reviews\ Jun 22, 2012 at 5:22 pm

Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor review


You know that saying, "Be careful what you wish for"? I have never felt that saying ring more true than with Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor. Ever since the release of the Kinect, I was begging for games that would utilize hybrid controls, and let you perform gestures through the Kinect, while still being controlled with a standard controller.

Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor, on paper, is a genius idea. A mech game that places you inside the cockpit, gives you complete control over it, allowing you to manually set various things such as mech speed, ammo type, and activating various switches such as vents, or even pulling down the periscope — all the while still be able to maneuver it with a standard controller. This was a dream come true to me.

Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor gameplay

That dream was shattered, however, when I first started the game. Even in the tutorial stage, things started to go wrong. While the mech itself was controlled just fine using the standard Xbox controller, it's the gestures that made it fall apart completely. We wanted to ensure that we were playing in completely acceptable conditions for the Kinect, so that it tracked us correctly and had enough lighting. When everything checked out just fine, it was only up to the game to see whether it would read our movements correctly.

It didn't. It is quite the list of what SB:HA detected wrong. When we stood up to look out of the Vertical Tanks cockpit, it would randomly sit us back down, even though we were standing up. If we wanted to scoot forward to look out the front window and actually see where we're going, the game would keep shoving us back to see all the controls, and then back again on the window, and again back to see the controls. This was happening without us even moving our hands at all; it was all happening on its own.

Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor gameplay

Venting out your cockpit due to smoke inside should be a fairly easy task, right? After all, you can see the switch right there, it's even slightly highlighted, giving you the impression that you can just reach out and pull it down. The reality of it is you first have to pull out a console to the right, then reach out to pull the vent down, and then scoot the console back to the left. While it doesn't seem like a big deal, even pulling out the console to the right can be glitchy, and it can take several tries just to pull it out, let alone pull the actual lever once it is out.

The game occasionally tasks you to perform a gesture during various events, such as extending your hand for a handshake, picking up a dropped item, crawl on the floor when under heavy fire, or even to pull a cowardly co-pilot back into the cockpit. These would be fine and immersive if the game actually responded to you doing these gestures. Many times the game would take a while until it registered that I did indeed extend my hand for a handshake, though thankfully, the game didn't register me holding my hand out to catch an apple that was previously pissed on. I guess that was a plus.

Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor gameplay

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About The Author
Mike Splechta GameZone's review copy hoarding D-bag extraordinaire! Follow me @MichaelSplechta
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