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In 2002 Capcom released Steel Battalion for the Xbox, a mech game so complex it was bundled for $200 witha massive proprietary controller. It didn't sell particularly well,but Capcom didn't let that stop them from creating a sequel thatwill probably sell worse. By combining the Xbox 360 controller with Microsoft'smotion-sensing Kinect peripheral, Capcom has created a game that istechnically just as expensive as the original and less reliable toboot. Normally I wouldn't let a little thing like not being able toplay stop me from writing about a mech game in glowing terms, butshit.

That's all I've got. Shit. Let's see if the assembled video game reviewers did any better. Polygon It's impossible for me to begin to critique Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor 's level design, graphics, story, etc., because at its mostfundamental level, this product simply does not work and is theworst implementation of Kinect controls I've ever experienced.

Was I able to begin to form some opinions about the visuals, story,music and other non-Kinect facets of the game from the four hoursor so I played? Sure. But I didn't experience all or even most ofwhat the game had to offer and, as such, would be really reluctantto make any sweeping judgments about those elements. Besides, thecontrol problems I encountered were so pervasive, so detrimental,that I firmly believe there is no amount of visual, musical ornarrative mastery that could make this an experience I could in anyway recommend. IGN Woefully, Heavy Armor is, in practice, a nightmare in nearly all aspects. As we'veunfortunately come to expect from most Kinect titles, the motioncontrols are terrible.

If we so much as flinched on our couch, thegame asked us to re-calibrate the Kinect sensor, and in the heat ofbattle we had constant issues both at home and in the office withaccidentally closing the viewport hatch when we were trying tosimply look out the view panel. Why did we constantly have to keep doing that? Because, in what islikely an attempt to simulate the guttural force of having your VTget rocked by a missile, you'll be reset to the cockpit view everytime you're hit, meaning you'll have to scramble just to get backinto a viewing angle where you can counterattack before you'rekilled. Gamespot As you become more accustomed to your fickle machines (both theKinect and the VT), you can mitigate the control flaws. Elementsare highlighted when you reach for them (unless you've opted toremove such indicators), and as you play more, you get a bettersense of the virtual space in front of you.

But even with precisionand practice, you can never avoid every problem. Even if you'vesuccessfully performed an action dozens of times, it might not workthe next time. It's like you're an ornery mechanic who has somehowkept an old junker running for years after it should have beenscrapped, only instead of cathartically bashing things with yourfist when they don't work right, all you can do is flailimpotently. Joystiq Another frustration: selections become very "sticky" once HeavyArmor thinks you've made up your mind. So, after you've "grabbed"the handle on the viewport shutter, it's very hard to let gowithout closing it first.

On the other end of the spectrum,sometimes one gesture can be mistaken for another. For example,when I raise my hand to open the shutter I've accidentally closed,I might activate the periscope instead. Keep in mind that, forevery second lost to fumbling with some internal mechanism, your VTis being pummeled by computer-controlled enemies that are notequally encumbered. As you desperately flail, the enemy will killyou with no compunction, sending you back to the beginning of themission or one of Heavy Armor's few checkpoints. IncGamers Despite the problems, however, Heavy Armor is a very difficult game to hate.

The idea of piloting a bi-pedalmech by sitting on your couch and actually pulling this lever andshutting that hatch is extremely appealing, and the sense ofaccomplishment and joy at beating a single mission is greater thanany game I've played for some time. Other elements are decent, too. Despite the horrendously baddialogue, your crew of misfits and foul mouthed soldiers aregenuinely likeable. If one of them dies in a mission they are deadforever, you'll have to replace them with a newbie who can do theirjob but you'll miss out on the brotherly love you built up with thelast guy.

Official Xbox Magazine While we weren't surprised by Heavy Armor 's hardcore difficulty or having to get used to its controls, whatdid shock us is how the game creates an intense bond with oursquadmates. Plenty of war-focused games try to build a brotherhood,but in most cases, that involves shooting through waves of enemieswith light A.I. support spouting occasional witticisms. HeavyArmor, on the other hand, really builds up your attachment tofellow members of Bravo team by sticking your lively four-personcrew in a space no bigger than a port-a-potty, and making theirsurvival almost as much a priority as the rig's. If your missileloader is hit with a wayward bullet or your second-in-command isstabbed through a hole in the hull, it's more than just a temporaryinconvenience that requires you to pay more attention to the map oryour missile stockpile.

Seeing a teammate bleed to death next toyou, and then be absent for the rest of the extensive campaign,really drives home how tough the battle is and makes you want tokeep their replacement safe. Kotaku The best Kinect games so far have mined the cognitive dissonanceinherent to controlling games with the Xbox 360's motion-sensingperipheral. With The Gunstringer , it was turning your gestures into the vengeance of abad-tempered, undead cowboy puppet. And in Child of Eden , your swipes, pushes and claps opened up a beautiful,hallucinatory mindscape that grew ever more trippy and lush. Thosegames took the silliness of standing in front of a fancy camera andwaving your hands to play a game and made you feel either ornery orawash in sensation.

Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor takes that silliness and makes the player feel like the butt of ajoke. No one gets a medal for delivering that kind of game. Down periscope.
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