Battle Chess represents a fairly unique approach to designing a chess game around standard European chess, but make it fun and humorous for people who don't normally find chess entertaining. Conservative chess players may choke at this offbeat approach, but it turns out to be quite entertaining for beginners and quite challenging for intermediates.
The game's 3D mode graphics are quite lavish. By using skillfully drawn-in blemishes to mimic veins, the game manages to create a fairly decent representation of a marble chessboard. The character portraits have an impressive amount of detail, including little things like wrinkles in clothing and facial expressions. Although the animations tend to be a little stilted with noticeable movement gaps between frames, the substance of the animations makes up for that. The military pieces, like knights and pawns, march sternly while the more courtly pieces, queens and bishops, have a light glide to their movement. The rook has a particularly good animation -- it breaks from a stone tower shape into a monstrous humanoid form, lumbers to its destination, and settles back into its tower form. The piece versus piece animations are even more interesting as you'll see them killing each other with a variety of comical or bizarre methods. Even if you don't have the slightest bit of interest in chess, you'll find yourself setting up several games just to see the pairing animations.
The three main sound effects are much less remarkable with each corresponding to one or more pieces. Armored units, like pawns and knights, move with the sound of rattling plate armor, while unarmored units move with a rustling of cloth. Only rooks have their own distinctive rocky sound. In addition to the three main effects, you also hear some minor effects during certain piece match-ups that are fairly well done but not particularly impressive.
Battle Chess offers ten levels of difficulty. The AI doesn't plan ahead in the easiest mode, so even first time players can beat the computer with a bit of forethought and some applied baiting strategy. However, each difficulty level is noticeably more skilled than the last, until you get to the final level. At that point, the AI is quite adept and does think a good number of moves ahead, but it's not up to the challenge of taking on expert human chess players. Novice players can learn from the AI by switching sides and bumping the difficulty level up significantly during a game. In that case, the AI will make the best move for you according to its calculations. It's not as effective a learning tool as you might think, though, because you're not privy to the AI's long term plans and may not see its intentions.
Still, Battle Chess is meant to be an introduction for gamers who wouldn't normally give European chess a second thought. In that aspect, it succeeds admirably, combining a good range of difficulties with entertaining graphics. Expert chess players, however, are likely to find the lack of a high level AI disappointing.
Graphics: Lush graphics with great animation sequences.
Sound: Good sound effects, but not many.
Enjoyment: The comical piece versus piece animations make Battle Chess quite enjoyable for novice and intermediate chess players.
Replay Value: Battle Chess provides ten difficulty levels with distinctly increasing AI skills.
Battle Chess is a quite typical chess game, but it comes with a twist: all pieces are represented by small, realistic figures that walk around on the chessboard, and when one piece takes another, they both take part in an animated battle. There is a different animation for each permutation, depending on which pieces are capturing or being captured. You can also play in 2D without animation.
The game's opening library includes 30,000 different moves, ensuring a variety of games will unfold across the 10 skill levels.
People who downloaded Battle Chess have also downloaded:
Battle Chess for Windows, Battle Chess Enhanced, Battle Chess 4000, Risk 2, Battle Chess, Monopoly (1999), Battleship: The Classic Naval Warfare Game, Axis & Allies
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