previews\ Jun 1, 2002 at 8:00 pm

Steel Battalion - XB - Preview

E3 2002 - Hands-on Preview

Battle-mech games have now been around for quite some time and for the most part they've been enjoyable to play.  However, the typical control configurations, whether console or PC based, have never really done the games justice, considering the actual complexity of powering a mech - until now.  With Capcom's upcoming Xbox release, Steel Battalion, mech games will never again be the same.

The primary reason for this is the 40-button controller that will be bundled with the game.  This beast of a controller (at about 3 ft. wide) will have two joysticks, three foot pedals, a gear selector, and a huge variety of other buttons and toggle switches.  It's far from an average controller, and after using the prototype model at E3, I can say that this thing is going to be awesome.  Without a doubt though, the typical gamer may have trouble piloting their VT, or Vertical tank, with such a complex control device.  Although for the hardcore gamer it's a dream come true, since you actually feel like your in the cockpit of one of these awesome machines, which is partially because of the realistic first-person view.  Every attempt has been made to make this mech experience as real as possible, including the startup sequence that involves pressing the correct buttons and toggle switches and precisely the right time - simply amazing!

Obviously just having a nice controller doesn't automatically make Steel Battalion a good game (although it's close in this case), as it needs to play well too.  Not surprisingly, it both plays great and looks stunning.  In this game you'll get to participate in some serious futuristic warfare as a member of a multinational task force whose goal is to overthrow the government.  In doing so, there will be a total of 20 different mechs to use through the 12 action-packed levels, all with different characteristics.  Gamers will be able to use quite a few different weapons including rockets, machine guns, and more advanced plasma torches to take out the opposition forces.  The visual quality looks like it will be amazing overall as well.  Both the huge environments and the variety of objects within them are so far very nicely put together and the special effects of the weapons are very realistic.

As a result of this elaborate controller and the smooth gameplay due to the processing power of the Xbox, Steel Battalion may be the best mech experience ever available.  The price for this experience has not yet been determined, but don't expect this thing to be cheap.  Even so, for fans of mech warfare games it will be well worth every penny because it seems that it will simply blow everything else out of the water.  This game, which will be exclusive to the Xbox console, is due out in November 2002.

Check out these pictures of the prototype model:

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