Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor


VideoNew Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor footage rolls out

Kinect-powered tank title coming in June.

VideoSteel Battalion: Heavy Armor gameplay

Behind the furnace of Capcom's Kinect-only sequel.

Key events

Why From Software's worst game is worth learning from

And how Steel Battalion was the ultimate Kinect game, for better and for worse.

Heavy Armor might be the perfect Kinect game, or at least, the most honest, because it reveals how interesting life can be when technology gets in your way. Green-lighted way back when Kinect was known as Project Natal, the game posits a near-future in which a silicon-guzzling microbe has devoured every computer on the planet, setting back the science of combat to roundabouts the close of the first world war. Deprived of GPS, drones and other decadent trappings of 21st century warfare, the Earth's nations are obliged to duke it out in gas-powered mechs or "vertical tanks" that handle as elegantly as elephants in high heels.

Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor Review

The great thing about buttons - whether they're on your doorbell, mobile phone, game controller or even plastered all over an elaborate mech-simulation peripheral that comes with its own Allen key - is that when you push them into the recess and feel that satisfying click as the contact hits the mark, you can be around 99.99 per cent sure that your action will have the desired result. It's a principle that gaming has embraced since its earliest days.

So the rise of motion controls in casual gaming presents developers with a dilemma. On the few occasions that the semaphore lessons have been shoehorned into a more weighty title, the results have been average at best - Zelda: Skyward Sword notwithstanding. So when Capcom announced that Dark Souls developer From Software was going to make a Kinect-based follow-up to the hardcore mech simulator Steel Battalion, we were naturally apprehensive.

On paper, it seems logical. Ditch the gear lever, double joysticks and three pedals that made the original feel like a driving test from the year 2100, and in their place give the player some on-screen buttons and levers that they can manipulate with hovering appendages. You start by using your right arm to crank the VT (Vertical Tank) to life. Then, by using your outstretched hands to grab onto the handholds below the viewing hatch, you can pull yourself closer to get a forward-facing view. It's then a case of looking and moving with the dual analogue sticks on your regular controller.

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Dark Souls dev's Kinect exclusive Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor is rock hard, Capcom warns

Dark Souls dev's Kinect exclusive Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor is rock hard, Capcom warns

"Capcom and From Software? Seriously, what do you expect?"

Kinect exclusive Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor is rock hard, Capcom has warned.

Heavy Armour is made by Japanese developer From Software, known for one of the hardest games around: Dark Souls. Capcom, which oversaw development, said it allowed From Software free reign to "go nuts". The result is a complex third-person mech game that drops players in at the deep end.

"Given From Software's stern craftsmanship, we didn't want to limit what they do, because that then gives us no advantage of working with From Software," producer Kenji Kataoka told Eurogamer. "If we don't let them do what they want to do, then we could have chosen any developer. But we had to use From Software. So we said, yes, go ahead and go all out. Go nuts. So they did."

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Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor live action film announced

Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor live action film announced

Ghost in the Shell director behind forthcoming short movie.

A live action short film based on forthcoming Xbox 360 mech battler Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor is currently in the works, publisher Capcom has announced.

Titled Steel Battalion Heavy Armor: Gosha, it's being directed by veteran Japanese filmmaker Mamoru Oshii whose past credits include anime classic Ghost in the Shell.

The film focuses on tank commander Gosha as she goes off to war.

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Control Nemesis in Xbox 360 exclusive Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City multiplayer mode

Control Nemesis in Xbox 360 exclusive Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City multiplayer mode

Plus: Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor release date announced.

The Xbox 360 version of Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City has an exclusive multiplayer mode.

Nemesis Mode, an Xbox 360 exclusive competitive multiplayer mode, sees the USS compete against the Spec Ops in an eight-player high score battle.

The twist is you're able to control Nemesis, the big, bulky bad guy from Resident Evil 3. To do so, track down the control unit, then order him about.

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Steel Battalion was more famed for its controller than it was for its detailed, if dry, take on mech combat. Its 40-button, three-part centrepiece came in at three times the size of the Xbox console itself; its heft and intricacy pushed the price of the game beyond the reach of many, ensuring its status as a coveted curio and the stuff of legend.

Xbox 360 sells 1.5 million in Japan

Xbox 360 sells 1.5 million in Japan

It's only taken six years.

Microsoft has finally managed to shift 1.5 million Xbox 360 units in Japan. It launched there in December 2005.

Japanese site Wazap (translated by Kotaku) noted the milestone, although the latest hardware chart shows Microsoft's console still lingering, as usual, in last place.

Worldwide, Xbox 360 sales are currently pegged at a far healthier 55 million total. That's five million more than the PlayStation 3, although still behind the Wii's 86.01 million.

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