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Steel Batallion: Heavy Armour review: A promising game, crippled by Kinect

Sharp ideas suffer in motion-controlled mess...

From forty buttons to precisely zero, the resurrection of Capcom's rich-gamer-with-a-lot-of-space pleaser is, not to put too fine a point on it, a do-or-die moment for Kinect and its grab for proper gamers.

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It doesn't get more hardcore than the developers of die-'em-up Dark Souls and a mech series built for an £130 gamepad. This second sequel to Capcom's 2002 Xbox exclusive hopes to marry accessibility with the level of tactical depth missing in the likes of Brunswick Pro Bowling.

In Heavy Armour, you are the controller, but you also have a controller - use it sitting or standing for more finicky stuff: aiming, firing and walking. The claustrophobic interior of your Vertical Tank (VT) is built for Kinect, a mess of levers, dials, knobs, and big red buttons deliberately hard to miss.

It feels like war for short-sighted people, but pre-school-sized tools are necessary evils given the proved inaccuracy of Kinect. To peek through the periscope, for example, you raise an arm - simple - but the gesture constantly triggers different actions. Everything works, but not necessarily when it's supposed to.

KINECTIBALLS

By default you're sitting at the back of your tank; to peek through the viewport you thrust both arms forwards, then use the thumbsticks and triggers for moving and shooting. Trouble is, when you rest your arms on your lap - you know, like a normal human - the game leans you back again.

You stick out your right hand to throttle the speed boost and you end up slamming the shutter. Now you're blind, so you switch on the exterior monitor but - oops! - you engaged ventilation instead. In a moment of madness you reach for the self-destruct button, but instead your arm flops like an elephant trunk. You can't even kill yourself.

Now imagine all this while people are shooting at you. It's like playing Armoured Core against veterans using only your elbows. This is a game utterly destroyed by motion controls, and a New York beach assault confirms it early on.

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The year is 2082, and due to a silicone-eating microbe that's chomped the world's microprocessors, America's the whipping boy in a low-fi age. The continent's been overrun, and you're fighting for a foothold. It starts in Manhattan, where you'll provide cover fire for hundreds of charging infantry. They literally get shredded by turrets and drop to the ground as vague body parts because extreme gore equals maturity.

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