What's so special about this XBox game then ? I hear you ask. Well first off it is a sequel to a game I missed the chance of owning and was going for a minimum of £500 on eBay and its more than a game, more of an inverted commas experience !
Why did it command a such a high price and why does it not now ? I preordered the game in December 2003 and got it the day it was released at the end of March and was very surprised to find the box not only contained the items necessary to play the sequel but also the complete original game !
The large box over a foot square contained "Steel Battalion : Line of Contact" with the necessary hardware comprising of four large parts.
It took me a while to reconfigure my office to set the damn thing up, assembled the controller is only just shy of a meter wide ! and that does not take into too account the large foot pedal base !
Originally Capcom (he guys who brought us Street Fighter and many other well games) were asked by Microsoft to create a kick ass product for the new XBox, anything goes no holds barred. What they came up with was "Steel Battalion", limited to 40,000 copies world wide and commanding a price tag of three normal games it came with a one of a kind controller, completely useless with any other game and of a very high build quality.
"Steel Battalion" is a vertical tank combat simulator where realism is the put before anything else, don't believe me ? fail to flip open the eject button during combat and eject before your mech is destroyed and your saved game is wiped !
Just trying to start the game is nightmare or dream depending which way you look at it, first off you must close the cockpit, start the ignition, oxygen supply, fuel, shields and a few other things before you can hit the start button and begin, oh and each of those steps is a different button or switch on the controller (there are over forty buttons/switches).
The first thing you notice is the game play window is about a quarter of the overall screen, as you are viewing the inside of your cockpit and there is a lot to see in your cockpit from additional monitors, ammo, warnings and much more.
Controlling the mech or VT is done with the pedals and two joysticks, the pedals having accelerate, break and clutch, oh did forget to mention the console also has a seven point gear stick ?! The left large joystick rotating the angle you are facing, the right large joystick angling the weapons and the small joystick on the left large joystick controlling the cockpit, this simply means you can walk in one direction, have cockpit facing another and your weapons face a third independent direction, needles to say it can be a bit confusing at first !!
But once you have control the graphics are second to none, you really feel you are controlling this huge monster and just to catch you out, trying to turn hard left or right WILL result in you tipping the mech over !
This covers nothing about the involved missions or even the online play that "Line of Contact" has, easy it is not, and I will not venture online until I can complete the single player original !