By mrbob9000 2 Comments
Steel Battalion was on the show floor show goers to play. I took two attempts to play the game. From a distance watching the other attendees struggle with the motion controls and the constant need to re-calibrate the game looked somewhat broken. Since this is on a public show room floor I have an extended amount of time to observe the players interaction with the game/kinect.
Steel Battalion takes place in North America where the "Datacide" has destroyed all modern computer technology and shattered the country. Due to the lack of computer's or other advanced technology the Mechs of steel Battalion are purely mechanical with the most advanced tech being a series of closed circuit cameras providing front/side/back views of the battlefield. Mechs are have three man crew (at least in this demo). The player is the captain/pilot while other crew carries out tasks like reloading and smoking.
Steel battalion is a Kinect/Controller Hybrid. The controller handles basic movement and shooting activities while the Kinect handles mech cockpit tasks and crew interactions. The majority of these tasks are Kinect based having the player reach out to a glowing handle then pulls, pushing, or slapping the control. Player can also stand up to open the top hatch of their mech to get a better view of the battlefield complete with motioning imaginary binoculars to your face.There are also quicktime like events where the player can fist bump or shake the hand of their crew members which kicks ass.
The demo was broken down into two sections that did not appear to be directly cut for a demo. The first section was a basic combat tutorial running the player on the how too's of blowing shit up with a technology deficient mech. The player is run through a series of tasks by a drill instructor yelling over the PA at your character. The second portion was a beach landing where your mech is storming a beach head along with infantry.
On my first time waiting in line players were struggling with constant need to be recalibrated and inability to use cockpit controls plagued some of the demos before mine. Steel Battalion has a unique way of calibrating and recalibrating. The game first asks the players to sit down with their arms pointing straight out to the sides then standing with arms out to the sides. (think jesus) These issues seemed to be related to the 70s style chairs that looked like the bottom of an egg that the Kinect could not distinguish from the player. Due to the long wait on apparent tech meltdown I walked away.
I returned the next morning with a shorter line and new chairs to play in. Players were still struggling with the Kinect portion of the game. This time it appeared to be player related. Common Kinect issues of miss detecting things that may not be your arms or not synchronizing due to quick jerking motions the sensor cannot detect. After coaching from the Capcom staff running the booth most players began getting further in the demo. One key piece of advice was to keep your hand on the controller in your lap when not interacting with Kinect. Anyone who enjoys flailing their arms playing games like in stock photos and choice CBS shows will probably not be able to play this game.
Once past the line and control issues I was finally able to get myself into the cockpit of the mech. The landing sequence starts off with you sitting viewing the entire cockpit with small window out to hard to identify world. Thrusting the controller forward and back brings the player to a view out the window. You can see the front of your landing craft now. The gate drops and you start to move the mech forward. The mech moves slowly and has the full up and down movement with each step.
Coming up the beach your first task is giving infantry cover as they take buildings on the beach. This is when you see your first enemy mech across the battlefield. Instinctively I shoot for the legs to demobilize it. It quickly goes down quickly and I move one looking for more shit to blow up. After shooting some APCs and infantry what appears to be a cannon shell hits me. I look around and see the mech I just downed shooting machine guns at my landing infantry, then another shell hits me. This motherfucker is still alive. It doesn’t appear to be able to turn its turret and my dumbass wandered into its line of fire. I move out of its cross hairs then finish it off.
At that moment I knew I will be looking into Steel Battalion regardless of any Kinect issues experience on the show floor. The attention to detail of the cockpit, the mech, and combat calls back to the stories of the original Steel battalions level of detail.