There are plenty of mech games out there, from the Robotech and Gundam games to From Software’s own Armored Core. What separates the Steel Battalion series from all of those is the nearly Sim-like and more realistic take given in Steel Battalion. The original Steel Battalion game for the first Xbox came out ten years ago and cost $200 but, just a couple of years ago, you could go to almost any used game store in Los Angeles and find a copy with its huge 40 button, two control stick console for about 10 or 20 bucks. When the new Kinect-enabled Steel Battalion was announced, many wondered how simplified the control scheme would become.
Give the folks at From some props, they don’t make easy games, not even for the more casual game-oriented Kinect sensor. The Mature rated Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor has not been dumbed down at all. With that in mind, don’t think that you can get comfortable on your couch for a few hours of vertical tank warfare. While the movement and firing of your mech are operated by the controller, everything else is done using the Kinect. Unless your couch is unobstructed, well lit and fairly close to your sensor, this game won’t work for you. Most people will probably have to set up a small chair directly in front of the TV.
In Heavy Armor, players take on the role of Winfield Powers, a formerly retired vertical tank pilot. After losing his family to the U.N. invasion of the United States he’s decided to re-up. This is important because in Steel Battalion’s world, computer technology has almost all been eradicated. This means vertical tanks aren’t cool spaceship-like mechs, they are big hunks of machinery that require a full crew to handle all of the functions and systems by hand. As the pilot, Winfield more resembles Anakin Skywalker in his harrowing pod race on Tattooine than Tom Cruise in Top Gun.