Steel Battalion: Line of Contact Impressions

We post our first look at the online-enabled follow-up to Capcom's monster mech game with the enormous controller.

Capcom's Steel Battalion made quite an impact on gamers when it was released in 2002. The game's massive 40-button controller made it one of the most, if not the most, tactilely immersive mech games ever made. But, although gamers had special cabinets to hold the controller and custom uniforms to wear as they played, Steel Battalion had a void that needed to be filled--namely, multiplayer. Fortunately Capcom is ready to fill that void with Steel Battalion: Line of Contact, an online-enabled follow-up to the original Steel Battalion that lets you take on other players via Xbox Live. We had a chance to try out the game when it was being beta-tested recently and we have some brief impressions today. A more in-depth look at the game will follow later this week.

You'll need to use a Steel Battalion controller to play the game, which basically means you'll need to own the first game. Line of Contact will also be a multiplayer-only experience and will not have any type of offline game, although you can play in system link mode over a LAN. You'll find two main modes in the game: campaign and free mission. Campaign is a Risk-like mode wherein you'll compete one-on-one or in two teams of five to overwhelm your opponent. Your goal is to reduce your opponent's battle power points to zero by destroying enemy aircraft and capturing your opponent's strongholds. To reach this goal you can participate in several different types of battles, which will reward you with battle points that will go toward your ultimate goal of domination. The road to victory can be made a bit easier with the special objectives. If you manage to complete them, they can help boost your battle power points while decreasing your opponent's points. If you win the battle, you'll be rewarded with some useful prizes you can use on your mech. Anyone looking for a less-stressful play experience can opt to play the free mission mode. You'll be able to put together a custom battle without the penalties you encounter in the campaign mode games.

Steel Battalion: Line of Contact's gameplay, while fundamentally the same as Steel Battalion's, is deeper this time out, and you'll find more mechs and customization options. You will have the option of using the newer models or the original mechs from the first game. Of course, the newer mechs in the game will sport some very slick new moves that will put older models at a disadvantage. In fact, you'll find that, in many respects, Steel Battalion: Line of Contact's combat offers a very different experience from its predecessor, aside from the obvious new elements introduced by human players.

We'll have more on Steel Battalion: Line of Contact later this week with an in-depth look at what the game has to offer.

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