Mate challenges for you to figure your way through. As you may have guessed, players are presented with a pre-set board and are tasked with reaching a checkmate within a set number of moves. As the amount of moves increases (starting at one and ending at five so does the difficulty; and, with 20 tests per move, gamers will need to keep their wits about them if they want to beat them all.
As many chess fans know, a round can take up a sizable amount of time; sometimes you may not have the time needed to complete a match, especially if you lead a busy life. Thankfully, like in the real world, you can Play by Mail with a friend over PSN. This mode allows gamers to play a single match over a long period of time, with each player sending their next move via a PSN message. Upon receiving said mail, you’re brought to the board where you last left off, and can make/send your next move.
Something that needs to be pointed out is just how incredible Pure Chess is in terms of graphics. Three different sets of pieces are available (Staunton, Checker, and Williams) and each is crafted with amazing detail and can be made out of three different materials dependant upon your preferences (such as wood, stone, or metal). Every part of a match seems to have a wonderful shine to it, and displays beautiful real-time reflections of the environment as you pan the camera around the board. Speaking of environments, there are three locations to play in: museum, library, and penthouse – all of which have their own aesthetic design and significant detail, which is impressive considering the player’s attention will be mainly focused on the board.
The only downfall to the wonderful visual presentation is piece movement, which suffers from what appears to be a loss of frame rate, creating jumpy looking movements. This is a shame, as it distracts heavily from gameplay; what would otherwise be an impressively immersive game of chess is hampered by such a small, but devastating, visual flaw.
Pure Chess also steps up greatly in terms of music, which fits in perfectly with the game. While the title does not feature its own original soundtrack, it does contain a wide array of real-world tunes from four genres: classical, jazz, chill, and nature. Players may recognize pieces they’ve heard before or are familiar with (such as Chopin’s Nocturne in E-flat Major, one of my personal favorites), and every song stands out enough to be heard, but sufficiently holds back to not distract or break concentration. Should you decide you don’t like certain genres, they can be turned off individually allowing players to only listen to, say, classical, or a mixture of jazz and chill. Regardless of what you choose to listen to, the collection of songs presented is fantastic and could not have been arranged better.
When the match finally ends, Pure Chess scores an easy checkmate. Packing a wide array of modes, stunning visuals, and a borrowed soundtrack of wonderful tunes, this is one title that hardcore and casual chess fans alike will absolutely need to own. So give the game a download, and start working your way to grandmaster status!
Final Score: 4.75 / 5.0 and a gold plated chess set.
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