- Kinect Sensor Required
- Publisher: Capcom
- Developer: From Software
- ESRB Rating: “M" for Mature
- Genre: Shooter
- Pros: Cool concept
- Cons: Kinect controls don't always work; hard to see anything; frustrating mission design; it just isn't fun
Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor takes place in a future where a silicon eating virus has destroyed all of the computers and other technology in the world. War doesn't stop just because your iPhone doesn't work anymore, though, and instead battles are fought with hulking walking tanks called VTs. Despite taking place in 2082 or thereabouts, the VTs and everything else about the world you play in could just as easily take place in the 1940's. It is all very low tech and very analog and the aesthetic has a sort of Fallout feel (minus mutants and deathclaws) to it. The concept here is pretty neat.
One thing I have prided myself on with my Kinect coverage is that my setup is pretty much ideal. I have a long living room with great lighting, so I have plenty of room to move around and make sure Kinect works as well as possible. As such, the Kinect controls actually worked fairly well for us with Steel Battlion: HA, unlike some other reviewers that couldn't get the game to even function properly. Sure, they worked properly maybe 80% of the time and in the heat of battle everything pretty much fell apart completely, but we didn't seem to struggle with the Kinect controls as much as some folks have.
What posed more of a problem was the core design of the game itself. The camera view paired with muddy, ugly graphics means it is hard to actually see the enemies you're supposed to be fighting. And you can't really stop for very long to use the periscope to pinpoint enemies because you'll get destroyed very quickly. Pair that with a lot of trial and error as you try to figure out just what you're supposed to do and where you're supposed to go and you are in for a lot of frustration. The only real way to succeed is to just keep trying and dying until you memorize the placement of every enemy in a level. Even when you know where the enemies are, actually hitting them at range with only an iron sight is very difficult. Also, while the Kinect controls worked okay in training or before things really kicked up, in the heat of battle when you're supposed to be attacking, or trying to close the armor over your viewport, or vent smoke from the cockpit, or a million other things all at the same time all while your VT is getting rocked by enemy shells, trying to manage a controller and Kinect controls in a game this complicated was just a giant pain. The game is just bloody difficult to play.
Graphics & Sound
The final nail in Heavy Armor's coffin is that the presentation is pretty lackluster. The concept of playing in first person and having to look out of a small viewport is definitely cool, but the execution isn't up to the task. The graphics are generally dark and murky and it is hard to see anything out of your mailslot-sized port. Sitting 8-10 feet away from your TV and squinting to spot enemies in the mess of bad graphics isn't too fun. The sound is similarly disappointing, notable mostly for featuring a ton of swearing in the dialogue. At least the ping of shells hitting your VT is nice and loud and realistic.