I have played through about half of the game and will update if anything changes, however I can say that Steel Battalion Heavy Armor did not deserve the panning the critics gave it.
I consider myself a core gamer, however I have no hate for Kinect, Move, Wii, or Wii-U Tablet. I believe they can compliment core games. Steel Battalion is a core game for Kinect. It is definitely not a casual friendly game. The truth is, it's not a friendly game at all. It has a good amount of challenge (although it is not as challenging as its predecessors on the Xbox). You will feel the adrenaline rush of being in a cramped tank/mech and it is easy to get lost in the moment and begin to start "flailing." This is where you will find frustration. YOU CANNOT FLAIL.
Just to paraphrase a Kotaku review of the game, they claimed that it took 10 hours to get through the first two missions in the game. Now either I am in the wrong profession or I was just able to have Kinect properly calibrated and play "within control" because I was able to complete those missions within one hour. This is a difficult game and at times it is extremely frustrating. I ended up having to completely replay a mission because of some cheap AI sneaking behind your mech in a scripted event and launching an RPG. This had shattered my viewport and my periscope so I was more or less "screwed."
That's the thing with this game, if you make mistakes, you will likely have to replay with the knowledge you had before. It's funny that the critics loved Dark Souls and Demon Souls as I understand that From Software made those games as well. However they completely hate the same idea here because it is a Kinect game. I do think this is absurdly cheap myself so I have knocked one overall star from it on this premise (I like challenge, not cheap attacks).
However now let's get to the good stuff about this game specifically. First off, as I mentioned it is very intense. In fact it is so intense, that you will see your tank mates get shards into them, die when a hole is blown through the side, have grenades tossed in the tank, you name it. You will feel sorry for the people that die (you can save all of them apparently from what I've read) so each time you play it is a dynamic feeling and challenge to restart the campaign trying to keep the people you are familiar with alive. This definitely ups the intensity of the overall game.
The controls are a point of contention. Let me say that even for me they do not work 100% of the time. However they work a good 95% of the time and I think I'm even getting better than that as I play. You cannot flail. You must stick your arm out to select things but you don't begin by reaching out fully. You simply pick up your arm and when it is highlighted, then you reach out. Even the ammo switching buttons (which are the only thing I can't do all of the time) are easier to hit than the critic reviews would have you believe. The periscope and the shield that covers your viewport have never been a problem for me. To use your periscope you simply raise your hand straight up like you are asking a question. To use the shield for the viewport you simply, raise your hand a bit and point near the handle until it becomes highlighted and then reach forward. From there you either pull it up or down based on what you need to do. It's not that difficult. All of the tank controls work similarly, like I said the only one that I have found any frustration on is the ammo switching buttons but I think I've finally mastered them too.
You also play with the 360 controller pad which is interesting. You use the dual joysticks to move like you would in any first person shooter, and you use the trigger buttons for your autocannon and mortar rounds. To be honest, I think the mix of the Kinect and 360 controller was ingenious and really works. You generally will sit in a chair for most of the game, but you can stand up which will open the hatch. From there you can put your left hand near your eyes and it will allow you to use binoculars, however this isn't a good idea if there is gunfire as a stray bullet will take you out. The Kinect controls really immerse you in the game and you really do feel the rush of combat.
All in all I love the game, I could do without some of the excessive language (the game is marketed towards real adults because of the extreme difficulty, so I'm not impressed by hearing the F Word a 100 times). I recommend picking it up if you are on the fence, try the demo. It is indicative of how the game is, however the missions have a lot of variety and various levels of challenge. You will feel hopeless from time to time, but that's how I imagine war is. The story makes it seem as if it is an uphill challenge and you will feel it. You will be frustrated with the game, and not the controls within an hour of playing. I guarantee it. Grab a chair, sit about 6-10 feet away (as described in the instructions) and prepare for war!!!
Well I finished the main campaign and am desperately trying to fully upgrade my Vertical Tank but cannot seem to do so because of two frustrating missions. Just as an FYI, you can only upgrade your tank if you get a C Rank or better on Co-Op Missions. However you can get three upgrades for an A, two upgrades for a B, and one upgrade for a C. There are a total of 21 upgrades and 7 co-op missions (although the rumor is there will be more in DLC). Problem is, they are extremely frustrating by yourself since the AI is virtually useless outside of blowing up in the first three minutes. You have to find others to play with, which can be a chore. I have played about 10 co-op missions but unfortunately none of them have been the missions I need. Nobody seems to join my games, however that's not my big problem. The issue is, there often are not any games to join period. It seems the poor reviews have scared people off.
In finishing the game, I can say that the difficulty is a mixed bag. Some missions are extremely difficult while others are complete walks in the park. I think that has to do with it trying to be realistic. I imagine some missions in real life would be harder than others. The difficulty curve is almost non-videogame like. Also the tutorial and explanation of things is awful. You can bring people back for instance by replaying the missions they died in after it is over, and you also can upgrade your three tanks (I was only upgrading one). There isn't a great tutorial on that, but maybe I missed in in the instructions.
Control wise I have had no problem sitting about 4 feet away. I also cut off sunlight in the side of the camera which was causing interference. Since that has happened, the controls have been spot on for me. To hit the ammo type buttons, I simply go to viewport and swat straight down with my left for AP and straight down with my right for HEAT. If I want to use special ammo, I simply extend my right arm and push forward in viewport mode and it swaps there. I found that in a GameFaqs Forum.
Anyway I'm not changing the review, but I can say that the game is frustrating at times as I've said earlier. However once you get the controls down it's worth playing . If anybody wants to suffer through Co-Op sometime my SN on Live is DarthVargi.
Thanks for reading.
Video of me playing. It's tough to see the TV but you can see it works...[...]