Check vs. Mate

Overview

Are you ready for the most incredible strategy game out there? I swear it’s not chess related. Okay, so I lied, its chess related. Check vs. Mate is a not just the ordinary chess game where you plainly move pieces to defeat your enemy. It challenges you in providing a variety of combat game modes where you use your best offensive and defensive strategies while the enemy attempts to outsmart you. As the pieces advance within a game, there is a small animation of them fighting each other to take over their spots, just as in Battle Chess.

Gameplay

When I think of chess, I think of playing head- to-head against another player. The other player could be in the same room or online in a room of their own. With this multiplayer set up, you can either play against another person via LAN connection or head-to-head on the same computer. I expected the multiplayer element to be better implemented, especially with the great look of the game overall. I didn’t feel up to setting up another computer, and no way was I having another person sit with me at the same computer, because I scream obscenities when I play chess.

With the singleplayer mode, you are given more choices to play. I was pleasantly surprised with the various modes that were available. I was glad that I didn’t have to lose at chess all the time; in fact, I won a lot of the puzzle challenges. If you don’t know much about chess, you should start with the tutorial which will show you the basics of playing chess and how each piece moves. There are other modes such as skirmish, battlegrounds, campaign and minigames.  I enjoyed the minigames since I really suck at chess and they were more about trying to figure out puzzles. I’m freaking awesome at puzzles, or so I thought, until I played this mode. You can choose between challenges, one-timers, standard or hard puzzles. The one-timers are supposed to be solved in one turn while the standard and hard puzzles had a limit of moves.

The battlegrounds mode had two subcategories, duel and slasher, which mixed up the gameplay of chess a bit. Instead of killing off pieces normally, you would be placed in a fight mode scene where you would do a reaction type game, such as in Duel or with Slasher, fight until the other piece dies. You can save your own piece and have the enemy retreat or you can completely mess up your kill and lose the space. I had fun with this mode but suffered with the reaction game. It was easy to move the camera around by right clicking on your mouse and moving the camera around then locking it in position by right clicking again. The camera movement grew annoying when I wanted a full top down view of the board. It was easy to set it but it would “unlock” after I’d access the menu or paused the game.

Graphics

The graphics are similar to Battle Chess but with a darker feel. The pieces are a bit more realistic and appear crisper in their animations. It keeps the classic feel of a chess board, but selecting the arena was close to what you would do in Mortal Kombat. The board would then be sitting on a stone walkway surrounded by whatever you selected. All you need is the pitfall so you can do a fatality and send them falling to the pit. The 3D aspect of the pieces allowed for the game to give you more realism as if you are moving the pieces yourself instead of just clicking.

Fun Factor

I normally hate losing every match against other people, but losing against the computer really made me angry. I was glad that the AI was able to thwart my advances and cause me to scream obscenities at my laptop. I really enjoyed the minigames, and I felt that this gave a secondary look into how chess strategies are utilized in other types of combat games.

Overall

Check vs. Mate is a good game to check out if you enjoy playing combat/strategic style games that make you think and leave you upset when the computer beats you. The different modes allow you to not just play a casual game of chess but to challenge yourself to other avenues of strategy. Set up the perfect attack and see how you fare against the computer or in a head-to-head match with another player. Although the singleplayer was fun, I felt that the game needed more of a multiplayer function and fell short in providing a great human vs. human matchup.