Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor preview

Steel Battalion was the rarest of specimens in its previous incarnation as a $200 Xbox exclusive with a 100+ button controller. It was the stuff of legend among gamers, as many talked about the game, but no one actually knew anyone who owned it. And now, the mech game is getting an update. At the very least, you can do a whole lot more with this new game’s peripheral than just driving a mech…

As you may notice from our TGS preview, Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor is an action game in which you control a giant mech. It uses the Kinect to manage its numerous controls. From the time we sat down for a look, we noticed a few very unique elements to it. It truly uses your entire body to drive the game. You’ll have to spread your arms while sitting to calibrate its controls, and with good reason, since you’ll be gesturing to control levers, use binoculars, and move into position within your cockpit. While it doesn’t have as many 1:1 gestures to buttons as the original, you’ll have plenty to do. You can also stand up to pop your head out of the tank and check out your surroundings, and where to attack.

Co-pilots have different roles in the tank, including navigation, resource management, and ammunition advice. You’ll need to protect them, as well. At times, enemies will invade your tank and attempt to kill the crew. You may have to fight back and rescue them. If someone on your crew dies, you’ll need to micromanage their task, in addition to yours. Capcom representatives mentioned that while you can get through the game with no co-pilots, it will be extremely difficult.

And we discovered that at times, you’ll need to leave the tank, as well, as we saw from an instance in which the hero had to leave the mech to rescue a downed teammate. And yes, you’ll have to stand up and gesture to pick up your wounded comrade and carry him back to the mech.

While replacing a multibutton behemoth controller with motion controls alleviates closet space, it seems like a great deal to micromanage, and we suspect the learning curve for this one will be quite steep. We’ll need to dive deeper before the game comes out on June 19, but for now, it’s something to keep an eye on. We'll likely be getting another look at Heavy Armor soon, so stay tuned for more details.

Sterling McGarvey