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MechWarrior fights cancer photo
MechWarrior fights cancer

Fight cancer with giant mechs


MechWarrior Online selling unique $10 mech in honor of cancer victim, proceeds donated to Canadian Cancer Society
Jul 25
// Steven Hansen
MechWarrior Online, the delightfully complex competitive mech pilot sim, is currently selling "Sarah's Mech." The mech is named in honor of five-year-old Sarah Marie Alida Parries who played MechWarrior Online with her father...
Armored Core Verdict photo
Armored Core Verdict

Armored Core: Verdict Day trailer all about explosions


'No future for mercs'
Jul 12
// Chris Carter
This trailer for the upcoming Armored Core: Verdict Day is all over the place, as it gives you a taste of the game's narrative, thematic elements, and a ton of gameplay to boot. The core focus is faction warfare, tying into ...
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Armored Core: Verdict Day isn't looking that hot


Just wasn't doing it for me
Jun 12
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
I'm coming at Armored Core: Verdict Day from an outsider perspective. Those of you that enjoyed V? You'll like this one, I'm sure. It's a lot like V, as a lot of the features you got out of that game pretty much carries over ...
Heavy Gear Assault photo
Heavy Gear Assault

Mech game Heavy Gear Assault gets a Kickstarter


Developer Stompy Bot resurrects the franchise
May 23
// Chris Carter
Developer Stompy Bot Productions has launched a Kickstarter for a new mech game called Heavy Gear Assault, based on the popular Heavy Gear franchise. Their goal is $800,000 for this free-to-play multiplayer shooter, and only ...
Armored Core: VD photo
Armored Core: VD

A grim trailer for Armored Core: Verdict Day


With some bonus screenshots
Apr 12
// Jordan Devore
Although the name may suggest otherwise, Armored Core: Verdict Day is a full installment, not some continuation of AC V. As we heard earlier from Keith, developer From Software is emphasizing a three-faction war that will be...

Remember Chromehounds? Here's Armored Core: Verdict Day

Apr 11 // Keith Swiader
Armored Core: Verdict Day (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 [Previewed])Developer: From SoftwarePublisher: Namco BandaiRelease: Fall 2013 "That looks like Chromehounds!," I shouted in my head once I saw the game's main menu, which details a tri-colored real-time intelligence map of the current three-faction war. The war, or season, as it was called, resets once two of the factions succumb to the might of the third. Knowing which team is in the lead will become more apparent as one of the three colors -- red, green and blue-- begins to take up more and more space on the map. These factions, I was told, represent North America, Europe and Asia -- at least in the minds of From Software. The factions remained nameless during the presentation. But why three factions, and not two or four? Simply put, three is the sweet spot in terms of game design, where two is too few and four just becomes a mess. Producer Toshifumi Nabeshiba said that development of Verdict Day saw the team focus on its online component as well as renewing its overall game design, and that is visible through the game's new Operator mode. Here, players indirectly engage in battle against other players by commanding a squad of AI-driven Armored Cores -- mechs -- which was also referred to as an "AI counter-system." Through this, players that may not otherwise be able to keep with the best in the game can now have a fighting chance in participating in the action. "[An operator's] role is to search for the enemy, analyze the enemy information and give a command to his Armored Core's based on that information," Nabeshiba said before calling this gameplay "real-time simulator." The AI mechs can have specialties, like in close-range combat, for instance, and the more you play the more powerful mechs you can acquire. Customization is also a big part of Verdict Day, Nabeshiba added, and during the demo a new transforming weapon type was shown off, which can go back and forth from being a melee weapon to firing bullets and projectiles. "We believe that by introducing new parts and categories, we'll give players more options for battle and battle strategies," he said. Armored Core: Verdict Day is a brand new entry in the franchise, and not an expansion of Armored Core V, Nabeshiba assured, and is due out later this year. If you somehow couldn't tell from this hands-off look, I love, love, looove Chromehounds, and I am ecstatic to see the gameplay mechanics from that cult classic infiltrate the Armored Core series.  Whenever this three-faction war decides to enlist, I'll be damned if I'm not one of the first enrollments.
Armored Core: Verdict Day photo
A three-faction war rages on
Back in early 2006 there was not much going for the Xbox 360 in regards to engrossing online play. There was Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter, which was great, but that was it. That is, however, until the release of From Soft...

Heavy Gear photo
Heavy Gear

Unreal Engine 4-powered Heavy Gear Assault goes all out


'The first next-generation mecha game'
Apr 04
// Alessandro Fillari
The folks at MekTek Studios are pulling out all the stops for their new mecha game, Heavy Gear Assault. A new title in the fan-favorite giant robot action game, MekTek and Stompy Bot Productions are looking to satisfy fans o...
Mech Rentals photo
Mech Rentals

Buy or rent you own mech!


Such a bargain!
Apr 01
// Joshua Derocher
If you have ever had a desire to drive a mech around town, now you can finally have that dread come true. Head on over to Khang's Mechs and check out their low prices on top of the line mechs. Dave says they're epic. This is another April fool's gag, but it would be really sweet to own a mech.
New Armored Core photo
New Armored Core

Armored Core: Verdict Day announced for 360 and PS3


Rock 'em Sock 'em Corebots
Feb 22
// Chris Carter
[Update: Namco Bandai has just announced the game will see a US release. More official screens have been added to the gallery.] Although Armored Core V didn't deliver the goods for a lot of people, I still have hope for the f...
Mechs photo
Mechs

First trailer reveal for Heavy Gear Assault


Revitalised mech combat franchise returns
Feb 19
// Alasdair Duncan
If you needed any reminder that 2013 could well be the Year of the Mech, then this reveal trailer for Heavy Gear Assault should be another strong reminder that mechs are truly back. Developed by MekTekStudios and published b...
Hawken video photo
Hawken video

Hawken trailer shows off new PhysX eye candy


That your PC can't handle
Jan 30
// Allistair Pinsof
In case you were concerned that visually-stunning mech shooter Hawken would run well on your computer, you can always turn on the PhysX options that will ensure amazing visuals and mournful performance (for most). In this vi...

Review: Zone of the Enders HD Collection

Nov 24 // Brett Zeidler
Zone of the Enders HD Collection (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed])Developer: Kojima Productions, High Voltage Software Publisher: KonamiRelease: October 30, 2012MSRP: $39.99 If you're intimately familiar with these games after playing them countless times on your PlayStation 2, yes, these are the exact same games you remember. They stay true to the originals by keeping the exact same content, but upgrading the textures, smoothing out the jaggies, and expanding the aspect ratio to widescreen. These are the games you know and love, looking more beautiful than ever before. Read on for more technical details. The first Zone of the Enders was developed concurrently alongside Metal Gear Solid 2. Even back in 2001, it was clear which was neglected in design and budget. The story was a mess and, frankly, wasn't interesting at all (voice acting was equally painful to listen to). It follows Leo as a group of his friends are killed, and he happens upon Jehuty (your Orbital Frame from here on out) and its AI A.D.A., where they go on adventure not unlike Zelda where you must find particular upgrades so the ship can leave the Jupiter colony installation in one piece. The climax never really comes to a satisfying resolution, and the player can never really feel bothered to care for the characters. It was the gameplay and the visuals that kept players invested. I can even recall a time when I thought it was the best-looking game I ever saw up to that point. Combat was quick, sleek, and made the player feel like a badass. Even though the player never meets any new enemies, and the camera can prove to be a problem occasionally, fighting always felt right. There is nothing quite as satisfying as pulling out insane combos with your sword, backing off to fire a few shots, boosting to the side to launch some rockets, and finishing it all off with a final strike. All in beautiful HD now, to boot. No other game (that I know of) to this day plays like Zone of the Enders. It holds up remarkably well, save for the awful story and voice acting. The game's aesthetic looks better than it ever has -- colors just pop with the increased resolution. Only the game's cinematics were not able to receive the HD treatment. But really, there isn't much reason to watch them anyway. Flash forward ahead to 2003, and Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner took everything that was said about the first Z.O.E. above, but multiplied it by ten. Even the PS2 version still looks gorgeous now. Kojima Productions went with a cel-shaded look where particle effects glow and shine through all of the action perfectly, and there's much more variety in the environments which all helps to create a perfect storm of eye candy in HD. The anime cinematics were also redone in full HD this time around, so nothing was left untouched when it came out of its time capsule. The story and voice acting are slightly better in this sequel, but there's still not much that can be said about them. It's all very forgettable. Again, it's the gameplay that makes all of the same problems passable. Combat moves much, much faster than in the first title, and the game will throw many more enemies at you than before. Good thing Jehuty has a revitalized moveset and array of weapons to take care of them like it's nothing. This is the best way to experience mecha action that no other game can offer like Z.O.E. But if you just want to catch up on the series, High Voltage Software did an amazing job bringing these cult classics up to speed on the Xbox 360. Be warned, however, that the PlayStation 3 version (which we did not play for review) is well-documented to have a significantly lower performance. If you're an old fan, dedicated fan, or a would-be brand new fan of the series, Zone of the Enders HD Collection is easily worth your time and money, especially with the inclusion of the Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance demo and The 2nd Runner alone.
Z.O.E. HD Review photo
Mecha action brought up to speed
Zone of the Enders was a welcome departure from Hideo Kojima's legendary brainchild Metal Gear Solid back in 2001. While a stark contrast to tactical espionage action, Z.O.E. always weirdly felt like it could easily fit ...

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Strike Suit Zero successfully funded, beta in December


Space-mecha-shooting is go!
Nov 21
// Alasdair Duncan
Space combat fans will be happy to know that the ambitious Strike Suit Zero Kickstarter campaign has managed to hit its funding goal and more. With the project confirmed, developer Born Ready is rolling out a closed beta in D...
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MechWarrior Online open beta impending


Mechanical murder for all
Oct 26
// Fraser Brown
Mark October 29 on your calendar, or on the wall of your cell, people. Come Monday, MechWarrior Online is moving to open beta and -- if you haven't already -- you'll finally get a taste of that hot mech on mech action.  ...
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Strike Suit Zero devs turn to Kickstarter to finish game


Can you spare $100,000? For mechs?
Oct 25
// Jordan Devore
Casey's preview of Strike Suit Zero had me on board before I finished reading it. Even halfway decent space combat is an alluring prospect in this day and age, to say nothing of the ship's ability to transform into a mech. Wh...
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MechWarrior Online open beta incoming


Founder's Program ending soon
Oct 10
// Jordan Devore
After working with players on the closed beta of MechWarrior Online, Piranha Games is nearly ready to transition into the open beta. That will be happening on Tuesday, October 16, and those on the fence about the Founder's Pr...
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Zone of the Enders HD Collection targets late Oct. launch


Sep 19
// Jordan Devore
Halloween with Zone of the Enders HD Collection doesn't sound like a bad way to spend the day at all. In North America, the two-game pack will be out for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on Tuesday, October 30. HD Collection compil...

Preview: Strike Suit Zero and space-based mech warfare

Sep 07 // Casey Baker
Strike Suit Zero (PC)Developer: Born Ready GamesPublisher: DoublesixRelease: TBD You may have seen the trailers for Strike Suit Zero floating around here and elsewhere on the Internet, and the glimpse of giant mechs may have gotten your mind to imagining some heavy duty ground combat sections. This may be a bit misleading, as I was informed by the developers that Strike Suit Zero only takes place hovering thousands of miles above any sort of solid ground, if anywhere near it at all. However, I would definitely urge you not to be disappointed by this news, as the primary transforming mech suit more than makes up for it with its incredible versatility in space warfare. Even with a pre-beta build that we had a chance to play, the combat was both challenging and engaging. In the first mission we previewed, the first large-scale battle took place against a great deal of smaller ships. This helped me get a feel for the basic controls, which are generally mouse and keyboard controls with a few adjustments relating to boosting and extra movement in the Strike Suit. Gamepads and joysticks are also supported, though I stuck with the typical PC controls. The mission's storyline involved coming to the aid of a destroyed Earth base in the midst of a massive civil war between colonists possessing a powerful technology and those still remaining patriotic to the planet. The sense of a large battle taking place was in full effect, as ships on my side engaged in dogfights while I tried my best to keep hordes of enemy ships in my line of fire. With a press of the spacebar, my ship would quickly transform into its mech state -- provided I had enough "flux." In this mode, I could hold down the right mouse button to paint several targets and release it to let go of a barrage of missiles that destroyed several targets at once. The Strike Suit also can dash quickly out of the way of incoming enemy projectiles in full 360-degree movement, and shoots powerful machine gun bursts as its primary weapon. Flux is gained by taking down enemies in chains, and it is entirely possible to stay in this more powerful mode provided you can keep chaining kills and refilling your flux bar. At one point during the session, a comparison was made regarding the space combat to Max Payne -- which I found a little strange at first, but as soon as I figured out how to effectively use the Strike Suit, this comparison completely clicked. As you're battling enemies, you learn quickly to switch back and forth in rapid bursts between your mech suit and your regular ship to effectively store flux and keep enough power stored for stronger enemies. One of the biggest strategies -- especially in the later parts of the second mission we previewed -- can be found in quickly switching to your mech suit to paint a few targets and dodge a few missiles before switching right back to your normal ship mode and boosting out of harm's way. This definitely did give off a similar vibe to Max Payne's bullet-dodge mechanic, as it was all about the best timing to get into a special mode before painting several targets and leaping out of the way. As mentioned before, the game was still in a pre-beta stage so although there was narrative and storyline built in, it was given to us by a hastily Photoshopped and distorted picture of a young and much maligned male pop star as a space commander with a robotic female voice. Of course, we were told to ignore this early build stuff, but in a weird way, it sort of worked. Granted, I'm sure the actual narrative will be handled much more professionally but like early screenings of movies where character dialogue has some odd kinks to be worked out, it was still sort of fun to see some effort put into getting the story and dialogue at least set into place. Overall, I really believe Strike Suit Zero will do an awesome job in reviving the space combat genre for those who grew up with and loved games like Wing Commander. It has intelligent, tough enemy AI and a great Strike Suit advantage that prepares you for the challenges ahead with powerful defensive and offensive abilities. The eerie, otherworldly soundtrack is certainly no slouch either.
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Born Ready Games has a vision to revive large-scale space combat as a viable genre in the vein of games like Wing Commander and Freelancer. With their new PC venture Strike Suit Zero, the company is poised to do exactly that....

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How does next week sound for Iron Brigade on PC?


Aug 07
// Jordan Devore
Even this long after the name change, I'm still not used to calling it Iron Brigade. The game formerly known as Trenched will be making the waltz over to PC on August 13, 2012, Double Fine has announced. And yes, it'll be ava...
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Last week, we headed down to Nvidia headquarters and got our first look at the free-to-play, Cryengine3-powered Mechwarrior Online from Piranha Games. I got to chat with the game's creative director, Bryan Ekman, and he told ...

Preview: MechWarrior Online

Aug 02 // Steven Hansen
MechWarrior Online (PC) Developer: Piranha Games Publisher: Infinite Game Publishing Release: Summer 2012 More and more titles are embracing the free-to-play market and MechWarrior Online is among them. With recent, praised releases like Blacklight Retribution and Tribes: Ascend, as well as the upcoming, mech-based Hawken, visual fidelity up to current standards is basically expected of Western free-to-play games. As such, MWO boasts some high-fidelity visuals and DirectX11 support. That being said, the art direction largely leans towards a dank and war-torn direction. The levels I played felt rather similar, despite changes in color tone. There was a snow-blindingly white locale, a rainy, mountainous evening, a level with a sickening greenish industrial flair and smoke stacks, a washed out, crumbling urban environment, and so on. Everything feels quite desolate and the levels are mostly open outdoor environments -- these battle mechs need room to strut their stuff -- so there is an air of familiarity about them, despite the changes in terrain and lighting. However, I’m sure these subtle stage differences are going to be important factors to consider for someone who knows the game well and isn’t in their equivalent of a first day behind the wheel. The devil’s in the details and there are details here for days, to the point of intimidation. It’s not the most accessible title around. It took me a while just to get acclimated to the vehicular piloting of the mechs and it wasn’t until I was just about ready to call it a night that I claimed my first victim. Giants robots are hard to destroy, even if you have your own giant robot. Who would’ve thunk it? For the uninitiated, as I was, down (s) and up (w) control your throttle forward and backward, setting your mech to a constant speed. Right (d) and left (a) point the mech in the direction you want it heading, while your pilot looks around freely relative to where your mouse is pointing, though you can no longer look around a full 360 degrees (at least not in the ones I used) like an inquisitive owl. Otherwise, the scheme is familiar. Click the mouse to fire your lasers (or, sometimes, other weapons), space to jump for mechs outfitted with such an ability, and so on. Oh, and a super neat controller is in the works, too, though I didn’t get to use it. Simulation! These lumbering hulks can absorb a lot of punishment and your lasers overheat with quickness when overused, which causes a temporary system-wide shutdown, leaving you vulnerable. Again, it’s a slow-moving affair. Teamwork, restraint and thoughtful piloting seemed imperative, giving confrontations a dogfight sort of volley as you trade strangely whimsical red and green pew pews of laser. Mechs are armored differently and will take a lot of damage to different portions before finally sustaining critical damage, rendering you a scrap heap for the remainder of the present match. In addition to the combat, there is an extensive warehouse for playing robot dress up, as well as selecting pilot perks. BattleMechs can be outfitted with different armor, weapons and color schemes. Also in this depot, you can choose between your available battle bots, which come in light, medium and heavy varieties. During my hands-on time, there were about a dozen available, all of which had dull names like HBK-46 or the slightly more colorful Ranger, instead of cool ones like Deathscythe, but I guess you can’t fault them for that. These are heavily industrialized, realistic death machines, after all. Once you begin to swap out parts, the possibilities are rather staggering. Each individual piece -- head, torso, arms, legs -- has applicable weapons or armor to change and more still to buy. It remains to be seen how viable all of the possible builds will be, but, for the time being, they’re possible, and should work towards giving your mechano-man a distinct feel that conforms to your play style. Equally up in the air is how purchasable content, like parts, will affect stat differences, or how viable a completely (real-world) purchase-free build will be; balance, in short. I’m quite interested to see how the well traveled MechWarrior property adapts to this free-to-play model, especially with sexy up and comer Hawken right on its tail. There’s definitely a learning curve to it, which could keep new players from investing the time it takes to learn its nuanced, restrained combat, without the impetus of making the most use of their money spent. Given its niche, the steady influx of newbies could also frustrate those who are deeply invested in its sim-like style, upsetting match balance. In the mean time, you can head over to the MechWarrior Online site to reserve your pilot name, lest some cretin swoop in and filch your moniker.
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The MechWarrior property is an oldie. Perhaps even unrecognizable to some, as there hasn’t been a proper entry in like ten years; I know it in name and concept only, having seen box art or occasional screens. Accordingl...

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Jenner mech revealed for MechWarrior Online


Jul 26
// Brett Zeidler
There's never enough mechs. It appears Piranha Games would agree, as they showed off the recently announced Jenner mech that'll appear in MechWarrior Online. Before we go any further, I'd like to just quote the trailer real ...
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First look at Caustic Valley map in MechWarrior Online


Jul 23
// Brett Zeidler
It's really, really f*cking hot outside. I don't know about you guys, but it's well over a hundred degrees around my neck of the woods and it has been all summer long. It may be a weird coincidence, but Piranha Games has rev...
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MechWarrior Online exists, I've come to terms with that


Jun 28
// Kyle MacGregor
With Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor now in the rear-view mirror and Hawken shining brightly on the horizon mechs seem to be experiencing something of a resurgence as of late. And now that your turret arms' ...
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MechWarrior Online initiates its founder's program


Jun 19
// Jordan Devore
As previously covered, MechWarrior Online is offering a multi-tier founder's program that gives players willing to throw down some cash up front early access to the free-to-play game and exclusive content. Starting today, you...

Review: Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor

Jun 19 // Chris Carter
Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor (Xbox 360 [reviewed])Developer: From SoftwarePublisher: CapcomReleased: June 19, 2012MSRP: $59.99 As previously stated, Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor is a Kinect-only joint that uses a controller in tandem with Microsoft's high-tech camera. Now, I have a decent size basement, and plenty of room to play Dance Central 2 with both my wife and I. To maximize my experience, I cleared out the room and placed a chair in the middle of it. I was able to calibrate my motion tracking sitting and standing settings in-game. So far, so good. Upon piloting my mech (which are called Vertical Tanks) for the first time however, the game's control issues become immediately evident. Simply put, the fact that they're required is absurd, because they absolutely do not need to be, for reasons that become clearer the further the game goes. First off, you have to sit up straight while playing (no slouching!). If you want to have less issues, this is non-negotiable. As you can imagine, it's very awkward to sit up straight constantly during gameplay -- especially when games are supposed to be a relaxation tool for some people. While this isn't a deal-breaker, pretty much everything else is. [embed]229691:44119:0[/embed] Posture aside, the main problem is switching between the game's two points of view. Basically you're in a jalopy tin-can mech with three other co-pilots in your default view, looking at your instrument panel -- you start every mission in this same manner. In order to actually see outside of your tank (to you know, move, or shoot anything), you have to put both of your hands in front of you to "grab" the panel and pull yourself forward. This motion never works consistently, and the controller itself (which the game says you need to hold, as both movement and firing are done from it) even blocks your hands from the sensor sometimes. This basically means that in the heat of battle, you're putting your hands in front of you back and forth constantly just to see/shoot/move, and go back to view your instruments. Once you make the motion to utilize the viewport, you don't have to specifically keep holding your hands forward, but you can easily move in/out of it accidentally, depending on where your hands are at all times -- so basically, not only do you need to sit up straight, but you need to babysit your hand placement as well. This wouldn't be so bad if it actually worked, and you didn't have to constantly move in and out of your viewing area to mess around with pointless switches and gadgets like the HVAC system. To make matters worse, a large AP shell will cause you to shake out of your viewport, which means more two-handed masturbation while fumbling a controller. The other big issue is that you are required to physically stand up for a lot of sections to pop open the hatch and periodically check out the action. This is a cool idea, but constantly has motion issues, and again, actually looking around is done with the controller, which can hinder the Kinect's sensors. It also means you need even more playing space, because the Kinect needs to detect your head before you're allowed to play the game (and every time you get up to use the bathroom or whatever, you have to recalibrate this). My breaking point came around Mission 5, which forces you to stand up, and scout for an enemy platoon. After about thirty seconds I found said enemy unit, and was told to "make sure I give the signal so my unit can start up the engines" -- except the game doesn't tell you what "the signal" is. I pressed every button, waved my arms around like an idiot, and even tried to vocalize something for the Kinect mic -- nothing. Eventually we are getting shot at, and then my engine-guy decides to start it up. After that, you have to "juice" the engine yourself by holding your right hand down, grabbing a lever, and pulling. Even though I had been doing this fine the first four missions, for some reason my Kinect shat itself and it wouldn't do it. After getting killed four times (having to wait for the enemy unit to show itself from the very beginning of the mission each time), I had to go do something else for a while. Eventually, I figured out the mission, and was able to continue on my way. But shortly after that, I had another similar experience that severely impaired my ability to enjoy the game. Kinect isn't entirely to blame here (as I've had plenty of good Kinect experiences since buying it at launch) as much as the design choices involved. Unfortunately, there is no voice control capability whatsoever; either to augment the experience, or provide an additional control scheme. To add insult to injury, you may be having issues as a result of a false positive when calibrating. To be clear; the calibration tool can be deceiving. Sometimes if you're sitting too far away, the game will correctly calibrate like nothing is wrong, leaving you to guess whether or not everything is fine. After you're unable to grab a pivotal lever and suffer an untimely and frustrating death because you're not immersed in the game's perfect conditions, you may not be inclined to keep playing. I could have fixed this entire scheme with one simple design philosophy -- allow the player to turn the Kinect off. Simply allow the left analog stick button-click to move the player in and out of the cockpit (a button that is not used, mind you), and by pressing the right analog stick, allow the player the option to select certain instruments -- done and dusted. Utilizing voice commands to bark orders at crew-members (thus not forcing you to wave your arms around) could have also helped immensely, and helped drive the "crew unity" point across much more effectively.  Even then, if you put all of this forced control nonsense aside, you're greeted with one of the most generic games of all time. All of SB:HA's characters are literally stereotypes, including the "aww sheeet!" token black guy and the "haha you must be a virgin... loser!" New York guy. Even the loading screens remind you of the shallow supporting cast, such as the "proud Native American who eventually embraced his heritage", or the "OCD young female". The story is fairly terrible (like a World War 3 Kojima fanfic gone wrong), and the art direction is non-existent, as it's basically a very simple "Army" aesthetic. The game attempts to have you "connect" with your crew through "fist bumping and hand shaking" Kinect motions, but it falls completely flat due to how unlikable pretty much every character in the game is. Also, these simple movements are often plagued with the above tracking problems. For those who feel like putting up with the game's controls, there is a full coop feature for up to three other players for some missions. By playing coop you're able to unlock new VT parts, so it's in your best interest to look for people as much as possible. Everyone pilots their own independent Vertical Tanks, and in the few coop sessions I was able to test, I had no latency issues. All of the above issues are quite a shame -- I liked the original Xbox title (giant controller and all), because it worked. All I had to do is push a button and it did what it needed to do. It was extremely non-user friendly and had some questionable design choices, but ultimately it was beatable, and unique for the time. Heavy Armor on the other hand isn't unique in any way. At its core, it's a basic mech game with a "realistic and gritty" feel to it that you've seen a million times before. Maybe at some point, the Kinect requirement can be patched out of it. Until then, piloting these Vertical Tanks even while sober may result in a loss of brain cells.
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If you were alive in 2002, you may remember Steel Battalion for the original Xbox. To many gamer's dismay, it required a special giant $200 controller and a priceless amount of mental fortitude, making it one of the most uniq...

E3: Hawken looks to be the king of free-to-play gaming

Jun 09 // Patrick Hancock
This was the first time that I was able to play Hawken’s most unique game type, Siege Mode. Two teams compete to destroy the other's base, but in order to accomplish that goal, an airship must be launched. In order to launch your airship towards the enemies’ base, you need to collect energy via stations throughout the map or by killing your enemies and depositing it in your base. You can only carry a limited amount of energy at any given time, and if you die, all of your energy drops. This creates for a nice sense of risk versus reward, considering if you die with maximum energy your enemy may receive a huge boost. In Siege Mode, teamwork is what really shines. Everyone I played with had headsets on, and we put them to very good use. While I can’t say for certain, it was pretty obvious that the other team was not using their headsets, considering how overwhelmingly one-sided the match was in our favor. Constantly traveling together, even in just pairs, and watching each other’s back helps secure the energy that you need to win the game. As someone who almost always games with buddies, Siege Mode is going to be my go-to game mode for sure. The free-for-all map that I played was very different from any Hawken map I had played prior. This new map had a ton of verticality built into it. In order to take advantage of this, I chose to play as a long-ranged light mech instead of my in-your-face brute force style that I usually go with. Being able to maneuver around the map relatively easily with a lighter class in conjunction with the deadly range made me a killing machine (literally). I was also equipped with an item I hadn’t seen in my last preview: the hologram. Placing the hologram down made a stationary image of me to distract any enemies on my tail. This ability saved my circuits just about every time I deployed it. Jason also told me that people thought the game was broken because they were pumping rounds into holograms with no results. People are silly. I asked Jason how they were approaching matchmaking for matches, since when a game fails to match you up against people of similar skill level, people can and will get frustrated quickly. He told me that the main system is still in the works, but they’re smart enough to use a multitude of statistics to match people up. While a player’s in-game level is a nice place to start, there’s nothing that says a level 5 player isn’t better than someone level 20. Jason brought up things like kill-death ratio and time played as other factors that may go into matchmaking. There will be both ranked and unranked matches in Hawken, where ranked matches affect your player level and unranked matches do not. Ranked matches will work as they do in most other games -- a quick match against (hopefully) similarly skilled opponents in a competition for experience. Unranked matches will use a server browser, something that gets PC gamers all giddy as soon as it is mentioned. I know I got goosebumps. I unfortunately didn’t get to play around with the mech customization, but from what Jason was telling me, it sounds pretty robust. You will be able to mix and match your mech’s look and feel, but something that was new to me was the addition of skill trees. Jason likened the skill trees in Hawken to those in Borderlands, where staying in one tree allows you to unlock one very special power at the very end. You don’t have to stay in the same skill tree, though -- you’re free to mix-and-match those just as your appearance. The amount of character slots isn’t determined yet, but I’d reckon that only a few will be free and more can be unlocked with real money. When I brought up the possibility of a Spectator Mode, I was very surprised to learn that Hawken is already planning to have a large focus on the eSports scene. As a large eSports fan, it really warmed my heart to see what is now one of my most anticipated games focus on competitive gaming. I talked up Dota2’s Spectator Mode features and just how easy it is to jump in and watch a game, so hopefully Hawken can take some ideas from Valve. Unfortunately, Spectator Mode and anything else eSports-focused may not make it into the launch build of the game, but will be a “priority” around the launch window. As someone who primarily plays games on the PC, Hawken was one of my favorite games of E3. My only concern is the same concern I have with every new free-to-play title: how slowly in-game currency is unlocked. If it's too slow, the game will start to feel like a grind and turn players away. If it's too fast, there's no incentive to use real-world money. I’m a firm believer of the free-to-play movement that’s sweeping over the industry when it strikes that balance, and Hawken looks to be headed in the right direction. Hawken will enter open beta on December 12th of this year. You can register for the beta here.
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When I got to check out the upcoming free-to-play mech game Hawken for PC at PAX East earlier this year, I was blown away. The developers nailed the most important part of the mech genre: the feel. If you don’t feel as ...

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MechWarrior Online founder's program detailed


May 22
// Jordan Devore
I know the free-to-play nature of MechWarrior Online turned some of us away early on, but the game looks rather good, visually speaking. Surely that and the brand are reason enough to check out the closed beta, which you can ...
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Gaikai to offer Hawken prior to its full launch


May 15
// Jordan Devore
This probably goes without saying, but, December isn't exactly right around the corner. As such, the wait for Hawken has and continues to be a test of my patience. Cloud gaming service Gaikai has reached an agreement with Met...

Preview: Kinect rules with Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor

May 11 // Ryan Perez
Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor (Xbox 360) Developer: From Software Publisher: Capcom Release: June 19, 2012 I need to get this out of the way right now: Heavy Armor is the first Kinect game I've ever played where I didn't feel like a complete idiot while doing so. No simple balancing act or acrobatic feat is required during the fun. In fact, the majority of the experience requires you to be comfortably seated. Fat people, rejoice, for we have secured our victory against active gaming. From Software was quick to state that their primary goal was to make a Kinect game for the hardcore audience, and push the add-on away from the regular mini-game titles that plague anything with motion controls. Their first principle: While hardcore gamers might be intrigued by the concept of gestures mimicking actions, the majority of their dedicated gaming lives have been experienced via the controller ... and there's no reason to completely get rid of that. In Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor, you control what is essentially a tank. In the not-so-distant future, silicon-consuming microbes have completely devoured the world's digital technology, reverting us back to the basic combustion tech of yesteryear. Your mech, unlike the peppy, agile ones we're used to seeing come out of Japan, controls more like a big, bulky, powerful machine actually would ... slowly and ungracefully. The developer put a lot of research into how the tanks of today feel and control, and it definitely shows. Your mech consists of several features with their own useful purpose, all accessed by very accurately associated gestures and movements. Reaching up and pulling down activates your periscope, which provides a nice alternative to the measly viewing window to your front. Fires may spark in the cockpit, which require you to reach to your side, open a small panel, and open the vents so you and your crew don't suffocate. Certain moments require a better full-scale view, so standing up will open your top hatch and pop your character out of the cockpit. Putting your hand to your face then activates your binoculars, which are easily controlled by the right thumb stick. Every command makes absolute sense, and never feels out of place or conflicting with the controller in your hand. That's the best thing about this game; while your tank contains a variety of Kinect-controlled features (camera monitor, engine and weapon controls, etc.), the general gameplay is actually manipulated by that thing in your hand that Peter Molyneux deemed a nuisance. Yep, when you're trudging the landscape and blowing away enemies, expect to do so like in any other shooter: with the 360 controller. For me, what stuck out the most when it came to the controls and features is that they're intuitive enough to actually lend themselves quite well to the action of the game. If you suck at console shooters (like yours truly), then chances are your blast window will take enough hits to become completely shot out. At this point, any intense action will often require you to reach forward, shut the viewing hatch, and then reach up for the periscope. Failing to do so will inevitably result in a bullet flying through the port and killing either you or one of your crew. Sometimes, during an intense battle, footsteps will be heard trotting atop your mech. Quick, sound action means standing up, opening the top hatch, pointing and shooting them. Slow action results in them opening your hatch, tossing in a sizzling grenade, and you hopefully grabbing and throwing it out the bottom hatch. The heat of battle provides several natural and scripted instances that make the entire experience feel very immersive, and can be designated as one of the few instances where motion controls actually aide in the immersion. I'm not a fan of Kinect, so every new game I play is like learning how to walk all over again. With Heavy Armor, though, everything quickly became second nature. This is all tied neatly into a bow by the game's World War II aesthetics. A quick look at the box art is a fine enough example, but to delve deeper, fellow soldiers don the iconic green, netted helmets of 1940s American soldiers, as well as the earthy toned attire. Even the mechs resemble beat-up Sherman tanks: faded and scuffed paint, parts falling off, and pure, raw metal. Overall, the game was definitely not what I was expecting. Considering the track record of Kinect games, I had a preconception of Heavy Armor before even seeing it at all. The moment I heard "is played while seated" and "controller," though, I was instantly intrigued. And then when I played it, well, I didn't want to stop. The bastards got me all hot and bothered with a sexy game, and didn't even have the decency to let me finish. If you own a Kinect (and I know some of you do), then there's little doubt it's experienced a bit of neglect. Or perhaps you love it do death and play it regularly, I don't know. If you are one of those people who slightly regrets their purchase, however -- I know plenty of you exist -- then you're definitely going to want to keep an eye on Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor. This time around, it doesn't cost you an arm and a leg, and doesn't come with a peripheral the size of a Shriner mini car.
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It's somewhat difficult to deny at this point that the whole motion controls movement has been a bit of a bust. Developers never quite figured out how to properly implement them into already established genres. The traditiona...


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