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Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor review on Xbox 360

Hardcore mech game's attractions are overshadowed by a broken control system
Mon Jun 25 2012, 16:53
Steel Battalion battle

GAME DEVELOPER Capcom unveiled its latest entry in the cult classic Steel Battalion series over a year ago, claiming it would be the first ever "hardcore Kinect" game.

In keeping with its hardcore branding, Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor goes down the tried and tested mech route seen in similar franchises like Mech Warrior and Armoured Core, but with the addition of Kinect motion controls.

Sadly, while we have to praise Capcom for doing something different by boldly choosing to try to make a true hardcore Kinect game, the controls are the game's biggest drawback.

This is particularly disappointing as on paper the control system sounds great. The entirety of Heavy Armor is played from a first person perspective, with you mainly sitting in the cockpit of your VT - a big-ass, two-legged, tank-like robot.

Steel Battalion cockpit

From this view the Heavy Armor control system tasks you to pilot the VT as if you were actually in it using a mix of motion controls and the Xbox 360 standard controller.

The Xbox controller is only used to steer the VT and fire its main cannon and machine gun, everything else ranging from hitting the ignition key to starting the VT's engine to pulling down the periscope to get a better view is done using motion controls - requiring you to pretend you're in the cockpit and move accordingly.

On paper this is great and the problem isn't complexity. A great tutorial at the start of the game ensures that you know what each lever and button does and for those with shorter attention spans, the game even has a "guide" mode that highlights which lever you need to press or interact with to complete the task at hand.

These tasks can include everything from laying down suppressing artillery fire with your VT's cannon to storming an enemy beach - all of which should be very fun.

Steel Battalion first person view

The problem is that the motion controls are, for lack of a better word, broken. Playing the game you will often find yourself repeating commands over and over again, flailing your arms at the correct lever hoping that Kinect will recognise the motions. This, while great for your weekly cardio, becomes a real annoyance in game, one that is not helped by Heavy Armor's high difficulty level.

Heavy Armor is without a doubt a hardcore game. The difficulty level is harsh, with your AV moving incredibly slowly and only being able to survive a few direct artillery hits. While we're fans of hardcore games that require a dash of skill to play, the broken control system serves to make the difficulty feel cheap - often it won't be a lack of knowledge about what to do but an inability to get the game to recognise your command that will lead to your death.

 

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