Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor – Review
Follow Genre: Mech, FPS
Developer: From Software
Publusher: CAPCOM
Platform: 360 (Kinect)

Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor – Review

Site Score
3.0
Good: Mechs and that's about it!
Bad: Only for people who are in for physical torture, Game simply does not work
User Score
2.3
(3 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 2.3/10 (3 votes cast)

Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor is an Xbox 360 exclusive created by CAPCOM and is the long awaited sequel to the original Steel Battalion. Like the first game, this one has it’s own unique way of controlling your mech aswell, namely by relying on the Xbox Kinect. Would this be one of the first games that will take the Kinect to the next level?

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Story:

The story of the game is basically World War II with a twist. Yet in this world America is on the losing side and is struggling to free the world and regain what was lost to them. Of course this isn’t all, instead of the Tanks we know, your character gets to control a VT (Vertical Tank). During the missions you will get to know the platoon around you (and if you get some of them killed you will surely get to know a lot more people in a shorter amount of time). The missions itself don’t really contribute that much to the story element but the scenes between missions tend to be the most important part of the actual story. As with most wargames you will pretty much see the story unfold the way you expect it.

I realise this might be the most vague description ever, but that’s what is thrown at you. For a game like this it’s not really a problem, but except for the implementation of the VT’s in a World War II theme it’s not really WOW either.

Note: The game tries to make you more attached to your platoon by presenting you with situations where you will need to ‘celebrate’, rescue or even discipline your fellow soldiers. An appreciated gesture in my opinion.

Graphics:

Combining modern robots with a World War II theme is not the easiest task at hand but the game does a good job at it. Your Vertical Tank (VT) looks as if it was actually made over fifty years ago and this really sets the mood for the game. All the gadgets inside the VT look old school and it’s amusing to see a robot of this caliber is actually controlled by four soldiers. The view through your small window makes you feel like you’re actually inside a cramped area. Your ‘crew’ looks detailed and has no problem in showing their emotions, the only downside is that the way their mouths move while talking is like puppets from the Thunderbirds.

The environments look fairly well detailed, and it’s fun to look around (at a calm moment) with your binoculars. Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor succeeded in setting the right mood graphically.

Sound:

When playing the game I hardly noticed background music, which can be good or bad in this kind of game. Personally it did not bother me, but this might be my own opinion on the matter. The sfx were as they should be. The dialogues on the other hand were also a good contribution to the whole theme. Your fellow soldiers tend to use more swearing words per sentence as regular ones. They ‘interact with each other and stress or celebrate in the right situations. When it comes to the sound, yet another decent job.

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Gameplay:

So far so good right? Wrong! Now the most important part of the game is what ruins the game. Like the first Steel Battalion with the special gigantic controller, the game was aiming for a special way of controlling your Vertical Tank aswell, namely the Kinect. If you’re already sceptic after reading that phrase: you should be.
The only controls you actually do with the controller are moving around with the VT, looking around and firing your weapons and these work as they should work. All the other functions like: using the periscope, closing the shutter, changing ammo (in desperate situations!), opening the cockpit, etc… is done with the Kinect. The idea of using the Kinect is a great idea but a poorly executed one. Let’s elaborate on that matter.
The panels and/or buttons are too close to each other that you will constantly perform the wrong action. When you aren’t fighting an enemy or aren’t being shot at it’s not that big of a deal, you can just take your time and keep on trying (and believe me you will grab on to or push the wrong things a lot) till you perform the right action. During combat – where you will be for the biggest part of the game –  having to do things quickly you will do wrong things even more often and then the game will give you no time to correct them and it will result in the destruction of your VT almost every single time.

The tutorial level shows you how ‘everything’ works when it comes to controlling your Vertical Tank, but only several missions later you get encounters where you have no clue on what to do or how to do them. The game sometimes helps you with showing a ‘hand’ signal in the right corner of the screen indicating a Kinect action. Yet half of the time you still have no clue on what the right gesture is, for example sometimes when you have to pull something out of something you might assume it’s a simple ‘pulling’ motion. … If it were so simple… Personally I’m glad I played the game alone most of the time so that people could not see me perform the most awkward motions ever, simply hoping the game would respond to something. The kinect controls learned me one of the popular phenomena of the last few years, namely the ‘rage-quit’. If you’re someone who is really set to finish this game, you will have to take breaks very frequently just to prevent yourself from hurling your controller at the screen.

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Now the part that was actually a bit better. The fact your Vertical Tank felt really cluncky, strong yet fragile was quite enjoyable. The window you look through can be broken and you have to make sure they can’t fire inside then. This will add a bit to the strategic part of the game. This part gets ruined again by the Kinect controls, half of the time you won’t be able to shut your window in time or will just do random stuff you aren’t supposed to. Also the fact your VT can only take a few good hits from another VT or RPG soldier combined with the horrible (and awful) controls will make sure you will have to do every mission around 20 times, which will of course stretch out the gameplay time.

The game also offers you a co-op mode in which you can choose missions to play with up to 4 Vertical Tanks. A small way to make up for a lot of gigantic flaws, the only comfort in the co-op mode is that 1-3 other players are getting frustrated together with you.

After all the rage from above it’s at least a comfort that the game succeeds in providing us with the most common things we expect in a game like this. The waypoint marker, the basic information inside your mech (ammo, broken parts, etc) and so on. These basic items will still make it a hard task at hand to complete the game or even want to complete the game. If you’re a die hard fan you’ve got your work cut out for you.

Note: There’s also a Vertical Tank customization, which pretty much speaks for itself.

 

Note: normally when taking the average of the scores the game would have gotten a 5/10 score – I accounted the gameplay more for this game because if you can’t really play it, you can’t enjoy the other aspects either.

Conclusion:

Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor, a game filled with nice ideas but with a poor way to make them work. Only a game for true fans of the first game, or simply fans of the genre of mech games. It’s a shame a game like this has to end up this way.

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Rating: 2.3/10 (3 votes cast)
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Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor - Review, 2.3 out of 10 based on 3 ratings

1 Comment

  1. […] decent game that gave the fans what they were hoping for. In the end it was only good for knocking Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor of it’s throne of crappiest kinect game I played so far. Kudos I […]

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