'Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.'
(Ephesians 6:11. KJV)
From Software's recently released Steel Battalion: Heavy Armour has been received unfavourably by the mass majority of the 'gaming press', the only positive reviews were from the Microsoft endorsed Official Xbox Magazine and its American affiliate. Metacritic only consider one of these to actually be positive, but Metacritic opts to turn all review scores in to a percentage causing a contrast between the English publication which scores with whole numbers over the US publications fractional rankings.
The reading of some of these reviews does lead to more positive comments about game, but each positive review is followed by user comments aggressively unhappy with the idea that that someones opinion would differ from the majority. There is a disheartening amount of negativity not just from consumers but also employed journalists who have seem to taken the idea that the game is not what they want it to be as a personal attack on them. Brad Shoemaker's review highlights his own problem of not feeling connected to the game via the Kinect stating that it is unreliable.
It's frustrating enough to play a game that flat-out refuses to behave properly, but in Steel Battalion's life-or-death situations, it's absolutely unforgivable that you can't always do exactly what you want to do when you want to do it.
Brad Shoemaker June 19 2012
The question to ask here is should we be able would be able to do everything we want to do when we want to do it?
Whilst playing Steel Battalion: Heavy Armour you are placed in the role of pilot. A pilot who has a history of piloting the vertical tank. As a pilot you would not be flailing you hands around in an effort to use instruments, you would know which ones to use, and when to use them.
(The Kinect setup within my home is a simple one, problems only regularly occur between midday and five in the afternoon as the sun travels.) But the complications of playing with Kinect are not inevitable, it not a lack of technology but a lack of understanding the physical language between the user and the screen.
We are able to move within our world, forwards, backwards, side to side, around in a circle, jump and crouch. In fact the only movement we can not make is in to the world of the screen. The game screen is a window to a possibly endless number of worlds, but the closest we can come to experiencing these worlds is through the holding of a button, stick, or stylus based input device. Kinect has all the capabilities required to put a person in to these worlds, but not physically. As in all games the player is represented by an avatar (and as such a representation for both himself and the character) except the avatar can be the player. The players face is recognised, as is the colour of his clothes, the length of his hair and the shape of his waistline. The Kinect sees everything visible via its 3 cameras. The Kinect knows everything the player is doing, notices another person joining the player it even listens to the conversation that they have.
The Kinect is not capable of effecting the players world. It can not alter the natural light allowed in to the playing area, it can not move the player, it can not reposition itself in to another corner of the room.
The Kinect is simply a way to communicate with the software that the player is using. Like a control pad or a joy stick theKinect is reliant on the player knowing understanding the language of the software. If a player does not acknowledge that the 'A' button allows the games protagonist to jump, the control pad is not at fault for the players failure to make a jump to safety in the game which the player was playing. Likewise if a player does not physically jump or pose when required, it is not the fault of the Kinect that the player is not communicating with the software.
So is it the fault of the software? Not really.
The players ability to interact with the software and with the Kinect is dictated by the screen. This is always in two dimensions, it is closed window. You maybe able to see someone through a closed window, you can communicate by waving or shouting, they maybe able to follow commands that you give them, but that is the limit of your interactivity. You can not touch them you can not manipulate their environment other than through gestures. Of course they can not touch you, you can not feel each other. If you walk out of the sight of the window that person know you are there but is unable to show you they effect you commands have on them. Kinect is not capable of showing you what effect you have in a game if you are not in view of the screen.
The complaints levied against both Steel Battalion: Heavy Armour and Kinect come from an area that it does not cover, the Kinect was never intended to show you your behind, Steel Battalion: Heavy Armour was not intended to wipe your behind.
The game offers a great example of showing you exactly what the Kinect is capable of. Your view of the action whilst in the cockpit of the VT is small glass window, you place both hands towards your TV screen to get a closer look, as the pilot you are never able to physically touch the outside of the window whilst you simply make a gestures and issue commands, to walk and target and shoot via the the control pad in your hands. Unless focused the player can find themselves franticly moving hands and swinging their arms while trying to decide how to hold the control pad if at all whilst trying to get a peak out the small window.
Your Armour is directly in front of you, you peak through the visor but your behind (as well as your sides), are completely uncovered, leaving your squad mates as your only form of protection, when your alone you have no protection.
For Kinect to place the player fully in the world would require more screens, and even then the Kinect would simply be the visor in the armour.