Check vs. Mate Review
Do you like Chess but wish there was more, like animations and 3rd person hand-to-hand combat twists that can change the outcome of a game? Well my friend, your prayers have been answered. Check vs. Mate, while carrying a snooze fest of a name, is actually pretty damn exciting when you get down to it. The Fritz program/algorithm/engine/whatever used to drive AI opponents is not one to be taken lightly at pretty much any difficulty level. I'd consider myself a person who is familiar with Chess, and I was getting handled at difficulty setting zero. So either I'm much more terrible at the game than previously believed, or this game isn't messing around. The one area I did find solace was in the not-so-traditional game modes that allow for a player to decide the outcome of a game by applying hit points to game pieces and letting you duke it out in a side battle of DDR-style or full on 3rd person controlled matches. There are also a few mini games and puzzle modes, mostly centered on solving scenario problems, that seem like they could be fun for some but it never really held my attention. Controlling the game in regular game modes is a simple point-and-click affair. It only gets a little more complicated in the variations that require you to press up, down, left, or right in time with an on-screen queue or the other that gives you full control of character movement along with a block, quick attack, and special attack keys. Visually, Check vs. Mate delivers a decent punch with individual character/game piece animations, a little less than a dozen stunning backgrounds, and a smooth framerate to keep everything nice and tidy. I can't say that I'm a big fan of the audio in this one, but I will say that they at least tried to include some background music and a few character sounds to give some level of depth beyond the animations. With an online mode to play against friends (or strangers), the replayability improves by a little bit, but unless you're a diehard Chess player, I can't really see this being a game that gets played for more than a few rounds in each area. But who knows, maybe this fork from the tried and tested method of Chess is just what people have been waiting for and some fantastic new era of board games played on the PC will be ushered in by its release. Probably not, but if it does, you read the skeptical prediction here first!
Final Rating: 80%. Is your old Chess board missing hand-to-hand combat? Check vs. Mate has you covered.