Preview: Steel Battalion Heavy Armor

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

You know you’re in for something different when Kinect has you standing up, sitting down and stretching your arms out, all in a bid to correctly calibrate its sensor.


For: Xbox 360 Kinect
Developer: From Software
Publisher: Capcom
When? 22 June 2012

What’s it all about? Stomping across war-ravaged landscapes in bipedal tanks is only half the story in From Software’s follow up to the original Xbox games, as famous for their bespoke joystick as their punishing action. And like its predecessors, SBHA’s control scheme is a little bit special too.

You know you’re in for something different when Kinect has you standing up, sitting down and stretching your arms out, all in a bid to correctly calibrate its sensor for the carnage ahead. The game without doubt the most demanding and fully functional Kinect release we’ve yet seen, demanding as much of the peripheral as it does the player.

Arguably it’s the first ‘core’ gamer title for Kinect too, being at heart an action game in which gesture controls act as an extension of input rather than the extent – joypad and Kinect combining to offer a uniquely encompassing experience.

Before having even stepped into your walking death machine you’re introduced to your crew, shaking hands with one and catching an apple tossed by another. Rather then press a button to interact, you do so via Kinect, either extending your hand to shake or positioning it in the right direction to catch.

Of course, that’s small potatoes compared to how you pilot your walker, its cockpit full of buttons, levers and switches; all with their particular uses when the going gets tough and all utilised via gesture controls – daunting at first, but, as with learning to drive any vehicle, becoming second nature with practice (we hope).

You see during our hands-on with the game we died, and died badly, however rather than feeling discouraged we were left elated, convinced that practice – practice which we anticipate with a kind of giddy excitement – will prove the difference.

Indeed, having witnessed one of the official demonstrators putting the game through its paces we know that controlling the interior of the craft, while responding to incoming fire from outside, is an attainable goal.

With such focus on the never-before-seen depth of Kinect control, it’s easy to forget that first, this is still a MechWarrior-like first-person shooter – complete with control pad control – and second, there’s a host of opposing walking tanks out there, all only too happy to tear your steel armour into tiny pieces.

Apple catching tutorial over with, we were plunged straight into a beach landing level, at a point in the story in which US troops are attempting to take back New York from fortified Chinese armed forces.

Any effort to head straight up the beach was met with instant death, the area peppered with enough mines to tear a sizable chunk in the planet. To the right we went then, cranking our walker into sprint mode and chugging through a cacophony of machinegun and rocket fire, eventually hooking up with a unit of friendly troops – not that they lasted very long.

The warzone is chaos personified and its capacity for instant death as real as we might imagine it is on a real battlefield – what else would you expect from the software house that brought us the magnificent but deadly Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls?

You see Heavy Armor at this stage in its development is tough. It’s tough because you must control both walker interior and warzone exterior, and it’s tough because your walker can lose crew, limbs and even have it’s small windshield cracked, so obscuring your view still further.

The fact that it’s an experiment in Kinect controls adds a further twist still, the very set-up causing you to hit wrong buttons as your disembodied virtual hands flail around the cockpit. Something we hope further refinement of code (and player practice) will fix.

Worth the wait? Without a second’s hesitation: yes. To say we’re excited to experience Heavy Armor in the comfort of our own home is an understatement. Our only concern lies with its difficulty, as a new breed of control combines with a good, old fashioned challenge to create an experience perhaps too intense for most tastes.

If From Software can temper that challenge so that it slowly builds up the player for what lies ahead, then the studio will not only have another winner on their hands, but also the first must own Kinect title.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: IT Support Engineer

    £17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Microsoft Gold partner, our c...

    Ashdown Group: Sales Support - Buckinghamshire - £25,000

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Internal Sales Executive ...

    Ashdown Group: IT Analyst / Helpdesk - 2 Month Contract - £15ph - High Wycombe

    £15 per hour: Ashdown Group: IT Analyst / Helpdesk - 2 Month Contract - £15ph ...

    Recruitment Genius: Automation Test Analyst

    £35000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This group is the world's secon...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas