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Steel Battalion Essay (xbox)


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#1 Sketch

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Posted 05 February 2005 - 11:54 AM

I've been posting this on various places, including steelbattalion.org and thought Id start my first topic on rllmuk by posting it here too. Im basically seeing how far i can spread this. :blink:

Review/essay on SB, specifically focusing on the fear it causes in someone.
Mainly written for those who like it already, and quite long. I wrote it about a month ago.

Some parts have been fictionalised, others have been based on true accounts of other VT pilots from various forums, all have been meshed together to give a slightly exagerated point of view and nothing here should be taken too literally.

Try and keep this topic civil please. ;)

Enjoy

(MILD SPOILERS AHEAD)

**********************

Steel Battalion:

When critiquing and scoring a game, the number 10 should be used sparingly. It should be reserved only for those games which are undeniably revolutionary, or genre defining, or do something that make them landmark titles to be remembered forever.

SB is one those games deserving of full marks, a perfect score, and for a simple reason: at the time of its release it was arguably one of the most revolutionary, genre defining landmark titles in the history of gaming. Not because of it’s high priced controller, though that was connected to the reason. No, the biggest thing about SB is its unique saving mechanism and the way it is utilised in-game. While many have been quick to gloss over this all important factor, some even dismissing it as an annoying gimmick, the fact remains that it has been utilised in such a way as to be gut wrenchingly terrifying. Like no other game before it, not even the finest of the survival horror games, SB is capable of inducing extreme amounts of raw, almost mind destroying fear. It’s ability to create terror in the player is closely related to the way SB’s unique saving mechanism in the campaign mode makes it the most realistic war simulator of our time.

I do not wish to belittle anyone who has fought and served in the armed forces, or even seen the brutality of armed combat, for it is something so unimaginably awful that no one wants to experience it for real. But unlike any other form of war game, even realistic simulations such as Full Spectrum Warrior, SB is as close to the real thing as one is likely to find, despite putting the player in the role of multi-story walking war machines.

If you die in SB, you die for real. Your save game is erased and your post-mortem stats are recorded. You, as an avatar in this gaming world, ceases to exist, and along with your persona so does all your progress and hard work. Games have admittedly used death in emotional ways before. Which gaming veteran hasn’t shed a tear over losing Jops half way through Cannon Fodder while his grave stone haunts them until the end of the game? But never before have games designers taken the liberty of punishing the player by erasing all evidence of their hard work. The only way to avoid death is to hit eject in time, once the klaxon sounds. That klaxon sound will end up burned into the sub-conscious of all SB players, causing a “Pavlov’s Dogs” type of reaction where the adrenaline hikes, the eyes widen and whiten and ones hand instinctively lunges for the only switch that can save them. As a result, the further one gets and the more hours are clocked up in-game, the more fearful the possibility of death becomes. Restarting the first five missions on the easiest difficulty is painful enough, but being forced to begin anew after completing your 100th mission or having clocked over 50 hours in campaign mode is simply too much. Losing and dying no longer become options in open warfare once a certain point is reached. It is here that SB pulls you into its trenches and wont let you leave.

Even if you do not die, and manage to hit the eject button before the VT (Vertical Tank) explodes in a shower of flames and your body is burned alive, there is still the risk of relegation. Every player earns supply points with which to buy further VTs, lose a VT out in the field and you have buy a new one. Waste too many supply points and you will be unable to purchase anymore, thereby left unable to fight and relegated out of the war. For the player this is death in all but name, and should be equally feared.

Like so many things, the “tanker” experience begins slowly and with a light hearted tone to it. The excitement of assembly, your first training mission and the laughs that ensue after toppling a walking tank for the first time. But this innocence is soon lost and slowly gives way to the more familiar jaded and shell shocked gamer. After a few hours, the player has mastered the controls and the cockpit starts to feel cramped as every button and gear is mapped to memory. There is no solace or place to hide in the mission, the VT becomes a second skin and every cannon shot is felt. Soon after, common sense prevails and “Soy Sauce” becomes the official song of war as it ends up being played for every mission.

My first and only relegation happened on my initial play through. I took too many risks, made too many mistakes and mission nine ended up claiming all my VTs, all my supply points and eventually my military rank. Every player has at some point experienced their first such major loss, and if they have not, then they should. The experience is akin to being hit in the stomach at high impact. Blood rushes to the face, the mind clouds over, one begins feeling dizzy and speech become incoherent. All the blood, sweat and tears to come this far was in vain, and now everything is lost in the blinking of an eye. This birth by fire marks the beginning of the true SB pilot, since before this they are like children lost in a dream. From this point onwards they vow never to be humiliated in this way again, to never rush in where angels fear to tread and to never again end up facing the wrong end of a Vitzh’s gun. From this point they know the true horror of folly in combat, and whilst begrudgingly starting again, are ever wary of the Hai Shi Dao frontline.

After about ten hours, the player develops what VT veterans call the 100 yard stare. Their eyes glaze over once the cockpit hatch closes and the radio crackles to life as they give running commentary of events, halted only by loud screams of “We got HOSTILES! Enemy VT comin’ over the damn wire!”
Their brows twitch with every railgun blast and their hands shake with the roar of machine guns. Reloading the cannons becomes instinct and one learns to love chaff as if it were fresh underwear. Even so, the fear has not yet fully developed and early missions are approached with a certain macho bravado.

After twenty hours, the player refuses to leave the house and can be seen wearing the same sweat stained jungle camouflage vest for weeks on end, whilst around their foreheads are crude raggedy bandanas made from the sleeves of old T-shirts, pushing back their already spiked and greasy hair. By now the brow twitching and glazed look is uncontrollable following a heart stopping incident that nearly saw the player annihilated by encroaching enemy reinforcements, and every comprehensible sentence they say is followed by the words “out in the field, man.” By now precautions are taken for future missions. Tinned food and bottled water are stored close to “the equipment console” since it’s never known when leave will be given in order to have a proper meal with one’s family again. Experienced players have also admitted to keeping a portable latrine close to hand. Since the game cannot be paused, and much water is drunk to combat the dreaded tension felt whilst playing, there are times when a pilot simply has to go whilst they are on the go, so to speak.

After thirty hours, playing the so called “game” in an armchair with table is no longer good enough. The true SB player builds themselves a proper cockpit to sit in, using old cardboard boxes and tape. The TV is no longer used for such petty things as watching television, and is thereafter referred to as a VT combat monitor. Logos are painted on the side of the makeshift room filling cockpit, and the words “no fear” and “VT killer” are scrawled on its sides. The player also demands that everyone refer to them by rank only. By now, slight trepidation has festered into full stomach based dread, the kind that stops people from reloading their guns on night missions for fear of the noise alerting nearby enemy placements.

By fifty hours, all players should have passed the point of no return. The in-game boom-box has been replaced by a real life cassette player that pumps out “Flight of the Valkyrie” at full blast for 90 minutes before the tape needs to change sides. Many players develop a small ritual that is preformed before every mission start up: all buttons and switches are individually checked, a small mantra is chanted and the eject button casing has been removed. It is at this point in the campaign that the player no longer wants to participate in SB, not because the thrill of combat isn’t enjoyable, but because the risk of defeat is too great. Some players crack and refuse to play anything other than training ops or free mission mode. For everyone else, they have by now unlocked all the VT models and even rescued Corporal Arnold, thereby removing the weight limits on VTs. They deserve to be called master pilots for their proven high level of battle skill. Which is ironic, since despite this high level of skill, many such players refuse to enter higher level missions without at least three railgun attachments and a full compliment of re-supply choppers.

From here on out the player is engulfed by the game. In their sleep they have nightmares about Jaralacc ambushes and downed supply choppers. They no longer use or trust the radar since later levels have radar invisible enemies, instead relying on gut instinct for their bearings. They even resist the temptation to boot the game up, often it only brings flashbacks of past battles. Suddenly as clear as day, fleets of enemy attack choppers can be seen swooping in, reminding them of that dreaded mission twelve where they were once stranded, guns jammed and out of ammo as their buddies were cut up by enemy fire. Memories like these can create twitch players where any movement results in them firing their machine guns almost randomly, since you never know when those rocket carrying rebels might be hiding in the trees. In these cases, such as mission five, the flame thrower becomes your best friend as you burn everything to a crisp. The game can take over the player’s mind, even during menial daily tasks they can still see the in-game targeting reticule while they move and bop their head to the rhythm of a VT walking in 3rd gear.

Some reviewers have criticised the game for being too pre-scripted, too linear. That after completing the first set of the missions the others become repetitive. They are missing the point.

SB works on an entirely different mental and emotional level to any other videogame. The fear is palpable as you progress through the game thanks to the saving feature. It was this, and not the controller, that makes the game so chillingly realistic, indeed it was a stroke of genius to implement this feature, and is a good example of why Capcom are such an innovative development house. Without the fear of death, the possibility of the save game being erased, SB would have been maybe only one tenth the game it is now. It is because of this reason that SB could only have worked as well as it does being pre-scripted, as opposed to non-linear with adaptive enemy positioning and AI.

The game would have been rendered unplayable if the missions had any form of randomisation in them. On later missions which are tough enough anyway, the possibility of encountering a rogue Behemoth or hidden Jaralacc would have been simply too terrifying for all but the most battle hardened gamer. There is a point in gaming where realism must be left behind, where the limits cannot be pushed anymore since the game will lose all elements of enjoyment. A game is fun because it is a game, and while SB puts us in as real a situation as possible, that genuinely makes us fearful of our own demise, to go any further would be to cross the boundaries. The fear would no longer be bearable or enjoyable, and would only become unpleasant. Imagine if the attack chopper convoy from mission twelve suddenly swooped in whilst trying to destroy the battleship because it had called for reinforcements. Or if light enemy VTs could be sent in via an aerial drop at a moments notice. Already frayed nerves would snap under such unpredictable tension. Even with enemy layouts memorised some players have trouble focusing and starting the latest unlocked mission, since at the back of their mind is always the thought of what if they don’t make it back after this mission? Mission nine (the one I was relegated on), to a slight degree has randomised elements, with the position of the enemy occasionally changing and even higher level mechs showing up seemingly randomly. Even in this slight capacity it can frustrate, since if an enemy is not where one expects him to be, the mission becomes frantic as you run around wildly taking damage trying to find them, only to be taken out by a Behemoth that has randomly appeared or those who don’t show up on radar.

As well as fear, it work on other emotional levels as well. The mission where the player must hunt down and execute VT platoon deserters is particularly poignant. After a genuinely brutal mountain campaign, the commander informs you that some of the men couldn’t take the pressure anymore and went AWOL with the platoon’s VTs and recent armour and weapon upgrades. They were tracked to a local village, which they’d raid for supplies. These people were once in your platoon, your comrades. Soldiers just like you, and just like you, they were tired of the fighting and the pressures of war. They wanted out, but as the commander showed, the only way out of the platoon was in a body bag. This sets SB apart from other war games, since in all my years I can’t recollect many, or indeed any war games where you had to kill those on your own side and then get rid of any evidence. I have to admit that this mission left a bad taste in my mouth and it made me feel uneasy about future missions. It just didn’t feel right having to do that. But that is life and war, sometimes you are given orders that you do not want, and must carry out unpleasant actions because those higher up in rank say that you must.

With this, SB has to be commended. No other game has even come close to being able to generate such strong and overpowering emotions in a player, it quite literally grabs you by your nether regions and hooks you in. The emotional response is so strong that it can fundamentally affect the way you approach and play the game. Imagine how much more immersive and horrifying the Biohazard or Silent Hill series would be if your save was deleted after being eaten by the warped and deformed creatures found within. Or if in MoH games, dying meant restarting the whole campaign. It cannot be denied, for modern players who have become obsessed with perfect game stats and the ultimate save file, this game is a revolutionary wake up call. It has taken the very thing players hold so dearly and put it at risk, and then made you fight bitterly in order to keep it. Games such as Medal of Honour allow the player to save and die an unlimited amount of times before completing the game, where a simple medical kit can heal even the most severe of wounds. In such cases there is no cause and effect, there is no retribution for carelessness. In Steel Battalion this is not the case. No other game ever developed has been able to so accurately recreate the folly and stupidity that is human conflict, or more importantly the unpleasant emotions that go with it.


Written by
John Szczepaniak
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#2 Strafe

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Posted 05 February 2005 - 05:40 PM

Interesting. Spoiler warnings would't go amiss. Still, I've never played it before and now I really want to.
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#3 Paradigm

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Posted 05 February 2005 - 08:36 PM

There is so much wrong with that that if I layed into you you wouldn't like it. Some of it isn't even subjective differences.

10/10?

Bollocks.
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#4 Sketch

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Posted 05 February 2005 - 10:23 PM

Clearly you dont like Steel Battalion too much then.

Subjective, objective? Who gives a shit. I just wanted to write about the terror it causes, and therefor how close to real war it is.

I frankly see nothing wrong with it, in so far as what it sets out to achieve, it does achieve.

Im sorry, I forgot this forum is full of Edge readers, and there is no high minded pretensions in my writing, and I wasn't using their scoring method either.

Dont lay into me, I dont even know you. :(

But if you feel like critically disecting the essay, without resorting to flames, then I will gladly read it.
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#5 hobo

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Posted 06 February 2005 - 12:19 AM

Nice read. I should set up my SB and play it more I really should....dont think I could handle it though, peace out...
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#6 Paradigm

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Posted 06 February 2005 - 03:23 PM

I don't have to flame to lay into you, and I find it really amusing that you think I'm an Edge reader, and/or that I don't enjoy SB. If I could be bothered ripping it apart - and I can't, because you're so wrong that regardless of what I'd say you'd put your fingers in your ears - even if you had any points to concede you'd just shout "It's my opinion!" like everyone else who puts a review in here. Well, duh.

Suffice to say that such an overbearing thing as the woeful AI that SB has would make it nowhere near 10/10; whose scoring system are you using, exactly? It has loads wrong with it besides. Your "sets out" comment also makes no sense at all. If that were the be-all and end-all of a 10/10 game then a good chunk of the market would be getting 'perfect' scores. Spyro the Dragon is a nice example of a game which achieves what it sets out to be, but I wouldn't give it 10/10 - would you?

And claiming that it's as close to "real war" as you get is a mind-bogglingly stupid thing to say, not to mention ignorant and insulting. How would you know, have you ever been in one? Ridiculousness compounded by the fact you're playing in a game which places you in the seat of a giant robot.

This statement is easily my most hated faux pas in games reviewing. Every time I see it it makes me cringe because it's one of the most stupid things you could ever say. Real war is getting a bomb dropped on your house in a residential area 1,000 miles from the frontlines, so what would you know about it?
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#7 Sketch

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Posted 06 February 2005 - 06:27 PM

I knew one person would be offended at my comparisons to real war, and you're it! Here, have a prize! ;)

I doubt you've been in a real war either, and no I havent either.

What I was trying to get at, was you know all those horrible feelings you get in your gut when you think about your life being forced away from you? Such as being killed in conflict.

Well SB comes as close to inducing those feelings as watching a gritty war documentary, or hearing a terribly sad story regarding it.

It doesn't mimick those feelings exactly. Im sure I said it several times, it comes as close to those feelings.

And as for those feelings gotten from documentaries etc.
They will of course never be anywhere near as close to being in real conflict either.

See what Im getting at? At each movement along the path, innate feelings of fear get diluted slightly. I dont want it to be too realistic. I said that already, its strong enough as is, anymore realistic and the game would be unplayable.... Weren't you reading that?

It gets as closer than anything before it, and works because of this. Any closer and it would be too close to the bone.

I have already mentioned the fact that your are in giant mechs. Regardless it is a hell of a lot more realistic that some of the bloodless FPS war games Ive played. Utter tripe they were, bloodless, and they allowed me to continue after dying several times. Are those realistic? Bollocks are they.

Plus I have never played a mission in another war game about killing deserters. It might be because I havent played enough war games, but I found that to be a disturbing mission in SB.


Now onto the AI and the pre-scripted nature of it. I like the poor AI, too intelligent and it would become unpleasant. (I haven't played LoC so cant comment). Same goes for the pre-scripted nature of it. I like the same repetitive levels with stupid enemies, it doesnt stop me from freaking out when the klaxon sounds, it just means Im prepared with the chaff.


And again to defend myself.... I never meant SB did what it set out to do.
I was talking about my review! :P

In simple terms, my review set out to convey the fact that losing your save data is scary. If anything, its a review on that game design technique, not so much SB, and that I would be interested in certain other games replicating it... maybe.

My review does exactly what I want it to do.

-----


look, I dont think we got off on the wrong foot.
I think its a simple case of what I tried to convey has been misinterprited slightly.
If not, well then myeh! :D
I had fun writing the essay so am not too bothered about critiquing.
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#8 Paradigm

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Posted 06 February 2005 - 11:43 PM

I knew one person would be offended at my comparisons to real war, and you're it! Here, have a prize!


Ooh, the sarcasm of someone who knows he's written a load of rubbish. Here's what you said:

But if you feel like critically disecting the essay, without resorting to flames, then I will gladly read it.


Is it any wonder I picked up on the most specious bit of reasoning in the whole of your essay?

I doubt you've been in a real war either, and no I havent either.


No, but I don't go around claiming a videogame where you're a pilot of a vehicle that doesn't exist comes close to replicating the experience of 'war'.

What I was trying to get at, was you know all those horrible feelings you get in your gut when you think about your life being forced away from you? Such as being killed in conflict.

Well SB comes as close to inducing those feelings as watching a gritty war documentary, or hearing a terribly sad story regarding it.

It doesn't mimick those feelings exactly. Im sure I said it several times, it comes as close to those feelings.

And as for those feelings gotten from documentaries etc.
They will of course never be anywhere near as close to being in real conflict either.


No it doesn't. It doesn't at all. SB does the same thing as any other game which involves shooting people, or tanks, or other jets, whatever. The feeling is called 'tension'. It's tense because you lumber around for ten minutes, and then when you finally see someone you have a split second to react and get it right, otherwise you die. This is not replicating war, it's just tension. The feeling in your gut is "Oh dear, my virtual avatar is going to explode in a shower of spritely flames", which is markedly different from "Oh dear, I've been shot in my stomach, I'm bleeding profusely and I can see my internal organs, shock is forcing my body to convulse, I can't feel my legs, I'm blind in my right eye, I have a piercing pain from where the shrapnel entered my neck, and I've just seen my best friend die."

Tension is an everyday thing and it's what games are based on. It produces adrenaline and endorphins (when you get it right), and that's why you derive pleasure from it. It's a biological high. It's not war! It's nothing like it! Loads of games do the same thing! Anything from a flight combat simulator, to a tank simulator, to a submarine simulator - even to something as "non-realistic" as Counter-Strike: shoot your enemy before he/she shoots you. Is the moment in Counter-Strike knowing you're going to die like being in a war, knowing you're about to get shot. Or is it in fact completely different because you're living in an escapist fantasy world, and you're controlling a virtual avatar whilst at all times knowing your true surroundings?

The two are so far apart it's hard not to laugh every time someone claims another game comes close to 'war'. Your own example is Full Spectrum Warrior which itself as a game pales in comparison to Rainbow Six, itself now old hat, and said game is mediocre anyway. You sound like someone who is not just typing silly statements, but has hardly played a wide breadth of games, with a few choice console experiences being your only introduction to a breed of shooting games which create tension. As such your whole essay is a load of hyperbolic babble because you're excited at having found a new experience. If you were someone who'd actually played more than three games the sensation wouldn't be new, so all you'd have to assess the game on would be its inherent core qualities and what makes Steel Batallion SB. In which case you'd give the game a distinctly mediocre score, because it's just Mechwarrior with a fancy controller except with the added benefit of horrible AI.

It gets as closer than anything before it, and works because of this. Any closer and it would be too close to the bone.


Have you ever even played a game on the PC, the home of shooters that this is in the mould of? Spend five minutes with Operation Flashpoint and you'd see that SB has nothing in the tactical stakes compared to it, and has nothing near the visceral highs that OF achieves. When comparing the two as actual games in terms of layout, presentation, graphics, diverseness, structure etc. and SB's competition looks decidedly unreachable, and way beyond its remit.

Are those realistic?


What is realistic? SB isn't. No games can be realistic. No games can simulate war. If a game were realistic you'd sit in a foxhole for two weeks before anything happened. I don't think that's a really fun game. What's 'dying' got to do with anything? You still get to start the game all over again. If you get killed in war you don't get a second chance, another go at doing everything 'first time' (except you're just having a second go via the long way around). Ergo, SB isn't realistic. Care to produce any other terrible examples?

What games do is take some core things which might translate into fun in a virtual world (i.e. shooting things), and then adding 'features' which people construe as 'realistic', except all they are are game devices which add to the experience. This doesn't make the game 'more realistic' or 'close to war', it just makes the game more fun. As long as you are having fun, which is the point of a game, you are not playing something realistic. Because war isn't fun. At all. In any way. You are playing a game.

Now onto the AI and the pre-scripted nature of it. I like the poor AI, too intelligent and it would become unpleasant. (I haven't played LoC so cant comment). Same goes for the pre-scripted nature of it. I like the same repetitive levels with stupid enemies, it doesnt stop me from freaking out when the klaxon sounds, it just means Im prepared with the chaff.


So your enjoyment is nothing beyond the fact that you don't mind having the same repetitive horseshite shoved down your throat on every level? Do you, perchance, buy every incarnation of Fifa as well? Did you enjoy Driv3r too? Hilarious AI anomalies include them randomly rotating at 45 degrees on the spot, and just generally being absolutely awful. In the, what, two years between SB and LoC, Capcom didn't bother fixing any AI bugs. It was one of the laziest things I've ever seen in a computer game. And there are no excuses for stupid AI, because you're trying to justify it as working in the context of the game. No: the AI is stupid because it's poorly programmed, and it degrades the playing experience. Repetition is lack of imagination, and when the concept of the game has been around for a ridiculous amount of years, as SB's has, then it just gets incredibly tiring incredibly quickly.

Plus I have never played a mission in another war game about killing deserters. It might be because I havent played enough war games, but I found that to be a disturbing mission in SB


Call of Duty has a very graphic scene in which Russians are shot left right and centre for deserting, with the threat of it actually being used on you. I'm also surprised that you find this disturbing, considering it's a game. Didn't you have any troubles killing all those fuckin' Nazis, or them fuckin' gooks, or them fuckin' Japs, or anything else? Were all they evil men too? Or is it just a game where concepts do not represent reality?

In simple terms, my review set out to convey the fact that losing your save data is scary.


Holy shit, that's really realistic!

Picture the scene, Omaha beach, 6th June 1944. Private Miller and Captain Kuritsky are on a beach landing craft, slowly bobbing across the waves, behind the rest of the small armada heading for German-occupied French soil:

Private Miller: "Sir, I don't like this one bit. My knees are shakin', I can't focus, and my hands are too cold to grip my gun."

Captain Kuritsky: "I know, son, but you got to be a man. Ain't nothin' stoppin' us from takin' this damned country."

Private Miller: "Bu... but Sir, what about... what about my save game data? Ain't you ever thought of that? Don't that mean nothin' to yah, Sir? It's all I have! My mom Arlene, my sister Josie, and my blessed save game data!"

Captain Kuritsky: "Son, we all have feelings for our save game data, but we gotta face up to these opressors, and hope that should our save game data be wiped, it will have been for the finest cause mankind has ever known!"

Wow, I just came in my pants at the realism there.

I had fun writing the essay so am not too bothered about critiquing.


And, like most of the threads started in this folder, as soon as someone knocks your opinion you coil up like a hedgehog and shout "It's my opinion! I didn't write it for it to be critiqued! I don't care if you disagree!" You posted a review on a public internet forum, what did you expect? A... prize, perhaps?

:)
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#9 Sketch

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 11:07 AM

Stop whining about people using a defence of "its my opinion!"

From what I can remember I haven't done that yet, and I won't anytime soon. I've put this review all over the place, and so far your the only person who hasn't liked it. awww well, cant please 'em all.


Actually I laughed several times during that, at least you injected humour into the criticisms. Though I did only skim read it. (yeah, I am lazy, so sue me!)

And no, my big PC gaming experiences are only Deus Ex, HL1 and several older DOS games prior to 1993, but they probably dont count in this case. Ive never liked PC gaming.

So yup, my only experience of war games is consoles, which SB was designed for.

And as for you finding it funny that I assumed you were an edge reader, the same goes for you thinking I like FIFA or any GTA clone. Quite a sweeping statement regarding my preference for games, you'd probably be surprised at what I like games wise.


Finally, yes I regard SB as a totally new experience, not for the controller but the save deletion. MGS3 is rumoured to nearly have included such a thing, before Kojima's team persuaded him not to. Hell yeah its new, and my save files ARE precious to me. :D



Now, I must ask, do you actually like SB?
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#10 therearerules

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 12:30 PM

"If you die in SB, you die for real."

Well that would make the game a much more interesting proposition to be sure. But no. You lose your save game data, which is at best a little annoying, at worst very fucking annoying. Perhaps if when you died every single disc exploded so it would be impossible for you to ever play it again it would be approaching death. But I've played C64 games where you couldn't even save your progress. That's even more realistic than Steel Battalion, but at least they didn't try to disguise it as a gimmick.
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#11 Paradigm

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 01:50 PM

What therearerules said. It's silly to continue stating it's a wonderful feature, because 1. it could just as well be laziness, and 2. it's nothing new - it's a dressed-up gimmick.

Stop whining about people using a defence of "its my opinion!"

From what I can remember I haven't done that yet, and I won't anytime soon. I've put this review all over the place, and so far your the only person who hasn't liked it. awww well, cant please 'em all.


Read the first bit of that, then read the last. Notice a contradiction? It's the exact same thing, a throwaway comment at anyone who gives you criticism - "Oh well, you don't like it, but then again the people who like the game also like my review - and this wasn't written for you! And also I'm right so there."

Stop! Repeating! That! I don't care if the review was written for your own amusement, or for SB fans, or because you've found a new experience. It doesn't matter to me! You posted it on a public internet forum and as such your opinions, when not backed with satisfactory evidence supporting them, are going to come under scrutiny, whether it's me, therearerules, or anyone else. You don't need to keep justifying the reason for why your review is here, for God's sake.

And no, my big PC gaming experiences are only Deus Ex, HL1 and several older DOS games prior to 1993, but they probably dont count in this case. Ive never liked PC gaming.


Is that maybe because you've never bothered to actually play anything, or because everything you've tried you haven't liked? The whole reason I initially stated that there was so much wrong is because I could instantly tell you'd never touched any similar games on the PC. Just Mechwarrior for God's sake, the series has been going for years. The PC is the home for 'simulation' games, be it plane, tank, submarine, whatever. This feeling that you've been experiencing as 'new' has been around in 'realistic' PC games for 15 years+, from the dawn of the combat flight sim with polygon graphics. So as much as you love your own opinion, it's wrong. Because SB isn't the first game to produce this effect, and it hasn't done it perfectly or however else you want to term it: how on earth can you say that a game has reached perfection in its field when you've never touched any of its competition, or any of the games it's taken inspiration from?

So yup, my only experience of war games is consoles, which SB was designed for.


As above, I hate to break it to you but war games are more 'realistic' (and I keep doing that because this is a poor word that people use to describe them) on the PC, always have been, and probably always will be. Consoles are very dry for decent FPS', and I remember laughing my head off when my friends were telling me that when Timesplitters came out for the PS2 it was the best shooting game they'd ever played. When I read your essay this memory came to the forefront of my brain and I chuckled again. Also, how was SB designed for a console? You could plug the controller into a PC and it wouldn't be any different.

And as for you finding it funny that I assumed you were an edge reader, the same goes for you thinking I like FIFA or any GTA clone. Quite a sweeping statement regarding my preference for games, you'd probably be surprised at what I like games wise.


Well, considering your comment was serious, and mine was facetious, picking up on you stating that you enjoyed repetition in SB...

Finally, yes I regard SB as a totally new experience, not for the controller but the save deletion. MGS3 is rumoured to nearly have included such a thing, before Kojima's team persuaded him not to. Hell yeah its new, and my save files ARE precious to me.


It's not new though, is it? Have you never played a game where you get one go at completing all the levels? They've just decided to go down the 'old-skool' route and make it rock hard for the player, and slapping a tag on it to say that in fact it's a revolutionary feature. Er, no, it's not. Again, what therearerules said.

Now, I must ask, do you actually like SB?


If you hadn't skim read all my waffle (:angry:) you'd see that I actually said I like SB. You get a huge controller and you stomp about and shoot things. The core of the game is fun. But that doesn't disguise the fact that it has a myriad of flaws, and its sequel is terribly, terribly lazy with pretty crap netcode. And, as above, it's not a new experience, a new sensation, a new emotion, a new game which produces the highest levels of tension, or a new pinnacle in games. Which, overall, makes the game likeable but decidedly average.
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#12 Sketch

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 03:01 PM

I resent your accusations that I haven't played many games. Your just taking cheap shots at me personally to criticise the piece.

Try and be civil

I dont want to start this into a comparison of how many games we've played, but:
Would you find it difficult to believe that in actual fact I've played probably well over a thousand different titles on original hardware, and gotten considerably far in them? My Famicom games playing alone comes close to the 300 game mark. (that I've owned and gotten far in, as opposed to emulation)

Contrary to what you may think, I have experienced a wide variety of different console games.



As for everything else said, well where can we possibly take this discussion apart from leaving it there? I won't budge on my opinions of the game or my own work, since I think it's some of the best damned stuff I've written. And yeah, thats probably a throw away defence too, but what did you expect? That you'd convert me on this subject? :angry:
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#13 Plums

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 03:26 PM

The feeling in your gut is "Oh dear, my virtual avatar is going to explode in a shower of spritely flames", which is markedly different from "Oh dear, I've been shot in my stomach, I'm bleeding profusely and I can see my internal organs, shock is forcing my body to convulse, I can't feel my legs, I'm blind in my right eye, I have a piercing pain from where the shrapnel entered my neck, and I've just seen my best friend die."


Thank you!
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#14 Paradigm

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 06:09 PM

I resent your accusations that I haven't played many games. Your just taking cheap shots at me personally to criticise the piece.


What? You just said up the thread that you "Don't like the PC" and that you've only ever played about 3 games on the format. You're talking about the platform that is the breeding ground for all simulation games which Steel Batallion is in the vein of. If I reviewed a mediocre shoot-em-up and declared it the best game of all time without ever having played anything made by Treasure, or Gradius, or R-Type, or Axelay, or the myriad of other top games, wouldn't that make my opinion invalid, what with me actually having no clue about the genre?

The proof of the pudding, etc. When you can come up with an example of what SB does that's new I'll be happy to listen to you, but so far you've produced absolutely 0 evidence.

Would you find it difficult to believe that in actual fact I've played probably well over a thousand different titles on original hardware, and gotten considerably far in them? My Famicom games playing alone comes close to the 300 game mark. (that I've owned and gotten far in, as opposed to emulation)


I'm sorry, what does playing Mario have to do with declaring that Steel Batallion is the best example of its type, and achieves perfection? Here's what: nothing.

Contrary to what you may think, I have experienced a wide variety of different console games.


Dum dum dum dum! I'm sure you could name a whole wealth of realistic flight combat sims, tank sims, submarine sims that have appeared on your consoles then? Or, in fact, can you not because all the classics were on PC (and for a few combat flight sims they were available on the Amiga, which also isn't a console).

I won't budge on my opinions of the game or my own work, since I think it's some of the best damned stuff I've written. And yeah, thats probably a throw away defence too, but what did you expect? That you'd convert me on this subject?


And, like I said from the outset of the thread, you're just like everyone else who posts a review on this forum: "My work is perfect, my opinion is correct, the writing is flawless and regardless of what you'll say I'll never change my mind."

What did I expect? Well even if I did change your mind you'd never admit it, and I knew that from the first post. That doesn't stop me from actually showing how wrong you are though, and making people like Plums have a good laugh in the process.
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#15 Monkichi 2.0

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Posted 13 February 2005 - 07:45 PM

Christ, I don't believe someone actualy compared losing your save file to being in a war. I know it was probably not meant literally but still, it's pretty insulting.

It's a mediocre game made better than average by virtue of having a cool controller. The display area it too small, the draw distance is bad, the AI is laughable and the save-file-delete is annoying at best. It's still worth playing for the experience, but let's not kid ourselves, it's about as close to real war as Mario Kart is to Formula One.
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#16 Sketch

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Posted 14 February 2005 - 10:08 PM

I am forever amazed at people not liking the save deletion feature.

I would honestly say, that for me, it is at least half of the enjoyment.
More probably. The whole essay was actually me proclaiming how much I like the save deletion feature.

I seriously dont know why people hate it.

MGS3 nearly had the same thing implemented!

ahhh well, thats preferences for you.



In the meantime, I say viva la save deletion! And heres a toast so that all games in future include it. Sin gle handedly the most ingenious design element this generation, BAR NONE!

It rocks people, really it does.
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#17 therearerules

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Posted 15 February 2005 - 10:00 AM

Then why don't you, to increase your enjoyment of EVERY game, simply delete all your save game data if you die?

Hell Pokemon Ruby did it better, you could only save when you quit, and when you reloaded your save was deleted. Put THAT in your save pipe and smoke it.
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#18 Paradigm

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Posted 16 February 2005 - 12:04 AM

I am forever amazed at people not liking the save deletion feature.

I would honestly say, that for me, it is at least half of the enjoyment.
More probably. The whole essay was actually me proclaiming how much I like the save deletion feature.

I seriously dont know why people hate it.

MGS3 nearly had the same thing implemented!

ahhh well, thats preferences for you.



In the meantime, I say viva la save deletion! And heres a toast so that all games in future include it. Sin gle handedly the most ingenious design element this generation, BAR NONE!

It rocks people, really it does.

I am forever amazed at why someone can extrapolate, from these posts, what the entire forum believes. Even when there is no general consensus that the save game deletion feature is a bad idea. Because I/other people disagree it's wonderfully innovative we hate it? Jesus. Stop putting words in people's mouths.

I hope your last comment isn't serious by the way. There's a whole list of things that are more ingenious (especially considering save game deletion/variants thereof have been around for years), not least the implementation of realistic physics. Which will be a fair proportion of games in the future; save game deletion will not.
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#19 Sketch

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Posted 17 February 2005 - 05:26 PM

Ive learned a valuable lesson here:

Preach only to the converted.


I've gone and read all the positive feedback this has recieved in other places, and not only has it strengthened my convictions, but it makes writing so much more worthwhile. They really understand it, one person even said they nearly wept, commenting that it was almost poetic in some places. Another spoke their own harrowing experiences. My god, I nearly wept myself. The common bond that forms between VT veterans, my god, its beautiful. :o


PHEW! Talke about a headrush, I need to sit down, I think I've gone giddy.
Damn, now thats a buzz!

;)

Anyway, say what you like, I realise now this was the worng forum to post it in.
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#20 Paradigm

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Posted 17 February 2005 - 07:38 PM

:o
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#21 Preacher

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Posted 18 February 2005 - 06:48 AM

"If you die in SB, you die for real."

Well that would make the game a much more interesting proposition to be sure.

That'd take some getting used to...













...oh.
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#22 Mr. Pin?

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Posted 21 February 2005 - 05:27 PM

Ive learned a valuable lesson here:

Preach only to the converted.


I've gone and read all the positive feedback this has recieved in other places, and not only has it strengthened my convictions, but it makes writing so much more worthwhile. They really understand it, one person even said they nearly wept, commenting that it was almost poetic in some places. Another spoke their own harrowing experiences. My god, I nearly wept myself. The common bond that forms between VT veterans, my god, its beautiful. :P


PHEW! Talke about a headrush, I need to sit down, I think I've gone giddy.
Damn, now thats a buzz!

:blink:

Anyway, say what you like, I realise now this was the worng forum to post it in.

If you'd posted it in the correct section (Discussion, I reckon) you may have found more people willing to support your cause....

Or been ripped to shreds even more brutally!

:D
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#23 Disciple

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Posted 24 February 2005 - 01:23 PM

NTSC-UK went mental for this. I truly do not know why. To be fair I've not played it but...is it really one of the best games ever? EVER?

I'd like to know if this fellow has ever played Ultima online, 1998. Because if someone killed you in that, and stole all your posession...well that was very harsh.
Personally I loved the thrill. Numerous times I was chased by the now infamous "PKs" (Player Killers), but I always got away.
Why? I lead a cautious existence, eeking out a living selling reagents in a shop, and scamming the occasional punter.

So it wasn't "total death" in UO but it was certainly an edgy experience.

More pertinantly - Diablo 2 had servers where by if your character died, they died. You could have a level 22 character, who'd get killed - and your hours of online time would be wiped.

So really, not a wholly revolutionary idea.
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#24 spaceyjase

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Posted 24 February 2005 - 03:30 PM

The whole death thing is interesting in Steel Battalion but I don't think it is quite as good as it is made out to be. Sure, other games have done it but not quite in the same way as SB. The whole problem here is you don't really loose that much beyond your mission progress. So, start again. And once you're over that, you start to get into the game proper. It is always there in the back of your mind but the whole game quickly becomes a test of your own skill over the risk/reward of "death", especially much later in the game when you have enough combat/supply points to carelessly take risks without fear of ejection. In fact, I say the fear of running out of supply points is a worst scenario, putting more pressure on a player.

It isn't the "best game ever" but in terms of defining the mecha-simulator genre, it is the best of a relatively small bunch. The guy who wrote the NTSC-uk review is often fairly enthusiastic about his games, so read into that what you will. I'm not slating John's essay though, which is good but the whole death thing doesn't really matter. But then again, I've not had to experience it :D

That said, the online expansion does have an even more ever-present feel of death due to the way the war continues on, regardless of your actual presence in the game. If you die here, everything is lost and as a n00b-pilot, you have an uphill struggle to regain lost assets and VTs. Many players, once they "die", have not returned to the game. Sour grapes, huh?

I reviewed Line of Contact for NTSC-uk, go have a read.
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