TGS 2011: Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor Impressions

From Software takes Kinect and controller, combines them, and lets us see how the next Steel Battalion game incorporates the two.

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Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor
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Among the crowd of highly anticipated Kinect-enabled games expected within the next year or so is Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor published by Capcom and developed by From Software. The follow-up to the cult-classic Steel Battalion is one of the few games that uses both a controller and the Kinect's motion-tracking abilities. At the Tokyo Game Show, we had the opportunity to sit down with a couple of members of the team and see the game in action.

There is a lot to interact with inside your vertical tank.
There is a lot to interact with inside your vertical tank.

Heavy Armor takes places in the 2080s. After a parasite in 2020 destroys practically all technology, the world is essentially thrown back in time. Amid this de-evolution, an Asian superpower emerges and manages to rule almost the entire world. Most of all, it has invaded the United States, and what is left of the US military must now take back what was once theirs. In the game, you'll control American soldier Powers and his team as they control various vertical tanks and hopefully reclaim the United States.

Steel Battalion's take on both Kinect and regular controller controls is quite interesting. You play from a first-person perspective, and with the Kinect you can interact with all aspects while inside the cockpit of your VT. Among the features available, you'll be able to start your engine, control throttle, change firing options, and even interact with the other members of your crew. You'll have a missile operator to one side, a navigator to the left, and even an engineer behind you. Each one of them is interactive, and with simple gestures either left or right, you can switch your viewpoint and examine what they are doing at that particular moment.

Where the controller comes in is in the nitty-gritty battle aspects. You'll use the controller to fire your machine guns and use missiles. As well, all VT movements are done with the controller. Although we didn't actually play, adjusting and swapping from controller to Kinect seemed fairly simple. Chances are that some familiarity will be required to adapt to quickly changing from one to the other, but it doesn't seem like it would take very long to adjust.

Your team is a very important aspect of the game. Powers cannot do everything on his own, and he will need the assistance of his crew to succeed. This teamwork plays an important part since your squad may or may not survive without some tough love from Powers. In our demonstration, one of the crew members started to doubt success and attempted to flee the VT. In this situation, he needed to be grabbed from jumping out and given a few slaps to calm him down. If he couldn't be stopped from escaping, not only would he probably die amid the gunfire, but the success of the mission could very well come into question.

The battle is very close to home, but it won't be exclusively in the United States.
The battle is very close to home, but it won't be exclusively in the United States.
Our time with Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor was brief. The 30-minute presentation went by quickly, and we were given only a tiny morsel of what the guys at From Software hope to deliver with the game. Expect to see and read more, since it should hit store shelves exclusively for the Xbox 360 sometime in 2012.

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