Version Reviewed: 1.1
Graphics / Sound [rating:5/5]
Game Controls [rating:3/5]
User Interface [rating:3/5]
Re-use / Replay Value [rating:3/5]
They say that relevant names are important when launching a product, but 3D Chess really takes the cake. It's chess...in 3D!
Okay, so maybe it's a little bit more than that. It's chess...in 3D...with knights and medieval things and horses!
[img id="img_0044-300x200.png"] 3D Chess uses a medieval skin for its 3D chess board, complete with animations and sound effects. When your knight takes a bishop, for example, you get to witness the horse rearing and the bishop toppling over in defeat. It's like something out of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, and the resemblance might well reveal the inspiration behind the game, though you don't get a 3D view—there are two different ways to view the board, but you can't pace around the pieces while you ponder you next move.
You can play against the game's AI, or you can do battle with another player; the game prompts you to chose which one at the beginning of each round. You can adjust the level (easy, medium, or hard) of the computer in the options screen, where you can also adjust the volume of the sound effects and the background music. The options screen is accessed by double-tapping the top of the screen, which isn't exactly intuitive.
Also, the buttons are somewhat hard to hit, and the entire interface feels a little insensitive. For a game whose appeal is driven by its slick graphics, having an unresponsive interface seems like shooting yourself in the foot. It's most noticeable when trying to start a new game—hitting that tiny "play" button might take you a while. The game board is in 3D, meaning that more-distant pieces are also harder to select and move. There's an undo feature available, but it's still frustrating to deal with the inaccuracies. In the future, I'd like to be able to scroll and zoom around the table; that would relieve a lot of the headaches. Of course, as time goes by, you begin to adjust to the game and it starts to feel more natural.
Despite those problems, you can still feel that the developers poured a lot of thought into 3D Chess. The interface might not be as responsive as I'd like, and the buttons do feel small, but the underlying menus are built with minimalism in mind; it's chess, and that's it, and the game benefits for it. The music has received almost as much attention as the graphics. And I might be a miserable chess player, but I let one of my chess-loving friends have a go at the AI on the "hard" setting, and it cheerfully bested him—the point being, the AI provides a good challenge no matter what your skill level, which is very important for apps of this type.
3D Chess is just a slickly packaged rendition of a truly classic game, but at $0.99, you're not losing too much. The graphics and animations are honestly amazing, and I love them; the ability to play an AI or a human opponent is also much appreciated. If I didn't have so many issues with tile selection and button sensitivity, I'd love 3D Chess. As it stands, it's not outstanding—but it's certainly good, and it's the first 3D chess app that I've seen. If you're going to buy a chess app at all, you might want to consider this one; it's useful for showing off to your friends, and it's still cheap!
Check out the video to see the animations (they're lovely):