Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor – Review

view gallery VIEW GALLERY


Ambitious but ultimately flawed, the wait for the first great Kinect game continues.

In a war-torn world where dilapidated superpowers, China and the US, vie for control of the planet’s dwindling supplies of silicon it seems rather ironic that you need so many silicon chips to play it in the first place, with Xbox 360, Kinect and control pad all required (not to mention your TV).

Of course Steel Battalion was originally as famed for its bundled mammoth control console; so how do you take a series previously bundled with its own 40 button controller and replicate the experience for a peripheral that has none? The answer: by going against the Xbox 360 Kinect’s mantra of ‘You are the controller’ by making ‘you’ a part of the control system, in conjunction with the usual buttons of the control pad.

In theory it’s a spectacular compromise, with Steel Battalion’s walking “vertical tanks” (VTs) manoeuvred via the pad’s analogue sticks, but their more nuanced functions – ammo selection, ventilation, gear changes, periscope raising, etc. – all achievable solely through gestures tracked by Kinect and translated directly into the onscreen combat.

It sounds stunning, the perfect harmony of control to surely draw the player into a uniquely interactive world and, upon occasion, it truly is. Problems however detract at every turn, and it’s these which plunge Heavy Armor from must buy territory into sideshow.

It’s interesting actually that developer, From Software, decided to display a representation of you as seen by Kinect in the top-right of the screen. With my set-up, and it’s a set-up which seems to handle other less demanding Kinect games fine, you can instantly see the problem: Kinect thinks I’m constantly moving, even when I’m stock still. It might only be fractions but it’s constant, the line Kinect draws between traceable points across my avatar constantly juddering and therefore destroying any chance of accurately interacting with the levers and buttons of my virtual cockpit.

Technology, software or locality issue? I’ve no idea, but I’d be very interested to learn how other brave first-day purchasers got on within the confines of their own VT – Kinect set-up tricks and tips appreciated.

Next is the issue of difficulty. From Software’s Dark Souls might be bringing difficulty back (in the style the Justin Timberlake brought back sexy) but where deaths in Dark Souls felt like a harsh but fair learning curve, here they’re simply frustrating.

Not being able to select “Heat” ammo due to control issues, and so being subjected to easily avoidable death (again) just isn’t cricket, especially when it means restarting the current mission from scratch. It’s a real shame as Heavy Armor provides one of the most unique Kinect experiences out there and but for a couple of easily avoidable design issues, and increased Kinect stability (if that’s even possible), could (and probably would) have been a classic.

Missions can be a tad random too with odd amounts of waiting around before the bad guys show-up (slightly reminiscent of how in X-Wing say, you sometimes had to patrol friendly craft for 5 minutes before the Empire’s lot turned up). Personally I like the sense of reality that such development decisions provide but a many will be perplexed.

Elsewhere, there’s no denying that managing your cockpit before peering through your small window into the outside world as you exchange fire with a rival VT is brilliant when all works well. Go to change ammo types (a simple cockpit button push) though and suddenly you’re brought back to earth with a bang, as rather than selecting high speed you find yourself dragging the video monitor out from its berth.

Other ambitious turns – the addition of four-player co-op on specific missions – is even more cause to feel disappointment as once more the game vies for greatness but, sadly, it just isn’t enough to get over the fact that at times the game is unplayable.

Can patches overcome such issues, or software updates? I hope so, but for now all I can do is review what's in front of me and, as it stands, Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor for all its potential brilliance is ultimately broken.

Score: 2/5

Format: Xbox 360 Kinect
Price: £49.99
Developer: From Software
Publisher: Capcom

Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: Support and Development Engineer

    £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The leading provider of Employee Managem...

    Recruitment Genius: Creative Designer

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Kent based design consulta...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Gazetteer Consultant

    £25000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you looking to work for an ...

    Recruitment Genius: Regional Support Manager

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This role's responsibility also include operat...

    Day In a Page

    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
    Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

    'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

    Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
    Compton Cricket Club

    Compton Cricket Club

    Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
    London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

    Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

    'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

    It helps a winner keep on winning
    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'