As Brian Ashcraft reported during the Tokyo Game Show in September, Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor foregoes the pricey, complicated controller of the original game in favor of a slightly less convoluted control scheme that uses Microsoft's Kinect and a real gamepad.
You are the controller! That's what Microsoft told us during E3 2010, when their camera-powered motion controller made its debut as Kinect. Soon we will all be playing games without traditional controllers at all, waving our hands mystically about to do everything from mixing potions to controlling giant mechs. Apparently we're not a very versatile controller, because Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor requires both the Kinect and a standard Xbox game pad.
I find this disappointing. Why? Well for one it's a game that requires Kinect to play, but also requires more traditional controls for key gameplay elements. Why not allow players to forego Kinect control completely, using the analog sticks on the Xbox controller to act as stand-ins for the player's hands?
I'm guessing it's because then it wouldn't be the hardcore Kinect exclusive it's being touted as, just another normal game with a little Kinect functionality thrown in to appease purchasers of the peripheral, sort of like Forza 4.
It's kind of sad that there's a new Steel Battalion game coming out and I'm less interested every time I see it. Perhaps it's time to dig that massive controller out of the closet and give the original another go.