Kinect makes stinky 'Steel Battalion' stinkier

For my taste, "Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor" seems unplayable, just as a pebble is inedible. You can eat a pebble, but do you want to?

This Kinect game also underlines how much I hate Kinect. As you know, the Kinect is that $135-ish camera that reads your body's motions, then incorporates those motions into a game on your TV.

"Steel Battalion" is a battle game. You portray a tank commander driving a mech (a tank that walks on legs instead of wheels).

"Steel Battalion" has a first-person viewpoint. So the image you see on your TV screen is the image you would see through your eyes if your were sitting in a real tank. That's good.

You use your regular Xbox 360 hand controller to move the tank around and fire guns. That's fine.

Here's the Kinect part: You raise your real hands in the air, then the Kinect reads these hand motions to do such things as access your map, periscope and other minutiae inside your tank.

But the tank interior is packed with a lot of buttons and levers, and my Kinect does a hideous job of understanding which buttons and levers I am reaching for.

So when I try to place my hands in a shooting position to fire at rival tanks, the game usually thinks I'm trying to shift the speed stick, or close my blinds (yes, the blinds) or do something else.

Therefore, rival tanks kill me because I can't even make my stupid Kinect realize I'm trying to get into firing position, so I just bob on the battlefield, like a sitting duck wearing a blindfold.

This game, thus, seems improbable, dumb, clunky and slow. I feel as if the awfulness of this game and the awfulness of the Kinect go hand-in-hand.

Let's make something clear. I am 100 percent in favor of new technology. I love the idea of the Kinect. I loved its predecessor - the EyeToy created by rival Sony - a decade ago!

But no matter how much fiddling I do with the Kinect's sensors, the camera reacts slowly or unsatisfactorily too much of the time.

At least, that's been my experience with Kinect games. And that's why I think - and I say this out of love - the Kinect is a good idea muddled by inadequate execution.

As I said, I adored the EyeToy. It was a magnificent novelty item (and cheaper than my Kinect). But novelty items fade under dust. Microsoft crazily marketed (and priced) the Kinect as if it was not a novelty but an amazing device.

What I'm asking owners of the Kinect is this: How much dust has accumulated atop your amazing Kinect?

("Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor" by Capcom retails for $60 for Xbox 360 Kinect - Plays unfun due to the Kinect. Looks OK. Very challenging. Rated "M" for blood, gore, intense violence, sexual themes, strong language. Zero out of four stars.)

Contact Doug Elfman at He blogs at


Here are the Top 10 best-selling video games at full retail price, according to

1. "Pokemon Conquest" (Nintendo) for DS; rated "E"

2. "Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition" (Microsoft) for Xbox 360; rated "E 10+" for fantasy violence

3. "Kingdom Hearts 3D Dream Drop Distance Mark of Mastery Edition" (SquareEnix) pre-order for July 31 release for Nintendo 3DS; rating pending

4. "Call of Duty: Black Ops II" (Activision) pre-order for Nov. 13 release for Xbox 360; will be also available for PS 3, PC; rating pending

5. "LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes" (Warner Home Video Games) for Xbox 360; also available for PS 3, Wii, Vita, 3DS and DS; rated "E 10+" (cartoon violence)

6. "Call of Duty: Black Ops II" pre-order for Nov. 13 release for PS 3

7. "Halo 4 Limited Edition" (Microsoft) pre-order for Nov. 6 release for Xbox 360; rating pending

8. "Assassin's Creed III" (Ubisoft) pre-order for Oct. 30 release for Xbox 360; will be also available for PS 3 and PC; rating pending

9. "Halo 4" regular edition pre-order for Nov. 6 release for Xbox 360

10. "LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes" for PS 3

(Ratings: "E" for "Everyone"; "T" for "Teen"; "M" for "Mature 17+")