Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor
June 19, 2012
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The original Steel Battalion gained fame for its massive, 40-button controller, but in Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor, Capcom takes its giant robot sim series in the other direction, with Kinect-enabled gameplay for controller-free action. Set in 2082, when all of the world's semiconductors have been destroyed, players pilot massive, plodding robots known as Vertical Tanks through battles across the globe. Gamers can move and shoot with their Xbox 360 Controller, while ancillary actions, such as operating the scope and starting the engine, are performed with hand gestures.
VERTICAL TANK CONTROLS
Left Thumbstick = move vertical tank
Right Thumbstick = rotate the vertical tank/look up and down
Left Trigger = fire secondary armament
Right Trigger = fire main armament
Start Button = pause
A Button = confirm
B Button = cancel
Lift Hand = access various levers and buttons
Stand Up = exit cockpit via the hatch
Raise Hand To Face = use the binoculars
Slide Your Hand Sideways = look at your crew while inside the cockpit
Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor reinforces what many "core" gamers have suspected all along: the Kinect is fundamentally flawed, a device whose technology is not able to deliver the pinpoint accuracy a traditional action game requires. Sure, it is perfectly adequate for the less ambitious titles, a lineup that consists primarily of on-rails games and mini-game collections. These types of titles are designed to be forgiving, as developers take into account the Kinect's imprecise motion detection and input delays.
Heavy Armor does not stomp down the battered and beaten path of the many mini-game collections on Kinect. It is designed as a traditional game, using the peripheral to enhance the experience of piloting a vertical tank. The development team at From Software, best known for its Armored Core and Dark Souls franchises, has created a "serious" title that doesn't hold your hand or play the game for you. And it falters, miserably.
The game consists of multiple missions, spread across seven campaigns throughout a war between a ragtag group of American soldiers against a militarized United Nations. Each mission has you piloting a vertical tank along with a three-person crew. The vehicle feels cramped, like a submarine. It even has a periscope that you'll use to view enemy troops and vertical tanks from afar.
The Kinect is primarily used in the cockpit view, where you'll have to simulate pulling a lever to start the machine, use both hands to push toward the main viewport, and actually use the controller to move and shoot with your machine. The controller is the only part of the game that works exactly how it should. Unfortunately, you can't continue playing the game from this view, as you need to be closely monitoring your tank's fragile systems as you come under fire.
You'll need to grab and pull a lever to vent out smoke from inside your tank, tap buttons to switch between weapons, slide a cover over your viewport to stop bullets from entering, and much more. Alas, these actions are nearly impossible to execute in the time needed due to the dodgy motion detection. You will be attacked the moment you start each mission, and trying to figure out what you need to do to accomplish your objectives while fiddling and flailing away at the controls will drive you toward the brink of insanity.
Heavy Armor could have been a resounding success if the Kinect was responsive and as accurate as the developers thought it was. It clearly isn't, and while you'll adjust the lights, fiddle with the placement of your chair (this game actually requires you to sit and stand at various points), and try to reposition the Kinect itself, it's all for naught. Heavy Armor is weighed down significantly by its controls, which aren't functional in a game that requires split-second decision making and timing. It may be great for lighthearted activities, but for controlling heavy machinery in the thick of battle? No tanks. ~ All Game Guide