Developer: Borazone
Price: $4.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.2
Device Reviewed On: iPad

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★½
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★★

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

Though chess has been around for centuries, it actually was not used to determine the winner of the Crusades. However, in the world according to Checkmate that injustice is not allowed to stand, as the game allows players to to lead the armies of King Richard to reclaim the Holy Land in the form of bishops, rooks and knights rather than archers, catapults and, well, knights. This is a title which will likely be greatly enjoyed by chess aficionados, as the solid AI and top-notch presentation makes for a very impressive app.

Checkmate is clearly aimed at the hardcore chess players of the world, as the game throws you straight into the action without any real crash course on the basics of how to play or strategies for victory. Once you move past the introductory screen you’re immediately thrust into your first match, and while the difficulty claims to be set to easy this still isn’t a game for novices. The AI will effectively counter most known chess strategies, and will aggressively seek to move your king into a checkmate. If you’re not the type of person used to thinking several moves ahead then this game isn’t for you.

It’s this unforgiving nature that makes the game, while excellent, hard to recommend for everyone. There’s no tutorial to teach you how to play if you don’t already know, and the lack of any sort of hint or tip system in-game means that you’re totally on your own in this particular “battlefield.” I suppose this is one Crusade which you’ll have to tackle on your own.

It’s a shame that the game isn’t more newcomer friendly though, as it’s visually stunning and could easily stand as the last chess app you need on the iPad if it made life a little easier on beginners. Everything, from the pieces to the background to the board itself is richly detailed, and the included Vs mode makes this a great option for playing with friends when you’re bored or busting it out in the car during road trips.

If you’re an iPad owner who happens to know the pros and cons of the Queen’s Gambit and are well-versed in exactly when to castle then this app is perfect for you. If that previous sentence didn’t make any sense and you’ve never heard the world castle used as a verb then you should probably steer towards a more beginner-friendly app. Once you’ve learned to ropes though be sure to come back to Checkmate, it’s very impressive.

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