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Majestic Chess PC CD-ROM

Published by JoWooD Productions
Developed by Fluent Entertainment
Release Date: 25th February 2005
Price: £19.99

It's fair to say that if you're going to create a chess program that's going to stand out then you're going to have to be fairly creative. There are already a large number of quality chess titles out there for serious chess players, from companies such as Chessbase, that play a game of chess as well as it can be played and they are worthy opponents even for Kasparov himself. Casual chess players also have titles such as Chessmaster which provide a multitude of virtual opponents (although quite a lot of the lower level players often blunder quite badly) and a wonderful collection of elaborate boards and pieces. What's Majestic Chess got to offer then? Let's find out.

Instead of simply having volumes of different Chess sets and hundreds of virtual opponents Fluent Entertainment have instead focused their game on taking a chess beginner from the very basics to the level of an accomplished player. To make this often tedious route more entertaining they've wrapped the whole thing up in an adventure that breaks the lessons up into manageable chunks. The game includes Single player, Multiplayer and Adventure modes. Single player allows you to play against any one of 24 opponents or take part in tutorials or a variety of puzzles. Several historical chess games can be viewed too. The Multiplayer game allows you to go online and play against your friends (and it works without fuss too requiring you to quickly set up a user name and password). I was pleased to see around 20 people available to play against which is a lot better than certain chess games out there although it's not as many as you'll find on the Play Chess servers that the Chessbase games support.

The heart of Majestic Chess, and what makes the game so unique, is the Adventure mode. The Adventure mode plays out over eight chapters and sees you controlling a hero on horse back who is attempting to free the land that is under the grip of the evil Sargon. The Adventure mode plays out in a similar fashion to a turn based strategy game such as Heroes of Might & Magic III. You'll point and click your hero character from one location to another in order to receive tutorials and challenges. To begin with much of the landscape will be shrouded in mist but as you complete an objective the mist will disappear to reveal new locations. Each chapter will require you to defeat a villain such as the Faceless Knight in Chapter 1. You'll begin each chapter with just the King and completing your objectives will earn you other pieces, gold and artefacts. The gold will allow you to buy either additional pieces or artefacts. Artefacts allow you additional abilities. Potions, for example, enable you to take back your last move and pan pipes allow you to confuse your enemy into making a bad move.

The Adventure mode does not throw you in at the deep end and you only receive the knowledge you need to overcome puzzles within the current chapter. Don't worry if you're a complete beginner though as the game shoe horns you into the game very nicely. The tutorials are concise and keep things as interesting as possible. In fact to start off with you don't even play with a full chess set as it's all kept simple and clean by only giving you a few pieces to play with. The second chapter moves on to basic end game techniques such as checkmating with two rooks and such like but again you'll be drilled on how to play out the puzzles with a small tutorial before hand. As you can imagine the game becomes more challenging from this point on but with that in mind it must be made clear that Majestic Chess is not for those whose chess skills are already well established. It's only beginners and intermediate players who are going to benefit from what Majestic Chess has to offer.

There's only so much you can do with the graphics in a game that is focused on chess. That said Fluent have done a great job in keeping everything looking good and have included 2D, 3D and fixed perspective chess sets. Personally I preferred the fixed perspective sets as they are more detailed than the 3D ones on offer (which don't really compare to the 3D sets in Chessmaster 10th Edition and Fritz 8). If you're the kind of gamer who doesn't like the 3D or fixed perspective sets though you can switch to the more basic 2D sets. If you prefer the look of the 2D sets you'll be pleased to know that you can switch to them in the Adventure mode if you want to.

Chess games usually cause deaf gamers no problems at all and I'm pleased to say that Majestic Chess is no exception to this. All of the information in Majestic Chess is in text so you'll have no problems at all in enjoying the game in its entirety. There aren't any captions but to be honest it's a game where none are really necessary. The game manual weighs in at around 40+ pages and it explains all you need to know about the game.

Majestic Chess isn't the most comprehensive chess game you can buy but for those who want to learn the chess fundamentals properly and would rather be taught in a more subtle fashion it's a product well worth purchasing. Those chess players who are looking for software to take them to an advanced level really shouldn't be looking at Majestic Chess though and instead should look at the Chessbase titles such as Fritz 8 and Hiarcs 9 etc. If you are complete beginner or intermediate player though Majestic Chess is definitely worth the asking price of £19.99. My only gripe with it is that it's all to easy to forget to save in Adventure Mode as you're not warned about losing your progress if you happen to try and quit the game without saving. As an introduction to chess it's certainly a unique and enjoyable product that serves its purpose in getting those with a passing interest in the grand old game more interested and better educated about chess.

Overall Game Rating: 8.0/10

Those looking for a game to introduce them to the delights of chess would do well to pick up a copy of Majestic Chess. Whilst it's not a game that will challenge advanced chess players it's great for teaching the chess fundamentals to those who would find the more traditional methods of learning chess rather boring.

Deaf Gamers Classification:

(Click the letter or here for details)

All information within the game is in text and whilst there aren't visual clues etc., none are really necessary.