One of the oldest games in existence has now been made for next generation consoles with “Pure Chess.” Not much has changed with the game of chess in the last 1,000 years except its move to beautiful HD graphics and a ton of game modes that will teach you how to become a master. Chess is one of my favorite games; however, I don’t get the opportunity to sit down and play with friends too often. Playing “Pure Chess” online is almost as good as the real thing.
The single player games have many really interesting game options. The first is a series of exhibition matches against the computer A.I., and there are several different difficulty settings, letting you find a match that will give you a challenge or at least match your skill level. I enjoy setting it a little higher than my skill level so it can be a real challenge, but I do learn some new strategies that I might not have thought of. For the most part, the computer A.I. is really good, though sometimes they make some questionable moves. It might be that I just don’t understand the strategy that it is going for, although on the weaker levels, it seems like it is making mistakes on purpose.
The next mode I tried out was tournament play versus the computer. When you start a tournament, you play three rounds of four games with increasing difficulty levels. You have to win all four games to move on to the next round of the competition; it takes a long time, but it can be a real mental workout. Other than the tournaments, there are dozens of tutorials that can teach even the newest players how to play the game. There are even checkmate in five move tutorial puzzles, which can be very tricky, but they can be a fantastic lesson in strategy and planning ahead.
You don’t have to just play with the computer – you can also play with friends. You can play with one other person locally, and when you do, you can customize the game board, pieces, and even some of the rules, making things interesting. The only thing that is disappointing about this game is that you cannot play online with a friend in real time. You can play online with a friend, though it is similar to how people play by mail. The way the correspondence chess works is you make your move and it creates a note, which is sent to your friend’s game via the Playstation Network notification system, and then the pieces will move on their end to reflect your move. It is interesting, but games can go on for days at that pace. In this day and age, you would think playing online in real time wouldn’t be hard; maybe they will patch that in eventually.
One of my favorite things about this game is the stats. It keeps track of everything, not just wins and losses; it breaks down everything, including moves, win percentages, how many times you used a certain strategy, etc. You can also earn Playstation trophies for things you do in the game, such as winning certain match types and completing some of the puzzle modes.
Overall, I did enjoy this game. For a couple of dollars, Pure Chess makes for a great little downloadable game, especially for chess fanatics. The graphics are stunning; you can see every little detail on the pieces and the board, and the music is soothing. There aren’t too many options to play online with a friend, but playing against the computer is amazing. If you are looking to play online, you can skip this game, but if you want to learn how to play or you just want to play a fun, quick game, then this is one of the best chess simulation games on the market.
-Robbie Vanderveken is the digital operations specialist at The Times Leader. E-mail him at [email protected]