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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.

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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

Steel Battalion Vs Kinect RushSteel Battalion Vs Kinect RushSteel Battalion Vs Kinect Rush
Work out controls, bravado with your crew, surviving the battlefield - welcome to Steel Battalion.

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.

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.

Steel Battalion Vs Kinect RushSteel Battalion Vs Kinect RushSteel Battalion Vs Kinect RushSteel Battalion Vs Kinect Rush
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.

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.

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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.

Steel Battalion Vs Kinect Rush
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.

For the Casual: Kinect Rush - A Disney Pixar Adventure

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The studio do a great job of recreating the look and feel of the movies.

Truthfully? Trials Evolution aside, this was the most fun we had during the Showcase. Something that even surprised the developer when we trooped round again come the second day to play through the remaining duo of the five film set that are represented by the title.

Developed in conjunction with Pixar, the game drops you into a fictional Pixar Park, an explorable hub world with five paths tiering off its middle. Walking up each will take you to a choice of three playable levels based on characters and locations from The Incredibles, Up, Toy Story, Ratatouille and Cars.

The game maps your features to create a Pixar-ed version of you to begin, and continuing the child-like avatars proposes that each of the levels are imaginative "What If..?" creations dreamed up by children playing in the park.

So in Up, we chase the balloon-buoyed house through a jungle (pummelling both arms and legs to pick up speed), swinging on vines (hands up) and kayaking down rivers (hands swinging from side to side). In Incredibles we toss rocks (hands out, lift, throw) and plunge down shafts (arms out to slow and turn, in to torpedo down), and in Cars we deck our ride out in spy gear and race around locales from the second movie (hands out to steer, jump and hold arms out to deploy wings and glide).

There's drop in/drop out co-op, with solo players companioned with characters from whatever movie they're currently in, with a simple clap letting you select you favourites and use each one's special abilities to find secrets along the level (though it's hard to beat the inquisitive enthusiasm of Up's Dug).

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Character creator will envision you in each film's style - all new designs straight from Pixar. Toy Story's robot avatar was designed by Buzz Lightyear's creator.

Come the end of our second play through, we've clocked one level from each film, each surprisingly long given Kinect's usual brevity towards highly energetic gameplay. These aren't short mini-games per say, but lengthy stages with puzzles and collectables, and who's mode of movement just happens to involve jostling your legs and swinging your arms.

We played a single level from each film, and they each stuck to roughly the style as we raced to some particular goal while performing feats for specific moves (lifting one leg to go on two wheels in Cars being a favourite).

The more open areas that we need to walk around worked less successfully than the on-rails sections, with turning circles in twisting the shoulders either too sharp or slow and thus lining up jumps wasn't as painless as it should be.

It's also title that clearly benefits from two players, cooperation joyfully devolving into competition to reach checkpoints. But we can see kids being too involved to give a fiddle whether their companion's real or imaginary.

Steel Battalion Vs Kinect Rush
The Pixar Park, where you start all your adventures. Note the birds roosting on the sign - there's a lot of nods to the Pixar Shorts in the game as well.

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

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