Developed by From Software, Steel
Battalion: Heavy Armor is a Kinect game that tries to move away from the
repetitive mini-games and gives the seasoned gamer a more adult
orientated experience with this unique control system for the XBox 360.
Unfortunately as with most Kinect games, this title was tainted from the
conception which creates a rather mediocre gaming experience, especially
for the intended audience of this title. Frustration sums it up
The game itself is set in the distant
future (2080 A.D.) where mankind has been decimated and technology has
almost all been destroyed. As the pre-existing superpowers struggle for
control, players are inundated into the role of Sgt. Powers, a pilot of
a VT (Vertical Tank) who attempts to liberate his country from the
Chinese. Although the VT sounds a little boring... it's actually a Mech
opposed to a tank which gets extra points!
As you control these powerful machines, you
will soon find yourself engaged in a variety of skirmishes across the
globe and even though the AI is quite slow, the control system will
generally be the cause of your untimely death. As this game is a Kinect
only title, the player needs to perform a wide variety of manoeuvres and
gestures to control the VT.
This means the Kinect reads your upper body
to mimic what is happening in the game such as starting the engine of
the VT or using turrets to obliterate your enemies. For example by
moving your arm up, it will load the periscope and you navigate the
cockpit by swiping or moving levers. Inside your VT, you also have team
mates that once again uses the Kinect technology to interact.
Unfortunately what would have looked awesome on paper fails in the real
world which once again highlights the flaws of the Kinect system.
Controllerless games are unfortunately a myth and unless Microsoft
address these issues, I'm really hoping that the Kinect goes the way of
the dodo because no matter how hard the developers try, it just ends up
being clunky and unresponsive. Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor is
regrettably another one of those games.
Then you have the Kinect setup. If you
don't have the right environment setup in your home, the already clunky
experience can be severely hampered, especially if you have poor
lighting and opposed to controller rage, you'll be throwing your XBox
360 through your flat screen TV. The redeeming feature of the game is
sitting in front of your 360 and even though it also feels a little
funny, it's quite cool as you sit in front of your XBox 360 and
manipulate the cabin of the VT like Tom Cruise from Minority Report,
controlling all facets of this machinery. However, this becomes a tricky
prospect when things start to heat up because of the poor responsiveness
of the Kinect controls.
I swear that I had the perfect setup for Kinect, large room with vibrant
lighting but even so, as I was trying to control the VT's, things were
beginning to fall apart real fast. More so when the Kinect decides to do
the total opposite of what you tried to choose which increases the
frustration levels of the player tenfold. The first person shooter view
is far more superior, however once again it still suffers from the
clunkiness of the Kinect. Even when you're totally careful with how you
use your upper body to control the VT's, your perfect fun is generally
dashed by one small inconsistency.
As combat plays an integral part to Steel
Battalion: Heavy Armor and if the Kinect controls worked flawlessly,
this game would have been a blast as you fought your enemies. To make
matters worse, checkpoints between deaths are far too long which makes
it an effort to continue. Perhaps if the developers dumb downed the
controls or made it voice controls only, it would have been a far
superior game that what is the end result, especially with the good
graphics, musical score and the larger than life sound effects. I really
wanted to give this game chance but unfortunately it defeated me quite
early on which is a shame.