Similar to the older versions, Chessmaster 6000 carries one of the toughest Computer AI of its time. The most noticeable difference between Chessmaster 6000 and the older versions (5000, 5500, etc.), is the rating system. The rating system rates you as you beat your opponents, almost depicting a career mode in a sports game. Although it may not appeal to all, Chessmaster 6000 is one for those people who are interested in exploring chess.
Chessmaster 6000 does well in adding in all the touches to make the graphics interesting. There are numerous 2D and 3D boards (Some boards also come in different views such as Perspective, Bird's eye, and Over the shoulder.) to choose from, ranging from marble boards to chinese teak. The chess pieces also come in a large variety, including Staunton's different set of chess pieces, Napoleon, Mexican, and much more. There is even a board called Surreal Landscape, which takes place in a funky 3D place, although it can be hard to see with the angle it has. Nevertheless, it adds a nice touch in variety in the graphics department.
The sound in Chessmaster 6000 consists of play by play annotated by a person and a musical score in the background . The play by play consists of a person saying your every move and the end result of a game. To sum it up, the play by play is based on a person saying "E4 to E8", "G7 takes G9", and "checkmate black", varying only in the coordinates and the side color. Unlike the play by play, which can become an annoyance, the musical score, consisting of classical pieces (From Beethoven's Fur Elise to Mozart's Piano Sonata) played through midi, adds a nice touch to the atmosphere of a chess game.
With its abundance of offerings Chessmaster is one of the best titles of its time. The opponents consist of 64 fictional human players and 30 masters, described by a little biography about themselves and their style of play. There is even an option to create your own opponent, deciding on his pieces bias, defense bias, etc. The opponents vary from beginners to experts. The Chessmaster himself is extremely hard and should provide a real challenge for any chess enthusiast and experts. The interface, although it can get crowded if all the windows are turned on, is intuitive. The game options includes clock for each move or each game, touching on/off, and even blindfold play, where you can't see the opponents move. Other noticeable useful options are Visual Thinking, which lets you see what the computer thinks what will happen 2-3 steps ahead. This can improve your game quickly as you discover tactics and openings. There are also hundreds of games to view, including classic games and games by Josh Waitzkin. The most noticeable feature, which is new to the Chessmaster series, is the ranking system. This feature lets you build up your reputation and ranking as you play tougher computer opponents, mimicking a career mode in a sports game.
The most important aspect of a chess game is undeniably the Computer AI. As mentioned earlier, Chessmaster 6000 presents you with 94 different opponents to play against, varying in intelligence, attack bias, draw bias, and so on. Each are also rated with a rating and a personality, which is carried out throughout the game very nicely. The opponents actually do play according to their style, protects the queen, overly defensive, etc. In a little time, you should be able to discover your level and challenge the harder players as you become better. The intelligent, yet realistic, Computer AI should keep most people enticed in this game for a long while.
While the large amount of options may turn off the people only mildly interested in chess, the extremely intelligent AI, the number of options and opponents, and the rating system will entice all the people that are looking for a great late 1990s chess game.