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: