May 17, 2019 at 5:46 PM #810
Rating: 2.0 – Poor
Dissappointing, no ideas, uninspired: Pure Chess
Pure Chess is one of the very few chess games available on PS4. The stand-out feature of Pure Chess is the graphics engine and the detailed chess sets and matching sceneries. There is of course a classic Staunton figure set, and there is also an Isle of Man chess set, one of the oldest chess sets in existence, which is rendered in extreme detail and realism. In addition there are the unavoidable silly sets which probably no serious player will ever use: Halloween, Easter island and so on. The surrounding sceneries are rendered in a hyper-realistic style, but also heavily blurred, therefore you will not actually see much of the scenery in detail. Some sets and sceneries can be mixed and matched, but not all combinations are possible.
The graphics engine and models are excellent. However, there are also not animated, so unlike for example Battle vs. Chess (PS3), Online Chess Kingdoms (PSP) or many other games you do not actually see pieces walking across the board and fighting in out when one piece takes another.
Apart from the graphics, Pure Chess is a total disaster: there are very few game modes, the chess engine plays in a boring and uninspired style, there are absolutely no analysis features. Even games like Chessmaster (PS2) give you a full-text analysis of the current situation in natural language, suggest moves and can argue why it suggests this move – Pure Chess has none of this. There are barely any bonus games, there is simply nothing. You can play against the machine, set difficulty and so on, or play against human players, and that’s it. It is shocking how the designers of Pure Chess did not only not advance chess on consoles, but did not even manage to reach the state of the art.
Regarding the music, it is elevator music. Compare this to the unforgettable, epic soundtrack of Battle vs chess.
There is definitely a demand and need for chess video games, as opposed to "raw" engines like Crafty or GNU chess, and chess video games are still relevant. Chess games on consoles have a long history, and previous chess games – I am thinking in particular of Battle vs. Chess (PS3), and Chessmaster (PS2) – have set the bar very, very high. I really wanted to like Pure Chess, but all Pure Chess consists of are very good graphics, trying to hide a chess engine which sucks, in a video game that has no ideas and does not even manage to implement the minimum you would expect from a chess video game. There are much, much better chess games on console (the three titles I mentioned above, any of the Chessmaster versions on console, countless others… if you want correspondence chess there is Red Hot Pawn and also let’s not forget the Chess Tempo website).
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