Microsoft Xbox 360
$59.99 (Kinect required)
ESRB rating: Mature
Review rating: 1.5 stars
Mech fans salivated over the original "Steel Battalion" because it was the first game that attempted a realistic simulation of piloting a gigantic lumbering metal monstrosity. Now a new version is available that requires the Kinect motion-sensing peripheral, but instead of making "Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor" innovative, sloppy Kinect controls send it to the trash bin instead!
I'm sure fans of the series were thrilled that they didn't have to pay hundreds of dollars for a dedicated controller to play the new version. The idea of using motion controls for actions such as operating the scope, shifting gears and lifting the hatch is brilliant. However, these controls simply don't do what they're supposed to most of the time! As a result, the game is so frustrating that I wanted to throw the controller at the screen, but there's no controller to throw.
Or is there? In an equally un-brilliant move, players are required to use the controller to move their Vertical Tank as well as fire the main weapons. This means I have to constantly switch between the controller and using motion controls, which not only forces me to balance the controller on my legs, but also confuses the Kinect sensor and makes it perform unintended functions.
To make matters worse, enemy VTs aren't hampered by the same broken control scheme (they are controlled by A.I. after all), so they have no problem quickly blasting players to kingdom come. Honestly, who wants to play a game where you get killed ten times before finishing the first level?
It's too bad that Kinect ruins this game because it has a cool visual style, great sound effects and likeable characters! Maybe a future patch will dedicate all control functions to the controller, but until then, only masochists will enjoy playing "Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor."