Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor review
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This is a shame because, like I said, the concept of SB:HA is great. Had all the Kinect functionality been... functional, it could have been an extremely immersive mech experience. Though the control problems are just a part of the issue. The missions themselves are extremely odd. The initial mission has you storming the beach, walking around a few mines, shooting two mechs and soldiers and mission accomplished. The mission after that is even shorter. It starts you off in your stationary mech along a bridge, where you have to stand up to look out. Then you just wait and watch as your co-pilots exchange some meaningless banter until the enemy starts firing at you. You're then tasked to walk about five yards with your mech, get out, crawl towards a detonation device, activate it and mission accomplished. Why are these missions so short?
You also have the ability to play with up to three others co-operatively online. I'd love to tell you about this experience but no matter how long I waited for others to connect to my game, I was in the lobby all by myself. Didn't matter much because I could still play those missions regardless with AI instead of real players. Thankfully, those missions are a little more involved and actually require you to scout an area, destroy certain structures and dispose of enemies.
As you go through the game, you get access to various unlockables/upgrades that you can outfit your Vertical Tank with. Even the inside of the cockpit can be fully customized, which is a neat touch considering you spend all of your time nested inside.
It's a crazy thought that the game went from having an extremely overcomplicated controller for the Xbox, to having make believe controls thanks to the Kinect, and sadly, I would have preferred the former. The other issue with Kinect controls is that the game lays on the difficulty as you progress, which means you then have to balance managing the inside of your mech, all while trying to control it with your controller. It's a frustrating experience that is made infinitely worse by the lack of response from the Kinect itself.
What SB:HA does right is its sound design. While I could do without the constant swearing from all of your cohorts, I understand that war is hell, so naturally people will be on edge, but where I think the game nails it are the sounds all around you. From the gunfire to explosions, it all sounds glorious even from inside your massive hulking tank on legs.
Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor could have been my dream game. It could have been the game that successfully brought on the marriage of an actual controller with full Kinect integration. The ambition behind the title was certainly huge, and I can't fault Capcom for that. However, with barely functional Kinect controls (tested out in various locations), Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor ends up being largely disappointing.