Steel Battalion rerelease and multiplayer

There will be another production run of the controller available in February.

A multiplayer-only XBox Live ‘sequel’ ships in March.

If you like giant stomping things, you know what to do.

Hell yeah. Up to 10 players at a time and some sort of meta-game keeping track of the war. Important to note that there is no single player in Line of Contact. That’s probably why the new pack includes the original.

Also from the beta reports it sounds like the draw distance is a lot father out, and they do some cool stuff with you point of view that really takes advantage of the cockpit being fully rendered in 3d.

You’d think with the interest generated by the original SB and that MS would do something similar for the Battletech IP they now control (the interactive part of the IP anyhow). The BT community has been screaming for years for an experience that has the level of realism that the old Tesla Pod BT game brought to the table.

This game really looks cool, but the price tag is a little high to jump in feet first without hearing anything about it. I’ll do a google search for opinions on this, but does anyone here have any comments on this game and controller?


This is, at best, loosely related to Steel Battalion, but figured it’s worth a shot.

A few months ago someone mentioned a Battletech or Mechwarrior like game that was web-based. For the life of me, I can’t find the post, or remember what the game was called (it was like nolife or novotna or something no-ish, I think).

Anyone remember?

For the record, I loved SB, but my fiance did not appreciate having the monster controller out in the living room…

I really liked SB, but the controller is really integral to the experience. If it were just the game and it used a regular controller, I don’t think anyone would have really noticed it. But all the cool buttons lighting up and tromping the mech around with a throttle and two joysticks is just too cool. In truth, most of the controller is just flash. You’ll only use the joysticks, the pedals and the throttle, for the most part. Everything else tends to have one function that you only use very rarely. The windshield washer, for instance.

The controller is very high quality, for the most part. It feels a bit plasticky when you first handle it, but the sticks are exceptionally well-made, especially the stiff yet responsive aiming stick. Essentially, one stick controls your mech’s movement (utilizing the left stick, which only moves left and right, along with a hat that controls your torso’s orientation in relation to your legs), while the right stick controls your right arm, where your main gun is. A lot of those switches on the lower part of the controller are used only during the elaborate start-up sequence, which adds a lot to the feeling of being strapped inside a giant walking gun platform.

Don’t be expecting an Evangelion or Robotech-style mech game here. It’s a slow-moving game by virtue of your machine’s rather less-than-speedy nature. You can get up to a good clip of about 70mph, but if you try to turn or make sudden movements at high speed, you can actually tip over. Getting up is a bit of a process, and leaves you a sitting duck. The best missions (IMO) involve a full team of the mechs invading or defending an area. The second mission sends you out with a group of ten or so comrades, storming an enemy beachhead. Pretty awesome. Everything is dark and a little gritty, as the view is actually a video feed piped in from a camera on the outside of the mech. The replays have a really cool shaky-cam CNN feel to them, as well. Eventually your view gets larger and clearer, as more advanced mechs become available over the course of the war campaign.

Also worthy of note is the Eject button. You lose major points for ejecting. However, if you do not eject when your mech blows up, your pilot dies, and your save is erased. Yeah, you read that right. Don’t eject in time and your game is gone. Time to start over. It sounds like a bitch, but it’s one of my favorite elements of the game. It’s also not all that long, so you don’t generally lose a whole lot of time. To make up for the length (20 missions), there are like seven difficulty levels to play through.

I’ve never regretted spending the $200 on it, but I’m one of the biggest mech whores you’re likely to find. Even if I hadn’t purchased it already, I would do so now just to be able to play Line of Contact. Online play with this title could be something spectacular.


My experience:

I was lucky enough to pick up a gently-used copy of Steel Battalion just before Christmas for about CAN$150. I was on the fence about the game for a long time, mainly due to it’s MSRP of CAN$300. At half off, I couldn’t resist any more and lugged the gigantic box from our local game store to the office with this stupid half-gleeful/half-shameful look on my face. A woman that we passed on the street must’ve keyed into this because she had this all-too-knowing smirk of “boys and their toys” on her face. Anyway…

Laying the beast out on a table was awe-inspiring. I loved the Battletech Pods at Virtual World, but never had the opportunity to play in the last version of them before they went defunct. This is the closest anyone will ever get to simulating this experience at home. You’ll need a seating arrangement that is conducive to using the foot pedals. Since I only have a coffee table in my living room, I had to regularly adjust my normal playing position to avoid becoming a hunchback…but it suits the game’s methodical pace.

My sound setup at home is 5.1 digital with some solid speakers, so I ensured that I was in the sweet spot. Once the lights went out, I became incredibly immersed. Seeing the lights flicker across the controls was worth the money and effort of lugging this thing out, and playing it in its optimal environment took the experience to a completely new level.

The game’s pace at early levels is lumbering yet intense. The startup sequence is very fun (can get repetative if you’re not into that immersion thing), and the introduction to the VT controls is ok. I wish the first mission were a little meatier, but they start with simple objectives and ease you into more complex functions at a good clip.

I found myself replaying the first mission several times just to come to grips with the controls, but please note: I re-played these missions of my own accord. If your VT (Vertical Tanks…Capcom’s riff on the copyrighted ‘Mech’) is destroyed and you DON’T eject, your character (save game and all) dies. As long as you have credits and manage to eject, you live on to fight another day. If you die but do well enough, your character is imortalized. I love this whole take on the save game, others may not.

By the 3rd mission, the game ramps into being unforgiving. By this point, I had to restart 2 times. I was always coming back saying “I can do this!”. I am currently on the 4th mission, only because family and real life have interrupted me from continuing. It’s best when you have some friends over and round-robin the pilot’s seat, as replays and cooperative competition are just incredibly gratifying.

Hope that helps you out!

Yeah, a Mechwarrior version of this game probably would have sold 3-4 times as well. What that means in actual revenue, I dunno. Microsoft isn’t interested in games that sell 40,000 units, though.

Microsoft might be more inclinded to do a fancy-schmancy joystick/cockpit device for MS Flight Sim before they do something expensive for Mechwarrior.

Missed it the first time around because I was too busy/lazy to pick it up, but if it’s re-released, and if the new game comes with the old game…man, I’m there. :D

The only reason I passed on this game is replay value. I just can’t justify paying that much money for a short single-player game. But I love the idea of it, and I loved the controls (I messed with it at E3, the year it was released). With Live support, I’d consider buying it.

Actually the torso and legs stay aligned all the time. The hat on the left stick pans the camera that’s mounted on the torso. Also the right stick control the aiming for all weapons, including the usually torso mounted secondary chaingun.

To me SB is the best simulator experience you can have on a console. Once you’re out of the limitations of the standard controller, the developers really let go with their design. There were a lot of complaints early on about the graphics in the game, but the reviewers didn’t realize that you start out in a crappy VT so you camera resolution is not so good.

Along those lines the game is punishing almost to a fault. There’s fuel and energy management, if you don’t pay attention to speed and stability you’ll wind up on your ass, with 3 pedals, two sticks a hat and a shifter, your primary controls are complex.

But if you’re a mech junkie, there’s no better game out there for home use. I think it’s well worth the price of admission, but you may want to try out a friends first before putting down that much money on a single game.

I’m with Rorshach on this. This is the best mech simulator you can get, bar none (and I’m a mech game fanatic). My biggest problem with most of the reviews of the game is that they seemed to constantly harp on the simplicity in gameplay- ignoring or playing down just how immersive and complex the whole package is.

I’m sooooo on this on Xbox Live next month. :)

Ah, that’s right. Sorry, it’s been nearly a year since I played it. I guess I’d better get in some practice before I take this sucker online.

To me SB is the best simulator experience you can have on a console. Once you’re out of the limitations of the standard controller, the developers really let go with their design. There were a lot of complaints early on about the graphics in the game, but the reviewers didn’t realize that you start out in a crappy VT so you camera resolution is not so good.

Agreed 100%. It’s a shame the cost of doing something like this prevents more developers from taking these kinds of leaps. It’s also a shame that Capcom hasn’t utilized this controller for other things, although I guess SB owners would probably be a pretty small audience.

And yeah, for those about to pick it up, if the graphics put you off at first, stick with it. You get more advanced mechs later on that have gorgeous virtual cockpit displays.

Check out this video (4mins. 39MB) showing the attract mode of the LOC beta. It really shows off the fully rendered cockpit, and the improved graphics (yay draw distance!) and has a nice water effect to round things out.

Also I’m mistaken, it looks like the torso is linked to the right stick that aims the weapons. The left stick turns the legs, the hat moves the camera and the right sitck aims the weapons. As torso may twist at some point in there but it doesn’t really matter.

The site is also where all the hardcore SB fans hang out. You can peruse the forums for reports on members who were in the beta that just recently closed.

OK, Dammit, you sold me.

I’ll be picking up Steel Batallion for my birthday present.

Those videos are awesome!

Just to be sure everyone knows, Capcom is re-releasing the original SB game plus controller for US$199 mid-to-end of February. Then in mid-March The new game will be released as a stand alone for US$49.

The new game Line of Contact will be online only and require the controller. There is a new controller being released but it is unknown what additional features besides blue buttons are on it (rumor is there might be a headset port built into it.

For those of us with the old controller, you plug a normal controller in with the headset and confirm to get voice on the game.

It’s available on their website now:

Can’t wait to pick this thing up, it’s one of the reasons I bought an XBox.

You know the same guy who worked on Viewtiful Joe (he was the main force behind the design of Joe) conceptualized this game, though its main visionary is somebody else and Inaba worked under both of them. (Hideki Kamiya for Viewtiful Joe, someone I think, Ohara, for Tekki, can’t remember.) He’s also responsible for Gyakuten Saiban, a highly successful and fresh GBA series that’s a Rywill simulation. So I’d say Atsushi Inaba is one of the rising talents over at Capcom, he also has a new GC project underway that he’s heading and hinted at with blurry hint captures recently.

He’s attracted a surprisingly high profile and amount of pull at Capcom for a relatively young, new developer. But since he was also involved with Devil May Cry, I guess that gets anyone a certain amount of free mileage. I believe he turned down the opportunity to do Biohazard Outbreak for the PS2 'cause no one to develop the engine and the guy they eventually got for it, pretty much said, “Why me? Do I really have to?” He he he.