Review by wintermind
Battle vs. Chess is one of the best chess video games ever created.
This is a true chess game, not just an engine with graphics interface. The underlying engine is Fritz, a very good engine which plays strong, lively and mean. On top of this, they have built a chess game that revolves around the theme of good vs evil, or angels vs demons.
There are only two figure sets in Battle vs. Chess, but these two figure sets are very well animated and detailed. Unlike the much more recent Pure Chess on PS4, Battle vs. Chess has fully animated figure sets. In addition there is also a non-animated Staunton figure set in light-brown and black which is sometimes nice because it is less distracting and allows you to concentrate on the game.
The individual chess matches take place in one of several background settings, which also fit into the theme of good vs. evil.
Overall, the graphical presentation of Battle vs. Chess is outstanding.
About the game. There is a campaign mode containing two campaigns, the good army and the evil army campaign. Each campaign is a series of chess variants. Not one of the matches in the campaign is a normal chess match with FIDE rules, but rather each game is a chess variant with some "fantasy" rules added, or variations and imbalances to the armies. Only some of these chess variants would be worth replaying, but they are all worth playing and winning at least once to advance in the campaign. The campaign mode is highly addictive and I was actually sad when I won and finished both campaigns.
In addition to the campaign mode, you can of course also play endless matches against the computer at any desired difficulty. I found though that it does not make sense to set the Fitz engine to anything higher than 6 (the maximum I think is 9). With higher settings, the PS3 never seems to finish calculating it's next move.
Even more content is included in the form of various chess puzzles.
I need to say something about the action aspect of Battle vs. Chess. You can play the entire game with normal FIDE rules, or with the chess variant rules in the campaign mode, respectively. However, you can also switch the engine to one of two action modes. In action mode, when you try to capture another figure, you have to battle it out a bit like in the classic Archon. If you win, you take the enemy figure as if you had been playing with normal FIDE rules. If you loose, your move is negated.
There are two such action modes possible, one is a quick-time event like mode, which did nothing for me, and the other is a massive skirmish where all 4the figures on the board start moving and fighting somewhat reminiscent of Dynasty Warriors, this is a mode I found quite funny. It is possible to ignore the action-modes entirely and disable them, and I would recommend this, as it makes the gameplay much deeper.
The music in Battle vs. Chess absolutely fantastic: orchestral and truly epic. You can and will listen to the soundtrack for hours on end.
In addition to the music, there are fitting sound effects and absolutely outstanding voice acting. The voice acting is mostly during the narrative part of the campaign mode. As a side note, Battle vs. Chess contains several human languages, English, German, Russian on one disk, and this is something I value very highly because I speak these language and like to switch the interface to whatever language I feel like.
There are two expansions available for the PC version of Battle vs. Chess, but unfortunately not for the PS3 version, which is a shame. These expansions add not only new scenery, but also new action-battle mechanism, including a bomberman-like mini-game. I wish I could play this on PS3 but is simply not available.
Battle vs. Chess is a fantastic chess video game for anyone who likes chess and video games. The engine is strong and delivers interesting, exciting games. The graphics are outstanding. The music is phenomenal. This game is overflowing with content and ideas. It is tragic, but with a name like "Battle vs. Chess" not surprising at all, that this game got involved in legal battle which I believe is the reason we never saw the expansion on PS3 and the PSP never even materialized. In any case, Battle vs. Chess is a fantastic game and if you love chess and video games you will absolutely fall in love with this.
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Product Release: Battle vs. Chess (EU, 05/11/11)
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