System Requirements OS: Windows 98, ME, 2000, XP CPU: 233mhz AMD/Intel processor RAM: 32 MB VIDEO: 3D acceleration is optional SOUND: 16 bit compatible sound card Ages: Everyone

Fritz 8 has so much to offer for beginner and advanced chess players alike. There is so much in this game that I\'m afraid I am just scratching the surface on what it offers. I can see why they are up to version 8! There are two CDs, the first CD is for installing the software and the second has music and chatter. Yes the Fritz engine does taunt you! There are funny phrases like \'If you like my checks, you\'ll love my mates!\'. Prepare to be taunted and beaten pretty badly. Fortunately you get some guidance.

Game Engine

There are a few chess engines you can use. The default is Fritz 8, but you can revert back to Fritz 5.32 if you want. There is also Comet B50 and Crafty 19.01. If you want to watch a show, you can have the computer play against itself. You can add a little spice and have different engines battle each other. You can even add engines into the game. (UCI files)

Game Types

There are a few game types to choose from. All of them are timed but fun! * Blitz-fast paced chess action with time bonuses, and you can allow more time for human opponents. * Long Games-Have a couple hours to burn? This game style is for you! * Rated Games-See how you score against the Fritz engine, no take backs and no help. It will give you an evaluation of your performance. * Handicap and Fun-Adjust the Fritz engine difficulty level and you can set the pieces it will use more. * Sparring-Fritz will be strong, but it will make some errors. Will you take advantage of them? You can have Fritz notify you...or not. * Friend-Fritz will adjust its level to yours. You can set a handicap, but Fritz will adjust to you.

Fritz keeps beating me, what can I do?

There is training available. There are some opening and end game training moves you can watch and use in your games. It\'s cool because you can scroll through and replay all your moves. There are many great analysis tools that are very useful. You can enable the Chess coach who will warn you if you make a really bad move. You then have the option to take it back (and get ridiculed by the computer). There is a spy mode which can show you Fritz\'s next move. Threatened Squares shows you which pieces are under attack. The squares light up red, yellow and green indicating how in danger and well defended they are. Help is available if you know where to look. (Help menu) Fritz will give you hints if you ask real nice. Or if a hint is asking too much, you can get a suggestion. The Threat option shows you an immediate threat.

Appropriate?

Other than the silly taunts this game is harmless.

Final Thoughts

The game pretty much runs off of the CD and doesn\'t require much hard drive space. It ran pretty stable, just make sure the CD is in before launching the game. It will prompt you if it\'s not in there. You can check the shut up box to play without the chatter. For movement you just need your mouse. The game board has 2D and 3D modes. There are different board styles like Wood, Marble and Balloon. You can play with pieces or just the symbols. The game also comes with a free 1 year membership to www.playchess.com where you can play people online! For anyone wanting to improve their chess game, I would highly recommend this game. It\'s fun for all ages and for anyone who likes games that make them think. The Fritz engine is what powers the computers\' playing moves and it\'s pretty darn good. With the various difficulty levels there is a lot of replay value. All this and more for $39.95.

Final Ratings

Graphics B+ Game Play A Sound B Interface B Stability A Offensive Content A

Overall 89% B+