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ARTICLE

Steel Battalion Vs Kinect Rush

At Microsoft's Showcase last week, the publisher let the press run riot with its latest wave of Kinect titles.

Here, we pick out not only the best titles on display, but also a couple of the best titles at the show full stop...and one of them is a Disney title.

The two sides of the tech - core and casual - are finally letting the controller find its stride with a mixture of family-friendly gaming that didn't sacrifice fun for simplicity, and titles that will grind the core beneath their boot-heel.

Both sides surprised, and can't be contained to one preview. So here's our first round match-up of sorts, between Steel Battalion: Heavy Armour, and Kinect Rush: A Disney/Pixar Adventure. Stick with us, as later this week we'll bring you Fable: The Journey Vs Kinect Star Wars and Diablolical Pitch Vs Wreckateer.

For the Core: Steel Battalion: Heavy Armour

Work out controls, bravado with your crew, surviving the battlefield - welcome to Steel Battalion.
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Halo 4 might have been revealed at Showcase, and we may have spent more man-hours at the Trials Evolution booth, but Heavy Armour was the game that kept us buzzing - and talking about - for entirety of the trip.

Capcom has crafted the most convincing Mech simulator outside the Gundam egg capsule arcade cabinets in Tokyo. Steel Battalion takes all those key words that come packaged with the technology - deeper immersion, intuitive control, new experiences - and fuses them into a cohesive whole.

And a whole that lets you, no, forces you, to sit down while playing.

Battalion continues its love affair with complex realism - there's roughly twenty different button presses, gestures and moves, all essential to survival and made with Kinect alone. Starting the engine, changing bullet types, checking cameras and the state of your on-board crew.

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Hitting the correct switches requires you raise your hand towards the right area and stretching it forward, with Kinect translating your actions on-screen. a quick flick of your hands left or right will turn you to face each of your mech operators in turn.

All this, and you've got to grip the standard Xbox 360 controller in your mitt as well to move your mech with the sticks.

It's harder than learning to drive a car, and ploughing through a battlefield is the same as whipping down a motorway at 120mph in that you make the wrong move and you're dead.

Enemy soldiers will occasionally drop grenades in that need to be flung back out [left], while a quiet moment as you seek out fresh water lets the crew's personalities shine forth [right]

Stand up and you'll raise yourself out of the hatch above - raise your hand to your face to snap into binoculars view. Amazingly, and the developer reports similar scenes from everyone playing, we instinctively cup our hands into mock binoculars and hold them to our eyes. The immersion is complete. Later on your mech will come equipped with a machine gun turret that you'll need to operate from here.

The realism makes it an entirely engaging experience, and your interaction with three NPCs sitting in the tank alongside you flavours it with a honest (if Hollywood-styled) look at the mental state of soldiers during battle.

You'll instinctively bro-fist your machine-gunner after a successful shot. Reach down to grab and lob a grenade tossed into your tin-can after an enemy soldier opens the hatch, then labour over which of the well fleshed-out characters you'll give the last canteen of water to as you crawl across desert looking for the nearest oasis.

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Hilariously we'd put both our hands up unconsciously while talking to the developer to the side of booth, only to hear a commotion coming from the screen. We turned back to see our gunner swatting away our virtual hands that were hovering over his face, asking us what the hell we thought we were doing.

The studio do a good job in showing you how much you interact with the world - be it instinctively catching a tossed apple [left] or bro-fisting the gunner after a successful shot [right]

Steel Battalion broaches the horror as well as black comedy of war. The battlefield is bloody difficult to survive. We got annihilated a few short minutes into the opening level's beach landing as we got to grips with our tank's controls. Bullet fire and explosions a great deterrent of concentration.

But Steel Battalion's sells determination to succeed with its complexity. We spent the following night and day running over controls in our mind. We looked like we were grappling invisible angels on the bus as we trained through the necessary motions. We didn't care.

It's the game you've got to try Kinect for. And if Capcom don't bundle a mock crew suit in with pre-orders, we'll be down to the nearest army surplus store to prep for launch. This could well be the poster child for selling Kinect to the core.

push the controller forward to pull yourself into the driving seat - the glass here can shatter due to sustained fire, at which point you need to pull the shutter over and navigate either by periscope, or by popping the hatch.

Check out the game in action here, and we'll have an interview with the development studio on the site in the near future.

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