The original Steel Battalion is remembered for two things: It was an Xbox exclusive, and it had a batty controller.
The latest Steel Battalion gets the Xbox part (well, Xbox 360) right, but something is sorely missing. That is an enormous controller.
With Kinect, players become the controller. Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor does not use the exclusive controller released with the original title — and according to Capcom, the Kinect version will not register it if players try to incorporate motion controls with it. Players do use the standard Xbox 360 controller with the game, however.
If Kinect is supposed to make life easier than that huge SB controller, shouldn't that mean it make the experience more realistic?
The Kinect version of Steel Battalion does incorporate some cool motion based gestures, such as moving your hands — as you hold the Xbox 360 controller forward — to zoom in on the Vertical Tank's scope. And I do like that the game uses both Kinect and the Xbox 360 controller.
What is beyond me, is how it incorporates Kinect. For example, to turn and talk to your comrades, players don't simply turn their heads and the Kinect tracks them. No, instead, players stick out their hands and must make Vanna White style letter turning gestures to turn and look at the other men in the VT. It's completely unnatural.
Why can't players simply say "right" or "left"? Wouldn't that be easier? The easiest would be another enormous controller that mimicked that enormous Steel Battalion. Might have been the easiest, but it would not be Kinect.
Instead of the enormous Steel Battalion controller, players using Kinect and the Xbox 360 controller does seem like a good fix so A). People don't have to shell out insane amounts of money for an insane, dedicated controller and B). Kinect owners can play a core title on Xbox Live Arcade.
But what's wrong with a nutty, dedicated controller? There's something to be said about a controller that is designed to play one game and one game only. And that, dear reader, is dedication. You are buying that controller to play a specific game. It's a big and enormous badge of honour. Wear it.
Maybe Capcom thought it couldn't sell a truck load of big Steel Battalion controllers — a fair assumption. The Kinect controllers might be work around, but I miss the controller. I miss the plastic insanity.