Chess isn’t the first thing that springs to mind when thinking about console gaming. Chess games were often given away on the front of PC magazines amongst the latest demos and never really amounted to anything special. However, Pure Chess has arrived for Xbox One and I had the pleasure of reviewing this bad boy and the result may just surprise you. Developers, VooFoo Studios have taken chess and polished it up nicely for next gen and added some nice little features.
It’s really hard to sit here and make Pure Chess sound like one of the most amazing games to ever be created, but sometimes less is more and that certainly is the case for this one. To get into the mood I donned my turtle neck, beige chinos and dark rimmed glasses. I sat down in my recliner chair, poured myself a glass of port and entered the 5×5 code into my Xbox. The download size is probably one of the smallest I’ve seen in a long while and took next to no time to install.
On the title screen you’re greeted to a basic yet stunning 3D flyover of a chess board, all the pieces are stood at attention ready for the next battle to commence. The main menu is just as basic with only 6 options to choose from, Local play, play online, store, challenges, learn and profile. Nothing in there has a hidden menu and there are no complicated menu structures to confuse you, what you see is what you get. There is an options section where you can change the screen size and stuff but the thing that stood out for me was the ability to change the music to your preference. There are 4 genres of music, chill, classical, jazz and nature. Whilst I’m not a fan of any of them I have to say the music offers a nice gentle relaxing atmosphere to what can be a tense battle of skill and risk (too far?). The selection of music is amazing and includes bangers such as the 2nd Movement by Mozart and Aquarium by dance floor filler Camille Saint-Saen.
The single player difficulty levels cater for everyone and range from Monkey to Expert, if like me the last time you played chess was in a rainy caravan on the east coast in 1986 then monkey difficulty is just fine. After you have selected your game Pure Chess shows you exactly was it’s made of, the piece selection. The basic version of the game comes with the standard Staunton, Checker and Williams pieces but if you go all out for the Grandmaster Edition then this includes themed pieces such as Halloween, Easter Island and Isle of Lewis (I have no idea what that is but the pieces look nice). For the basic pieces you can then choose what they’re made of for example, if you choose them to be made from crystal then they’re transparent but look stunning.
On the next screen you’re given what can only be described as the maps selection. You can choose where to play your game in some exciting locations such as the Museum and the Library, or if you’re a bit wild go for the random option to really spice things up. You can have up to 6 games running at the same time, this will give you plenty of scope to practice you’re tactics and different approaches depending on your play style.
But what if I don’t know how to play? I hear you ask, well Pure Chess has you covered on all angles. There is a learn to play section but there’s no fun in that is there. When you fire up a game and click on one of your pieces the squares on the board are highlighted with the moves your player can perform, for example the Rook can only go in straight lines so the board highlights this for a bit of assistance to new players. I have to say after my first game I had not played for years but still managed to check mate the CPU opponent netting myself 50 gamerscore. However that being said on my second game the CPU pulled out some moves that Garry Kasparov would be proud of. Garry Kasparov is like a famous chess player who beat a computer once, well mate I beat mine twice!
On a serious note Pure Chess looks stunning, the pieces are ultra realistic and the surroundings fit in nicely with the mood of the game. The music isn’t tedious and creates a mood fitting for such a relaxed atmosphere. For amateurs and pro’s alike Pure Chess offers something for everyone. I have to be honest and say it was a nice change to play something that lets you play at your pace and the only goal is to out smart your opponent whether it’s the CPU or another player using the online mode. If it hadn’t been for the chinos cutting off the circulation to my nether regions I could have sat for hours. If one day you’re at home, it’s raining and no other game is floating your boat, add me on XBL and I’ll gladly play a match with you, but don’t expect good sportmanship. Chess is a cut throat business.
FULL GAME FEATURES
- Stunning photo-realistic visuals.
- Features a range of beautifully ornate chess pieces and locations.
- Step-by-step tutorials that teach you basic, intermediate, and advanced chess techniques.
- Play against your friends or anyone in the leaderboards worldwide.
- 3 Tournaments to test your tactics.
- 100 Bonus chess puzzles to ponder over.
- Track your ELO and Tournament ratings in the ranking boards.