GAME NAME: Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor
DEVELOPER(S): From Software
PLATFORM(S): Xbox 360
RELEASE DATE(S): 22 June 2012
Picture a game that is comprised of military based vehicular combat, cockpit driven Vertical Tank battles and swift, precise motion controls. Sounds like a pretty awesome game right? If only. Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor is based on a brilliant principle however this Kinect-based title fails dismally in its execution.
You take on the role of Sergeant Winfield Powers, a military veteran and one of the most experienced Vertical Tank operators available. Sergeant Powers and his team are tasked with bringing down ‘Uncle’, which is basically an oriental United Nations run by mad scientists with a vendetta against America.
Your analog sticks and trigger buttons are the only inputs used on your controller while the rest of your actions are performed with hand motions, predominantly from a seated position. Occasionally you will need to stand up to look around outside your tank for various reasons, mainly to remind yourself just how frustrating the motion controls really are. The in-tank motion controls consist of you frantically swiping and pulling levers which more often than not don’t respond in the way you intended.
Your vehicle is tediously slow, which forces you to spam the run action – more often than not at the expense of your shooting accuracy. This ultimately makes you a ridiculously easy target for your enemies which have the AI and battle mentality of anything ranging from a beached whale to a Gummy Bear on acid. Trial and error is beyond an understatement which just adds to the already frustrating control scheme. Deep into the game you eventually manage to (on occasion) ‘master’ the motion controls however there is so much to do in order to manage your tank that dodging an enemy attack becomes an afterthought rather than an initial instinct of survival.
The difficulty doesn’t steadily progress as you would expect from any rational game. You will find that one mission is ridiculously basic while the next is nearly impossible to complete unless you are willing to try time after time and endure what seems like unless aggravation. The level map, while at times a little unclear, is your saving grace as the mission objectives are often pathetically vague. Even so chances are good you’ll have to simply memories the layout and venture forth hoping that you end up in the right place at the right time.
The visuals in Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor aren’t horrible but at the same time they do feel dated by current standards and don’t do much to add to the atmosphere. The voice acting is average at best and some of the characters seem to be added purely to irritate the hell out of you. The overall experience is sluggish, frustrating and not worth a first playthrough, let alone a second. All this is a pity as the concept behind the game is really solid. The practical application is poorly planned and even more poorly executed. This title will leave traditional gamers frustrated and recreational gamers stumped. All in all Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor is a horrendous experience.