War is Hell...especially when it involves Kinect...
Posted 10 months ago By Pogo - Skyler Edgar
We are always told how war is a living Hell, and to this day lots of games try delivering a top notch experience with the "Hell" factor. With that being said, the aforementioned "Hell" factor has been certainly put into place in Steel Battalion, but not in the way you might think. This game puts the player in a first person perspective where you play a tank operator, or at least what looks like a tank operator. Your objective is to complete missions based on destroying targets or killing mass amounts of enemies using the combination of Kinect and a controller.
Steel Battalion takes place a few decades ahead of our time, roughly around the 2080’s, but don’t think that anyone would call this game as futuristic as any previous futuristic shooter. It seems due to a silicon-eating virus, which started in the 2020’s, computers have been somewhat extinct for the last 60 years or so. With that in mind, you are set in an incredibly confined tank (called VT’s or Vertical Tanks) with 3 other soldiers as you are brought through multiple boring, and forgettable missions. Even though the game itself features some stunning graphics and realistically textured terrain and machines, you won’t feel like you are playing a futuristic shooter when you are crammed in a walking tank. The general vibe of the game doesn’t put you in the “future feeling” either as a lot of the visuals seem overly dark and shadowy, like you were playing back in the early-mid 1900’s. The gunshots and explosions have their moments where you could actually feel as if you were in a war zone given the right scenario, but the voice actors and repetitive walking tank noises end up giving you headaches instead.
"...Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor is a great game when Kinect decides to obey to your actions, but when there are simply too many switches, levers, and buttons in the game for Kinect to decipher what you are actually wanting to do, it just makes the experience extremely aggravating."
Basically, the controller acts as movement and your main guns, while the Kinect controls movement speed, different scopes, type of ammo and so on. Now, when you are on the battlefield, you really have to assess what’s going on and remember what to use during the right time. Even with a great memory, I constantly found myself trying to use a certain lever, only for Kinect to think that I wanted to use a different button, which made this game overly frustrating. A fine example is when I wanted to vent out the air inside the tank after being shot, but as I went to do it, I may have pressed 5 different buttons and levers before I got the motion controls to do the thing I actually wanted to do. I’d like to put in an excuse where the lighting in my room may have been off, which would have made the Kinect difficult to track my movements, but even in a well-lit room, I ran into many obstacles with this game simply due to the many different Kinect controls options, and its inability to differentiate between them. This is the "Hell" I referred to at the beginning of my review.
Despite the controls being sub-par, I actually was going into this game expecting the same thing about the gameplay. Once you have everything together, and Kinect is deciding to play nice and obey your movements, it can be an enjoyable game. You use your main cannon to blow up any bunkers, or massive amounts of units while using your automatic mounted machine gun to spray down single units. There are other parts where you must fist-bump an ally (which I should add did NOT work for me even though I was essentially air-punching the nothingness in my space), or crawl to defuse a bomb, but I almost felt that this game would have benefit much more from axing the motion part altogether. This is one of those instances where I can clearly state that Kinect didn’t do this game justice. At all.
As I touched on from earlier, the missions in the game are very dull and un-exciting as well. With sometimes no clear objective and no markers or waypoints to point the player in the right direction, some players may seem lost or confused on what to do. Eventually every now and then you will hear someone on the intercom within the game telling you which way to go, but even that can be misleading as you walk into a minefield and blow yourself up. You go from destroying bunkers, to defending troops, to destroying a few antennas, depending on the mission. A couple of them were intense when you have tons of shells and bullets flying at you and your only option is to blow the living hell out of everything you see, but to sum it all up, the experience was severely disappointing and forgetful especially with the difficult Kinect set-up.
To summarize my pain, Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor is a great game when Kinect decides to obey to your actions, but when there are simply too many switches, levers, and buttons in the game for Kinect to decipher what you are actually wanting to do, it just makes the experience extremely aggravating. With a typical war storyline, objectives similar to that seen in many other games (eg. We must take out X using Y to get to Z), and decent graphics all tied with iffy controls and a few boring missions, it makes me ask what this game would have been without the "seem to be everlasting with no reason whatsoever" motion controls.
+ Graphics complement the mood
- Boring and forgetful missions
- No markers or waypoints for certain objectives
- Storyline very uninteresting due to unbelievable facts
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Release Date : 2012/06/19
System : Xbox 360
Publisher : Capcom
Developer : From Software
Category : Action
ESRB : M
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