Board and card games have proven pretty popular on Xbox Live Arcade, so it’s a bit surprising that we haven’t seen more of them. The latest board game to join the party is one of the most widely-known, and one of the hardest to master.
And that might be the biggest thing working against Chessmaster Live - chess simply isn’t that easy to play, to the point that a lot of people just aren’t interested in investing the time to learn. However, Chessmaster takes this into account, offering one of the most user-friendly chess programs ever seen.
With the assists on, simply highlighting a particular piece on the board offers up information on where said piece can move. The game also shades possible moves that could lead to a piece being captured in red. Finally, if you move one of your pieces within range of capturing an opponent’s piece, the game will point that out with a green arrow. If that move will put your piece in jeopardy, the game lets you know that as well.
All in all, the game is very user-friendly. And the A.I. opponents you can choose from in the single-player game all have different personalities. Some will play defensively and shrewdly, while others go on the offensive immediately, often making ballsy - if stupid - moves.
Of course, you can play the game with another person both on one console or over Xbox Live. Rounding out the package is a puzzle mode that offers more advanced chess players creative, game-related challenges.
Chessmaster Live doesn’t look like much. But it delivers exactly what it promises, and there’s not really much to complain about because of it.
Feb 5, 2008