Today folks we have probably one of the most complicated games I have come across in many a year - STEEL BATTALION HEAVY ARMOR - the latest release form CAPCOM and FROMSOFTWARE.
This a KINECT only game, and it does push the KINECT to new levels. Unfortunately, it’s far from exhilarating. In fact, it’s more frustrating than enjoyable.
I can see where the developers are coming from with this game. The previous two versions of this franchise involved the player spending £130 on dashboard type controller, with 40 different buttons and levers on it, so to progress to the KINECT is a good idea, it’s just that it doesn`t work very well.
The use of controller for moving and firing, and the KINECT for all the other levers and movement is a great idea; unfortunately it just makes for a frustrating experience.
The graphics are brilliant, very realistic. The problem is you’re too busy waving your arms around trying to get either the right lever pulled, or console your team-mate, to enjoy the action.
You have so many things to do, the KINECT can`t keep up with all the arm waving.
If STEEL BATTALION HEAVY ARMOR was a controller-only game I think it would be a winner because the action and graphics are great. Just all the messing about can turn a pleasurable experience into a nightmare.
The story is set in the near future where a global silicon-eating virus has destroyed all the world’s computers, leaving the Earth in a global war using good old fashioned “low tech”.
You’re the commander of a VT (vertical tank) and after a brief training session, you’re sent into battle against a Korean superpower, which is a good story idea.
Now we come to the gameplay, which is very intense with bullets and rockets bouncing off your VT and your crew mates shouting and panicking. It`s your job to steer and fire the weapons whilst operating levers for speed, ventilation, radar etc which is great but very frustrating, especially when your crew-mate needs reassuring and you’re waving your arms around trying to get the viewpoint to change.
Then when you do eventually get to him you have to do something else - aarrrghhhh!
I can see that the developers are going for realism in this game as they did with the previous outings. It’s just that the KINECT can`t cope with it (will there ever be a real quality KINECT game).
You have to lean forward to view out the front visor, which is pretty basic as you would expect, but if you make any slight moves you’re suddenly thrown back into the cockpit, breaking your concentration.
With endless levers and things to do whilst being bombarded it can be boring after a while, because you never get to blow stuff up!
Targeting is a bit hit and miss, with enemies being so far away that it’s difficult to hit them.
Yet they have no problem hitting you, and some of the levels are downright odd. I mean waiting for an enemy VT to appear so you can ambush it is one thing but actually doing it in real time is just downright boring.
It took nearly five minutes of waiting, and for what? To simply blow it up and then that’s it! Level over.
Most of the levels are very frustrating and ridiculously difficult, and drive you to wanting to stomp on your KINECT, and chuck your controller out of the window.
Not since the days of STAR WARS KINECT have I had such a frustrating time playing a game.
Well I suppose you have guessed by now that this is going to be known as one the worst KINECT game made so far, which is a real shame because I think the developers deserve credit for having a go at trying to make the KINECT more interactive. OK it probably worked fine in their testing studio but not in my living room.
The ideas are there, they simply don`t work. It’s overly complex and difficult and will frustrate even the most hard-core gamer.
I give STEEL BATTALION HEAVY ARMOR 5 out of 10 because I still think the KINECT has potential, and developers should take a leaf from developers like FROMSOFTWARE, and try to push the boundaries.
OK as with this it doesn`t work, but at least they had the foresight to give it a go, and I am sure it will lead to better games in the future.
Steel battalion: Heavy armor
Release date: 22nd June 2012
Review by Dayvid Ryan