When you start the demo for Steel Battalion Heavy Armor you might be a little frustrated, especially if you are tall. I had to sit a whole six to seven feet away from the Kinect just to recognize some of the gestures that you will need to execute during the game. Now if you have been playing video games for a long time you are used to your comfortable position of playing games, but Steel Battalion throws it right out the window. You are going to have to sit up almost straight up just so the Kinect can distinguish that you are in a seated position, but keep in mind that you will have to stand during the game too. Once you get past the whole set up you learn the simple, varied controls that involve the Kinect. For example, you will have to stand to open and close hatch. Use your right hand to look right inside the mech and start your mech. But also need your left hand to change gears and look left inside the mech. Also you’ll have to use some unique gestures to keep your time inline or when you are scoping in on your target during cut-scenes.
Thankfully, when it comes to the core gameplay, aka the mech fighting, this is where the controller takes over. You will be using your controller and almost forget the Kinect being there. You will be frustrated at times when having to use the Kinect when battling as there will be times you be switched from battle view to cockpit view even though you do not move. For now because it’s a demo version, we’ll chalk this up to being just a glitch. Also you will be in the heat of battle and you are going to have to use some gestures. During these gestures you are going to have to remember it is the Kinect and the object really isn’t there. Most people, like me, will try to do the gesture too quickly and the Kinect would not recognize the intended action. Alternatively, it would do it twice and interrupt the gameplay when you are in the heat of battle. Hopefully they can fix the detection in the Steel Battalion Heavy Armor so it feels more fluid during gameplay.On a very positive note, Steel Battalion Heavy Armor does look nice. It is not the most impressive graphics out there in the market right now, but then again it is a demo, so if they do buff out the graphics it will be a rather impressive looking game. There were some detection flaws, but again this is a demo so hopefully they resolve these issues. When it comes down to it, the gameplay is fun but with the addition of multiplayer to the mix it is going to make this title pretty interesting. After some digging, I have found that you will have a multiplayer side but also a co-op campaign. You will be awarded achievements with the co-op end of the game but when it comes to multiplayer, which seems like a point where it starts to get interesting.
This gameplay mode is going to be a squad based mech fight and gamersare going to find themselves pitted 4v4 in objective based warfare. Eurogamer recently spoke with Capcom producer Kenji Kataoka who stated, “Currently the multiplayer is up to four people, but in the next one we want to put four people per tank. At the moment you’ve got four people in one tank but you only control as the pilot. We want to left and right loader and sub-comm all to be real players. So you share a VT (vertical tank) among four people. And then we can make a game with co-op or we even want to do some versus.” Let’s be honest, are you going to want to play a $60 dollar game just to load guns? I know I am not going to want too. Maybe if we all controlled a gun and the pilot just piloted the VT, it might be worth playing multiplayer.
To sum it all up, Steel Battalion Heavy Armor looks to bring the functionally of the Kinect well into the game. Maybe if the Kinect was better on detecting movement it would flow better when in the heat of battle. But using the Kinect component during cut-scenes and though the gameplay is a refreshing change to this franchise that was not really made for motion-controlled mech warfare. Now that they have pushed away from the controller to the Kinect, we’re hoping to see some polishing to this title and hopefully end up being a title worth buying. We’ll find out when Steel Battalion Heavy Armor makes its way to the Xbox 360 exclusively June 19th.
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