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Ask nearly any Xbox 360 owner about Kinect, and most would
agree the hardware is a serious piece of technology that doesn't quite have
enough high quality releases outside of casual experiences such as DANCE
CENTRAL. Which is the primary reason why the announcement of From Software and
Capcom's sequel STEEL BATTALION: HEAVY ARMOR was met with such a high level of
anticipation and optimism. A game that provides serious first-person action
combined with a mech simulator is enough to drive anyone to purchase a Kinect
to propel the hardware into an entirely new degree of success. So, it’s a
relief to see at least the majority of these high standards met.
STEEL BATTALION: HEAVY ARMOR is set in 2082, a world where
Asian armies have begun showing their ferocity and military dominance in other
parts of the world causing massive global conflict. A silicon-eating
microorganism has made the advancement of computer technologies nearly
impossible, and wars are instead fought with enormous mechs known as Vertical
Tanks. You are a Vertical Tank pilot known as Lieutenant Powers, and you’re
about to receive missions that will take you across the globe. The focus will
be on various mission objectives such as freeing of the United States from
foreign forces in New York.
Combat in the game is similar to other first-person
shooters, but with a few major differences—the most obvious being that you're
spending the entirety of the game inside the Vertical Tank. This is where STEEL
BATTALION: HEAVY ARMOR begins stressing the lack of technology within your
vehicle. To aim and fire your weapons, you'll have to look outside through a
small rectangular window in front of you, where visual problems can arise if
the visor becomes damaged and cracked. To get a better scope of the area and
locate enemies at a distance, you can stand up and use binoculars on the
outside of your Vertical Tank; the environment feeling reminiscent of an old
film covering World War II.
The integration of the Kinect sensor controls mixed with the
use of a standard Xbox 360 controller will find you falling hard on the love it
or hate it side of STEEL BATTALION: HEAVY ARMOR. You use your standard Xbox 360
controller to move the Vertical Tank around and fire its weapons at enemies,
and these controls are tight and responsive despite your limited view. The
Kinect controls, meanwhile, require a short time to memorize each of the useful
commands you'll need to complete each mission. The game's mission objectives
will get increasingly difficult to almost a flaw, so you'll need to make sure
you are investing enough time in mastering STEEL BATTALION: HEAVY ARMOR’S
controls before progressing too far into the game, or you're not going to be
having fun for very long.
Primarily a single player experience, STEEL BATTALION: HEAVY
ARMOR hosts several missions throughout the game that allow team ups with other
players across Xbox LIVE. While cooperative play is certainly smooth, you'll
find playing alone even better thanks to a fantastic voiceover from your AI
teammates and a cool soundtrack that sets the right mood. The only aspect
better than the sound design, is the stunning visual presentation. It’s safe to
say that you will currently not find a better looking game for Xbox 360 Kinect.
The in-game menus are easy to navigate, and
you can always replay the game's tutorial if you're having trouble mastering
the complex control scheme.
While STELL BATTALION capitalizes on many great ideas, the
Kinect controls aren't perfected and its difficulty could be a turn off for
some gamers. Once you've put in enough time to handle your Vertical Tank under
stressful situations, however, you’ll come back time after time to enjoy the
great gameplay. There are few Kinect titles that are as completely entertaining
as this title, and none are as epic.
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