When the Xbox first came to power a team of developers, employed by Capcom set out to create a unique piece of software AND hardware to show what could be done. The result was 2002 ‘s Steel Battalion, with it’s crazy 2 stick, 3 pedal & 40 button controller to boot.
The game literally took you into the cockpit, under a “realism” of controlling a Vertical Tank (VT). Objectively, the missions were easy, simple, destroy the enemy. The hard part as you can tell was controlling the VT.
Limited sales and other factors saw the project just about break even and in 2004 an Xbox Live Only edition was created, Steel Battalion: Line Of Contact, using the same “controller” as the first release. Evenyually this was taken offline in the September of ’05.
Fast forward to present day.
Capcom and FromSoftware have utilised the Xbox Kinect and 360 to fire up, Steel Battalion: Heavy Armour. Thus meaning, instead of a chaotic peripherals, now you just have to wave a hand, pull a lever and you’re good to go… or are you?
The answer to that is no, the controls, as awesome as they are, take a good hour to get under-wraps by using the Kinect and Xbox controller at the same time. Thankfully the training exercise is a separate section on the main menu, so you can hone those skills which are vital if you wish to do well.
Following on from the brief history and current tech, its time to hit the story line.
Beginning in 2020 a silicon-eating microbe has destroyed all microprocessors, sending the world into miscommunicated madness. This enables the New United Nations (yes the UN have done a 360 as well) to gradually wreak chaos and tear the planet apart by raging war.
After many years of loss & suffering, we are brought forward to the Summer of 2082, a pinnacle year in which the tides begin to turn. Playing as Sgt. Powers (a cool name I know), a retired army veteran who piloted the VT’s for many bloody years, who has been called up.
Housed in a platoon of 30 brave men and women, Powers joins in on the fight to claim the American soil back and weaken the New United Nations. I wont spoil too much for you but you kinda get the whole war hero vibes picture. Many locations are used in the campaign, the first is New York, with a full amphibious attack on the occupied city.
Lastly Capcom have thrown in added Campaign Co-op missions to the mix via Xbox Live, earning endless upgrades for your VT, from camouflage to engine to armour (but why no matchmaking style play?)
Enemy soldiers are a bit rigid, but overall the game looks great, the lighting, tones and environmental colours drag you into the experience. In-game movement was, as I hoped, the Kinect did pull the wrong lever once or twice and loose track of my limbs. This may have just been myself shuffling around, but recalibration set it straight numerous times.
If you deem yourself an avid or hardcore gamer this game will test even your ability, with no difficulty setting to choose from other than ‘push on’ or ‘give up’. Branding it “Kinects first hardcore game” is not an understatement.
If like me you love the challenge go buy it today, if you’re uncertain you are up to it, rent it for even few days to see how you fare on the battlegrounds!
This game will divide opinion, mainly due to the way it is played with Kinect and it’s already been criticised by many. My rating is for the actual games story, layout, structure, use of different movements and general fresh look it brings using technology in the current gaming market. That and the fact you are IN A BIG WALKING TANK. Boys and their toys eh!
P.S. Before I go, please don’t let the whole platoon die. Lets just say “I told you so” if you do.
Release: 19th June USA, 20th June JAP, 21st June EU, 28th June AUS
Genre: Futuristic Combat Simulator
Platforms: Xbox 360 (Kinect needed)