Chessmaster: The Art of Learning review

  • Simplicity of program
  • Great learning tool
  • Challenging opponents
  • It's still just chess
  • Online play
  • Difficulty of opponents

Chessmaster: The Art of Learning. Everything you need to know is right there in the title: this is typical chess with focus on cultivating skill of players of every level. This game doesn’t really offer much to the hack ‘n’ slash gamer with an itchy trigger finger - you won’t find any crazy modes like Killer Queens or Hide and go Rook here. However, if you’re a fan of the cultured man’s black and white battlefield, this is right up your alley.

Whether you’re a novice to chess or already have an ELO rating of 1300, The Art of Learning can help make you a better player. First, enter your date of birth and how often you play chess and you will receive a rank according to the ELO rating system used by national chess associations. Afterwards, make a selection of any of the activities that are all designed to help improve skill. Attending the academy (which is instructed and narrated by eight-time National Chess Champion, Josh Waitzkin) will teach you the basics and then go further with advanced tactics and endgame strategies.

Already know the intricacies of the black and white jungle? Dive right in for a challenging ranked game or check out some famous annotated games and see, with notes on strategies, how some of the champs won their titles, play-by-play. Not interested in any of that either? Play one of the puzzles or minigames; isolating a few pieces and finding ways to attack colorful fruits or finding the path a knight must take in order to capture all the pieces makes for casual fun and still emphasizes fundamental principles of chess.

The play online option is one that sounds more exciting and worthwhile than it actually is. For those who want to play chess on the internet, they might as well download a free version from some web browser. That’s where all the action is. More than likely, if you’re buying this game it’s not for online gaming purposes. It’s for learning the game - getting to know the ins and outs. If you know the ins and outs, you’re probably in it more for staying on top of your game.

Aside from little perks like changing your chess set at anytime and playing with a glass set or 3D animated Raving Rabbids (which the novelty of wears thin quickly) this game is pretty cut and dry. Even though most gameplay and options tend to be predictably consistent, The Art of Learning is a great tool for skill building and is put together in a simple easy to use package with something to offer everyone.

Feb 28, 2008

More Info

Release date: Nov 01 2007 - PC
Feb 12 2008 - PSP (US)
Available Platforms: PC, PSP
Genre: Strategy
Published by: Ubisoft
Developed by: Ubisoft
ESRB Rating:
Everyone: Mild Fantasy Violence


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