Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor Review (Xbox 360)
Posted by Jim Cook, Jun 25, 2012 15:17
Kinect Required: This game requires roughly 6 to 10 feet of clear space, a normal Xbox 360 gamepad (ideally wireless), and the Kinect.
Those of you interested in Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor have likely heard two major things about it. The first is its premise, letting players serve as the main pilot for a Vertical Tank (’VT’) in America’s army, set in a dystopian future where technology has severely regressed. The other thing you might have heard is that not everyone has been able to get the game to work properly. This review is from the perspective of someone who not only got them to work right the vast majority of the time, but is also a very devoted fan of the giant robot/’mecha’ genre. In other words, I am this game’s ideal player... and even I was left with only enough enthusiasm to say “Eh, I guess it’s okay. I had some fun with it.” That is not sterling praise.
Before I could get started, a special manual was included in the press copy of Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor. It made note of special preparations needed for the play space, such as giving the game around 6 to 10 feet of open space, enough horizontal clearance to put my arms out wide to my sides, and make sure my legs could be clearly seen while seated; all easily done. Next, it began to teach me Kinect-based gestures for how to pilot the VT. This started out fine, with step one being to turn the engine on by reaching to my right knee, then pulling back. The next step was how to trigger the self-destruct sequence, which was the point where I threw the ’special manual’ away; I want something that will teach me how to win, not blow myself up!
Thankfully the in-game tutorial was much better. After a few semi-interactive cut scenes (shaking hands with one of my VT crew, for example), it put me inside the cockpit and showed that the game will unfold through a few broad methods. There would be the aforementioned cut scenes, plus a cockpit view where I would instruct the VT crew and handle tasks such as managing the engine, venting smoke, and so on. A viewport mode would be used for most of the piloting and cannon fire (both of which would be controlled with the gamepad), and I would also be able to stand up in order to climb out the VT’s hatch; this would be useful for scouting with binoculars, and some other related functions. That’s a lot to keep track of, but it seemed like an interesting challenge.
With the tutorial done, Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor saw fit to ship the VT and crew onto the shores of occupied New York, where the enemy had set up artillery, gun emplacements, minefields, a few opposing Vertical Tanks of its own, and otherwise set up ’Normandy with giant robots added to the mix.’ At first, it was brutally difficult. I couldn’t quite figure out what was expected of the player, and problems began to mount; artillery or mines would cripple a leg on the VT, crew would panic and try to climb out the top hatch to abandon the fight (this was stopped via Kinect controls, reaching up to haul him back inside and then punching some sense into him), and finally enemy infantry climbed that same hatch and shot me dead. Clearly the game wanted to play rough!
Rating: 0.0, votes: 0