Seven co-op missions. Not bad. Not great.
Each of the seven campaigns has a single co-op mission. When you deploy the game will let you know that you can create an open lobby, allowing up to three other players who have made equal or greater game progress to join you. Each player will pilot their own VT. No, you won't all be sharing the same cockpit of a single vehicle. These sessions are timed and usually last around seven minutes. If you do well you’ll earn upgrades for your VT. This is the only way to earn upgrades, so players should be flocking to this mode, right?
Wrong. The community is pretty much DOA. I haven’t played a session with more than one other person on a team. The missions are overly simple when compared to the rest of the game. Most players will earn all the unlocks in one or two attempts. There's a shared scoreboard, so if a stud shows up and kills everything, earning an “A” ranking, you’ll get that ranking too and be awarded all three upgrades. You’ll never have to play the mission again.
If you elect to play these missions solo you’ll be accompanied by pathetic AI who will get themselves killed and cost you points. I still got a few “A”s even with the AI. They seem to back off and hide if they don’t get killed right away. If you do manage to find a human partner, be sure to protect whoever is hosting the game. If the team leader dies, you’ll fail the mission. If you happen to die as a guest, you'll appear on top of one of the other operational VTs as a blue phantom and be able to spot enemies for the survivng pilots. No, I'm not kidding.
You'll eventually have access to three different VTs.
The VTs seem to have a nice selection of customization options, until I realized that most of the categories only had the one single upgrade. SB:HA’s co-op mode doesn’t hurt the game, but it doesn’t add anything to it, either. The missions are so short and simple, they’re not worth replaying once you’ve earned all the upgrades.
Funny note on the co-op: In the credits, there's a section called "Cooperative Stuff."
Even with all of its flaws, I still enjoyed most of the SB: HA. Limping my VT through a battlefield to luckily one-shot a final foe was an awesome experience. Fending off boarding infantrymen with my trusty knife offered a gruesome adrenaline rush. Watching a crew member die was devastating, mainly because I knew I’d have to take over their lousy job. However, I am a glutton for punishment. Similar gamers will find enjoyment here.
If you do have a Kinect, and are still looking to try SB:HA, play the demo. Make sure the room is well lit, you have at least ten feet of play space, and make sure you are sitting in a chair without armrests! This greatly increases the Kinect’s sensitivity. Approach the game with an open mind, as if you are trying to learn a new skill. The controls were incredibly frustrating at first, but after I got use to them I could pilot my Vertical Tank effectively, if not gracefully. If you don’t have a Kinect, feel free to use SB:HA as Exhibit A when you want to make fun of the motion sensor.
Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor is available exclusively on the Xbox 360. The Kinect sensor is required to play the game.
The Co-Op Experience: Four players stomp the battlegrounds together on a variety of maps, earning new unlockable items with which to customize their Vertical Tanks.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.