Powered armor (also called CAS or Combat Armored Suits) has appeared in a wide variety of fiction, beginning with E. E. Smith's Lensman series in 1937. Since then, it has featured in science fiction movies and literature, comic books, video games, and tabletop role-playing games. One of the most famous early versions was Robert A. Heinlein's 1959 novel Starship Troopers, which can be seen as spawning the entire sub-genre concept of military "powered armor."[1][2]

In addition to heightened strength and protection provided by the exoskeleton, other popular features include internal life support for hostile environments, protection from environmental hazards such as radiation and vacuum, weapons targeting systems, firearms affixed directly to the suit itself, and transportation mechanisms that allow the wearer to fly, make giant leaps, or speed by on ground.

In some portrayals of powered armor, the suit is not much larger than a human. These depictions can be described as a battlesuit with mechanical and electronic mechanisms designed to augment the wearer's abilities. Other power armors are portrayed as being much larger, more like a bipedal vehicle the size of a tank or much larger. These latter are frequently termed Mecha, from the Japanese “メカ” (meka), an adaptation of the English “mechanical”. The line between mecha and power armor is necessarily vague. The usual distinction is that powered armor is form-fitting and worn; mecha have cockpits and are driven,[3] or that powered exoskeletons augment the user's natural abilities, whilst mechas replace them entirely. However, the line between the two can be difficult to determine at times, especially considering that force feedback systems are often included for delicate maneuvers. Even in a larger mecha meant to be driven like a walking tank rather than worn, a realistic control system would have to be either cybernetic or form-fitting[citation needed]: In the BattleTech universe, a cybernetic system is necessary to provide a sense of balance.

Another variation is Bio-Armour, which produces similar strength with organic technology (e.g. Peter F. Hamilton's novel Fallen Dragon, Jim Shooter's X-O Manowar comic book, and the Bio Booster Armor Guyver Japanese manga series).

Most power armors carry an on-board, self-sufficient power source. Masamune Shirow's Landmates in Appleseed used simple internal combustion engines installed into the thigh assembly of the armor. The "hardsuits" of Bubblegum Crisis 2040 have a battery the size of an American football between their shoulderblades, though the functionality is never described. Still, more fantastic power sources have been introduced, for example, in Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2 and Halo 3 the Master Chief's MJOLNIR armor is powered by miniaturized fusion power reactors. The Power Armor in the Fallout series, which is usually worn by the Brotherhood of Steel, a techno-religious group, is also described as being fueled by fusion power cells. In Privateer Press' Iron Kingdoms setting, a steam boiler powers an arcane conversion engine, which ultimately powers the suit. Similarly, in Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, the suits are powered by single-celled organisms cultured in Ovo Packs while in the "Metroid" series Samus Aran's armor (pictured below) is alien in design and origin and unknown as to how it functions.

Super-powered armor suits (super-suits) also appear in fiction. Super-suits have fantastic abilities and powers that come from the suits being unique or very rare as compared to "basic" powered armor (for example, Booster Gold's suit which does not even look like powered armor). Super-suits tend to be used in settings with superheroes, such as Iron Man.

In literature Edit

  • E. E. Smith's Lensman series, (published from 1937 onwards), contains the earliest conceptualization of personal armour with both defensive and offensive capabilities for all environments.
  • Another early example were the Fat Man underwater suits (with mechanical pantograph arms and a propulsion system), which debuted in Tom Swift and His Jetmarine (1954).
  • The novel Starship Troopers (1959) details the tactics involved with powered armor. It was also the first work of fiction that widely popularized the concept. The first film adaptation was a Japanese OVA, Uchu no Senshi, produced by Sunrise with mechanical designs by Studio Nue. The later Hollywood version, however, did not use powered armor, opting instead for the Troopers to use simple (but clearly ineffective) body armor. In contrast, the 1999 television adaptation remained far more faithful to Heinlein's original vision.
  • Gregory Benford's Great Sky River (1987) includes exoskeleton or "exskell" usage.[4]
  • Powered exoskeletons with arc weapons are used by inhabitants of Northworld in the Northworld Trilogy by David Drake
  • Standard issue battle armor in Joe Haldeman's book The Forever War is an exoskeleton using logarithmic force amplification.
  • Powered armor operated remotely by telepresence also feature in Haldeman's Forever Peace (which shares themes with the previous The Forever War but is not a sequel in terms of setting and characters).
  • The security troops of the interstellar company Zantiu-Braun are described as wearing biological "Skin" armour in Peter Hamilton's novel Fallen Dragon.
  • Very advanced suits based on nanotechnology and a very advanced computer assistance system are depicted in Legacy of the Aldenata by John Ringo. These suits are notable for being one of an extremely few designs that recognise traditional transparent 'eyes' in the helmet of the armour as being a weakness. These suits are often regarded as the spiritual descendants of Robert A Heinlein's Mobile Infantry Marauder, Command and Scout suits and in fact borrow similar terminology. These are termed ACS instead of CAS.John Ringo also has Wyrvern combat suits in The Dreen War series.
  • In the Empire of Man series, also by John Ringo, the Empress's Own (as well as Imperial Marines and at least one alien race) use incredibly powerful and almost indestructible armored combat suits, which, among other combat enhancements, allow the wearers to use vehicle class weapons as personal arms.
  • Armor by John Steakley, who admits that the work was inspired by Starship Troopers, features powered battle armor.
  • C. J. Cherryh's novel Rimrunners deals partly with the tactical and technical details of armored marines deployed from large interstellar carriers for boarding actions and station-taking.
  • Dale Brown uses characters in many of his novels that wear a Tin man suit, which is a thin material that has an electric charge that flows though it to protect the user from all but very large explosions and very large caliber rounds. He also writes about CID units in his book, Act of War, which are Cybernetic Infantry Devices which are approximately 9 feet tall.
  • In Neal Stephenson's novel The Diamond Age, nanotech-derived Hoplite suits are used by modern infantry, and are full-body suits of powered armor.
  • In Iain M Banks's novel The Player of Games, a veteran wearing life-support powered body armor is forced to commit murder when the control systems of his suit are taken over from outside.
  • In David Weber's Honorverse and Mutineers' Moon universe, military units - in addition to unpowered 'skin' suits - use powered armour hardsuits for combat operations. In addition in his books Path of the Fury and the later expansion In Fury Born, both Imperial Marines and the elite Drop Commandos of the Imperial Cadre use powered armour suits.
  • In the novel Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, the "armies" in battle school use a version of a powered exoskeleton for mock battles; however these did not offer any advantages and simply froze soldiers who were "shot".
  • Manfac by Martin Caidin involves a disabled character who is given a new life through a powered exoskeleton given a human experience. The novel includes a realistic discussion of the force feedback issues involved in amplifying force and speed from a given human movement.
  • In Greg Bear's novel Moving Mars, thick reactive nano armor was used to protect Martian leaders during an attack by earth from projectiles and made wearers dangerous to all escort personnel.
  • In the science fiction Nova Refuge universe created by Justin R. Stebbins (with the assistance of his younger brother, Ryan C. Stebbins, and sister, Maegan A. Stebbins) the Enomeg super-soldiers of Xarkon and the Immortal Soldiers of Victory both wear special exoskeletons, as seen in the series' first published novel, Nova Refuge: The Legend of Saber-Scorpion, Book 1: Warrior Born.
  • In the military science fiction bestseller Dominant Species by Michael E. Marks in which a Marine Rapid Assault Team employs powered armor as a force multiplier to conduct high-risk confined space special operations.

In comics Edit

In television and film Edit

  • In the movie Aliens (1986), mechanized exosuits (actually Caterpillar Power Loaders P-5000[5]) are used in loading cargo for spaceships, as well as Ripley's duel with the queen alien.[6] A military version of this loader can be seen in the video game Aliens versus Predator 2, and a more powerful version is present in the video game Aliens versus Predator: Extinction.
  • In the 1987 TV series Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future Jonathan Power (Dunigan), developed Power Suits, which transform each soldier into a specialized one-man attack force.
  • In the 1990 TV series Super Force, Astronaut Zachary Stone (Ken Olandt) wear a modified prototype suit of space armor created by F.X. Spinner (Larry B. Scott), a research scientist at Hungerford Industries.
  • The Hardman gear Raimi wears in the movie Death Machine (1994).
  • In the 1994 TV series M.A.N.T.I.S. (Mechanically Augmented Neuro-Transmitter Interactive System) Dr. Miles Hawkins, a paralyzed scientist portrayed by Carl Lumbly, creates a super-powered exoskeleton in order to walk again, but ends up using it for crimefighting.
  • In the 2000 TV series Dark Angel, Logan "Eyes Only" Cale suffers a spinal injury that leaves him paralyzed from the waist down. He eventually acquires a partial exoskeleton which not only restores his mobility but permits him to run at Olympic speeds and jump over two-story walls.
  • In the 2010 TV series Sym-Bionic Titan, two teens from another world, Lance and Ilana, each have a watch-like device that can transform into giant full coverage exoskeletons around the wearer. These machines are also capable of combining with a bio-cybernetic robot named Octus to become a giant robot, but they resemble one-manned mecha rather than wearable exosuits.
  • The Armored Personnel Units seen in the movie Matrix Revolutions (2003), although these walk the line between powered armor and mecha.
  • A prime example of powered armor in Japanese live action shows is the Metal Hero series, starting with Space Sheriff Gavan, and followed by Sharivan, Shaider, Juspion, Spielban and more.
  • Many of the Kamen Rider series use more complex, mechanical looking armours that seem to be powered by an unknown source.
  • The Muscle Gear, used by the Space Criminals Alienizer in the 2004 Super Sentai series Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger, is a powered exoskeleton that reflects all attacks and is loaded with weapons.
  • In the Animatrix segment The Second Renaissance part 2, human forces in the first Man-Machine War use powered armor which is a more sophisticated ancestor of the armor used in Matrix Revolutions.
  • In the 2005 film Sky High, Gwen Grayson/Royal Pain uses an armored battlesuit.
  • The 2008 film adaptation of Iron Man features three versions of the titular hero's armour: initially Tony Stark creates a rather crude and bulky suit to escape a hostage situation, using parts salvaged from a supply of weapons. This "Mark I" suit is equipped with flamethrowers and manually-ignited rockets, and also possesses limited VTOL flight capability. Due to its improvised nature however, it's far from perfect: much of its mechanics are exposed to fire, especially from behind, and very careful numbering of steps on Stark's part indicates a very limited operation span. Upon returning to the US, Stark goes back to the drawing board and creates the "Mark II" suit. This suit is much sleeker and more refined, and its aerial mobility is vastly improved. It has its own flaws, though, most notably an "icing problem": upon reaching too high an altitude, the suit is frozen over with a layer of ice and loses power, causing it to plummet back to Earth. Based on the Mark II, Stark creates creates the "Mark III" suit. This model is visually similar to the Mark II, except coloured in the iconic gold and "hot-rod red" colour scheme rather than plain silver. Along with Iron Man's armour, the movie also depicts a fourth suit of armour, built in secret by Obadiah Stane based on the salvaged remains of the Mark I suit. Compared to Stark's suits, the "Iron Monger" armour is much larger, bordering on monstrous, and carries a wrist-mounted gatling gun. The exhaust from the aerial motor is much dirtier than that of Iron Man's armour, and Stane is dependent on an electronic targeting system to see. It also suffers from the icing problem that the Mark II suffered from.
  • In the 2009 film District 9, the aliens possess heavily armed exoskeletons which can only be piloted by their species due to their required DNA. Like the Matrix Revolutions APUs, these suits border on one-manned mecha as well, rather than wearable exosuits.
  • In the 2009 film G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, The Joes provide Delta 6 Accelerator Suits to Duke and Ripcord.
  • In the 2009 film Avatar, the human security force uses full coverage exoskeletons called AMPs with life support systems and separate large scale weapons that can be used by the suit wearer, but these too more closely resemble one-manned mecha, rather than wearable exosuits.

In animation Edit

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  • The Zentraedi male and female powered armors from Robotech (the English adaptation of the Japanese Macross TV anime series) feature energy and projectile weaponry with both atmospheric and space travel capabilities. The third "chapter" of Robotech, The New Generation, prominently features Cyclones, motorcycles that can transform into powered armor (adapted from the Japanese original Genesis Climber Mospeada).
  • The EX-Gear flight suits from Macross Frontier are a form of powered armor with flight capability (both atmospheric and space capable) The flight suit also converts to the control mechanism for the newer VF-25 series fighters.
  • In the CGI cartoon ReBoot, Matrix and AndrAIa wear yellow exosuits similar to the ones from the movie Aliens.
  • In the American action cartoon series Centurions, the Centurions used a uniform like powered exoframes with several hard points, which enabled them to be with merged with multiple weapon systems.
  • Exoskeletal vehicles named "E-frames" were one of the central aspects of the American animated television series Exosquad.
  • The Disney series Gargoyles has a number of appearances of David Xanatos, the series' main antagonist, using a flight-capable powered exoskeleton closely resembling the look of the Manhattan Clan's leader Goliath.
  • In the anime series Bubblegum Crisis the heroines use a type of powered armor known as a "Hard Suit" which deviates from the normal look of rugged military issue armor and keeps a more feminine appearance.
  • Exoskeletal suits named "EMACS" (Energized Monster Armed Containment Suit) or simply power suits were a standard weapon in the animated cartoon series Monster Force.
  • In The Transformers: The Movie (1986), as well as its 3rd and 4th seasons and Japanese spin-offs (TF: Super God Masterforce in particular), "exo-suits" were created, allowing humanoid supporting characters to transform alongside their Autobot and Decepticon counterparts. This technology was further used to allow humans to combine with Transformers, resulting in the Headmasters, Targetmasters, and Powermasters.
  • Many Japanese animation featuring mechanical objects also have humans controlling gigantic exoskeletons, such as The Vision of Escaflowne, Full Metal Panic, Bubblegum Crisis, Tekkaman Blade, Gundam or Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. Although many of these are not exactly exoskeletons because of their non-humanoid forms, the main principle is identical. (See below.) The term "mobile suit" in the Mobile Suit Gundam series in particular, is believed to derived directly from the Mobile Infantry powered suits of Starship Troopers.
  • The CGI television series Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles (based on the Heinlein novel) made extensive use of power armor, though somewhat different from the armor in the original book.
  • In Episode 11 of Batman Beyond ("Disappearing Inque"), Bruce Wayne shows Terry McGinnis the powered armor exoskeleton he used briefly before creating the more advanced Powered Batsuit. The exoskeleton is mostly silver, with a black trim on the gauntlets and helmet, and the familiar shape of the Batman logo tapering from the neck across the chest.
  • In Episode 2 of The Batman, Batman makes a robotic exoskeleton called "the bat bot" to defeat Bane. It reappeared again in Episode 6 when Catwoman accidentally made it attack Bruce Wayne and in episode 33 when Batgirl piloted it against a joker with Bane's Venom.
  • In the 1st Danny Phantom TV-Movie ("Reign Storm"), Jack and Maddie Fenton build a powered armor exosuit capable of combating any powerful ghost, but its power proved that prolong usage of the suit could weaken and even kill the user. Danny used the suit to defeat Pariah Dark, the ghost king and Vlad Masters/Plasmius stole it at the end, but it reappeared again in the episode "Secret Weapons" where Vlad had made improvements to it, but at the end of the episode, Danny and Jazz set it to self-destruct and was destroyed.
  • In Karas (anime) , The Heroes able to transform to an armored warrior, the armor is animated by human souls infused into them and it also Capable of transforming into automobiles and aircraft.

In video games Edit

  • In Star Warrior, the player is a member of the Furies, a mercenary group that uses small groups of operatives in powered armor.
  • In Earthworm Jim, Earthworm Jim uses the Ultra-high-tech-indestructible-super-space-cyber-suit which responds to his psychic commands, allowing him to progress through the game.
  • In Terra Nova: Strike Force Centauri, a 1st person tactical game by Looking Glass Studios, powered armor is the centerpiece, featuring many types of powered armor and loadout combinations. Among those found in electronic games, Terra Nova's powered armor suits are also the ones most similar to the drop suits and powered armor found in Robert Heinlein's novel, Starship Troopers.
  • In Sega's ESWAT series, the members of the Cyber Police force is equipped with a cyber suit after achieving a Chief rank. Its described by the game as a "long-range supersonic powered suit" which contains two Turbo-Booster Thrusters, and provides extra ammunition and protection.
  • The Hazardous Environment (HEV) Suits of Gordon Freeman, Gina Cross and Colette Green from the Half-Life series are exoskeletons[citation needed] originally designed for working with hazardous materials, exploration and possibly combat due its projectile resistant active armour and weapons recognition systems. The suits worn by them are all said to be Mark IV, with Freeman receiving an upgraded Mark V in Half-Life 2. HEV armor chargers in Half-Life had a trademark sign on them, implying that HEV suits are possibly manufactured by a civil organization. In addition, the Combine is likely to equip their transhuman soldiers with exoskeletons worn under their uniforms.
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  • The Half-Life mod known as Natural Selection features a full armor suit, an advanced technology that Marines can acquire, which absorbs much damage for the wearer, is powered so the wearer maintains agility almost equal to an unencumbered person, and can be repaired when damaged.
  • The Half-Life 2 mod known as Dystopia features power armor for its Medium class. Additionally, all classes can equip themselves with "leg boosters", which increase jump height and brace against high falls.
  • In Deus Ex, the Majestic 12 Commando units wear power armor (dubbed 'obsidian' armor by their creators) that is outfitted with two 7.62 mm machineguns and two rocket launchers.
  • In Deus Ex: Invisible War, the Templar Paladins wear Power Armour to combat their biomodified foes.
  • Samus Aran from the Metroid series of video games wears an exoskeleton, the Power Suit, designed by the Chozo and enhanced with an attached arm cannon, which grants her the ability to roll into a ball around one meter in diameter and/or perform very high spinning jumps. In addition, it allows her to survive almost indefinitely underwater, as well as in the vacuum of space. The suit is modular in design, allowing the incorporation of additional weapons, detection equipment, movement enhancements, and protective shielding. Samus' flexibility and agility are possible due to her intense training and a special flexible underlayer. It also includes some biological components, as evidenced in Metroid Fusion. Throughout the series, similar, if more primitive, armor is worn by Federation soldiers, Space Pirates, and other warriors within the universe.
  • The Fallout computer role-playing game series is notable for its use of powered armors in retro-'50s style. The first working version was the T-45d (deployed in 2067) which ran on conventional energy cells. The power consumption was so high however, that the later T-51b version (introduced in 2076) ran on an integrated TX-28 fusion reactor. The latter is said to be capable of absorbing a 2500 joule kinetic impact and the 10 micron ablative coating can reflect energy emissions such as lasers without damaging the surface. In addition, the suit runs on closed life support so that the wearer is nearly immune to radioactivity. Although its main users were Brotherhood of Steel Paladins, the Enclave performed extensive research and came up with an improved version made of lightweight metallic alloys with ceramic castings at key points. The design was later changed and the Mark 2 version (introduced in 2220) was made entirely of ceramics, becoming the standard issue armor for Enclave troops by 2277. Finally, the T45-d was the base for the MP-47/A prototype, which can administer morphine automatically, keeping the wounded soldier in battle condition until proper treatment can be administered.
  • Powered armor is an integral gameplay element of the Tribes video game series, with all major characters wearing it most of the time. Additionally, all armor suits are outfitted with jet packs, adding a similarity to the original Mobile Infantry equipment in Heinlein's book.
  • The super-soldier Master Chief in the video game series Halo is clad in an energy-shielded and strength-enhancing armored suit made from super-dense materials, called the MJOLNIR battle armor, that can allow him to turn over armored vehicles, quickly dispatch foes in melee combat, rgenerate health after injury (starting with Mark VI in Halo 2) and house starship-grade AI in a layer of crystals. These crystals are the same type is to create an AI's core, and reside in between the armor and the inner body suit to allow him to override enemy electronic defenses, along other countless uses. The character is so heavily associated with the suit that he is never depicted outside of the armor, though at both the end of Halo and the start of Halo 2, the Master Chief is helmetless, with his head offscreen. The main characters of Halo: Reach also wear MJOLNIR armor, fitted to their smaller size (as opposed to the towering Spartan-IIs like the Chief).
  • Also, the Clone commandos in Star Wars: Republic Commando sport a version of powered armor, called Katarn-class powered armor (though it is more armor than power).
  • In Mass Effect, certain armor upgrades would make it powered, increasing melee damage and movement speed. The increased mass is also an advantage since it makes the wearer harder to "push around" with telekenisis. In Mass Effect 2, the player may replace some of the standart components with powered equivalents (e. g. powered pauldrons for harder bludgeoning).
  • Exoskeletons have surfaced in many other video games. Some examples would be certain marines from Unreal II: The Awakening and MAX Units from PlanetSide.
  • In StarCraft and its expansion pack, most of the Terran foot soldiers: the Marines, Firebats, Medics (in the expansion), and possibly Ghosts, use powered armor. The Terran worker unit, the SCV (Space Construction Vehicle) also appears to be a bulky powered exoskeleton. The Goliath also resembles powered armor, and has been described as such in some StarCraft books, but, like the Armored Personnel Unit of the Matrix, blurs the line between power armor and Mecha. In StarCraft II, the Terran's also gain the Marauder as a multiplayer replacement for the Firebat. Also the Protoss unit Dragoon is a severely wounded soldier on life support in a powered exo-skeleton, yet in StarCraft II the art and design for an Immortal (the new and improved Dragoons) makes it resemble a mecha.
  • After extensive research, troops in the computer game X-Com have access to power armor that allows damage resistance and flight.
  • In the FPS Bet on Soldier player, as well as enemies, can carry an "exo armor", which covers the whole body, and even get into a war bipod called "exoskeleton."
  • In the MMORPG Neocron 2 high level players have access to several types of power armor.
  • In the video game series Metal Gear Solid, the first game features the character Cyborg Ninja (Gray Fox), who possesses a powerful exoskeleton with stealth camouflage. In Metal Gear Solid 2 Olga Gurlukovich wears a similar exoskeleton. Also in MGS2 Solidus Snake wears another type of exoskeleton equipped with missile firing tentacles and the Arsenal Tengus who protect Arsenal Gear and the Metal Gear RAY's in MGS2 appear to be wearing a military prototype combat power suit. In Metal Gear Solid 4 Raiden uses an advanced Cyborg Ninja type exoskeleton and the Beauty and the Beast group featured in the game all wear a different type exoskeleton armor.
  • In Eugen System's RTS Act of War: Direct Action (along with Act of War: High Treason), Task Force Talon's signature unit is the SHIELD Unit (Super High Infantry Electronic Defense Unit), which is a powered armor combat exoskeleton outfitted with a GAU-19 20 mm Vulcan Cannon and a Javelin Missile Launcher. These units have medium armor and used mostly as fast hit-and-run raiders that can take down helicopters in large groups, but do not fare too well against tanks and heavy artillery. They can be upgraded with a milimetric radar system to allow their pilots to detect stealth units.
  • Monolith Productions' first-person shooter F.E.A.R features an exoskeleton named the R.E.V.E. Power Armor. Arguably one of the game's most dangerous enemies, the R.E.V.E. is heavily armored and wields powerful weaponry such as rocket launchers and laser cannons, yet is almost as fast and maneuverable as a standard human soldier.
  • In Red Faction Parker's Miner Suit (similar to Gordan Freeman's HEV suit) is a form of powered armour
  • In Time Crisis 4, some of the enemies wear hi-tech powered armour. Unlike normal troops, they take a lot of hits to kill, and have a machine gun instead of a pistol.
  • In the Command & Conquer: Tiberian series, the Global Defense Initiative fields several units which could be considered powered exoskeletons. The earliest of these is the "Wolverine" powered assault armor, seen in Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun, a 9-foot (2.7 m) bipedal unit crewed by a single soldier and armed with two gatling guns to provide suppression fire for more conventional infantry. In Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars, GDI again utilizes the Wolverine in addition to the Zone Troopers, heavily-armored infantrymen wielding high-powered railguns and possessing the ability to leap great horizontal and vertical distances thanks to their jetpacks, and Commandoes. GDI's eternal adversary, the Brotherhood of Nod, also fields several units equipped with powered armor, most notably their Black Hand heavy infantry and Tiberium-wielding troopers. In the expansion Command & Conquer 3: Kane's Wrath, a subfaction of GDI known as ZOCOM, fields a female version of the Zone Trooper called "Zone Raiders". These infantry units possess similar armor to a regular Zone Trooper but are armed with sonic grenade launchers and possess shoulder mounted ground-to-air missiles.
  • In Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 the Soviet Tesla Troopers are most likely wearing a powered exoskeleton. The Desolator unit (which is only available in skirmish/multiplayer games and some campaign missions) also wears a type of powered light exoskeleton, but it provides the trooper protection from radiation.
  • In Dune 2, the Trooper unit, available to all sides except Atreides, wear powered armor in place of the still suit, and can move twice as quickly, and easily carry both rocket launchers and rotary automatic guns, presumably due to the power-suit.
  • In S.T.A.L.K.E.R the expert stalkers wear special exoskeleton suits which increases the carry weight limit from 50 kg to 70 kg and gives additional bullet protection, but makes them unable to sprint. The suits have minimal radiation protection and are very expensive/hard to find, which makes them somewhat impractical to stalkers venturing deep into the Zone.
  • In the computer game War Front, the Wehrmacht deploys troopers in exoskeletons, simply called "Exoskeleton". The design of these units is not influenced by science-fiction but rather resembles 20th century technology. Classified as "Light Tank", these Exoskeletons are armed with machine guns and a special rocket launcher ability that must be researched separately and can only be used every few minutes.
  • In the Sierra game Time Shift, the player wears the experimental "Beta Suit", which, apart from rechargeable shields, can cause time to slow, stop, or reverse, while leaving the player free to act normally. This suit seems to be a cross between power armor and a skin suit, but is similar to the suit used in Half Life 2.
  • In the Bungie trilogy Marathon, the "hunter" caste of the alien race Pfhor wears an Template:Convert/LoffAoffDbSmid powered armor suit armed with a shoulder-mounted plasma gun. The player character wears a protective suit with shielding and life support, although the suit lacks any super-strength ability. The character model seen in multiplayer and in artwork appears to be a form fitting jumpsuit with a metal or composite vest, kneepads and visored helmet. Late in the series the player character reminisces about a mishap involving a grenade launcher in a small corridor, leaving a permanent dent in the suit. Although the materials in the suit provided some protection, most of the protection seems to come from the energy shielding component.
  • In Star Wars Dark Forces, the final boss General Mohc wears a powered armour suit based on the Dark Trooper battle droid armour and is equipped with several weapons including a plasma assault cannon and rocket launcher and also has a built-in jetpack.
  • In Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, Admiral Galak Fyyar wears a formidable suit of powered armour upon facing Kyle Katarn. This particular suit has an inbuilt heavy repeater, and is defended by a shield generator and cortosis alloy, both of which provide ample resistance to Katarn's lightsaber.
  • In EA's Dead Space, the main character, Isaac Clarke, wears an engineering suit (called a RIG) that contains stasis and kinesis devices, administers healing gel and has plates of armour for protection. The military in the game wear a suit similar to this, but are far more armoured.
  • In Tom Clancy's EndWar the European Faction has Powered Armor on every infantry unit. The American Joint Strike Force Engineer unit utilizes powered exoskeletons, as well. They are called APE-2s that allow them to mount miniguns on their exolskeleton for additional firepower.
  • In Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and its sequel, there are several different types of power armor available including Corellian Power Armor. Although the armor types in the game are of little importance, power armor is available for use.
  • In Shadow Complex, the main character, Jason Flemming finds and utilizes a high-tech powered exoskeleton, that features underwater breathing, high speed running, jump-thrusters, and what is basically an impenetrable force field; although it requires the user to be moving very slow to remain active.
  • In Live A Live, in the "Near Future" or Flow chapter, the player gets to control a large ancient mecha called Buriki Daioh for the final few fights of the chapter. The mecha can fire large bullets, and has a seemingly endless energy supply.

In role-playing and board games Edit

  • In the Battletech (also known as MechWarrior) universe, genetically engineered Clan soldiers are bred for strength and other qualities to wear Elemental powered armor. Elemental armor also provides advanced medical technologies to keep the wearer alive in case of severe injury or trauma during combat. Following the Clan Invasion, many other governments began to deploy Battle Armoured suits, but often of lesser quality then the original Elemental Armour or more specialized in nature (such as one with a stealth system and quadrupedal unit with mines capable of crippling battlemechs)..
  • Powered armor is heavily used in science fiction role-playing games, such as Rifts, to allow weak and mundane humans to compete in combat with supernatural and super-powerful adversaries. Two common examples of Powered Armor (or just Power Armor) in that series are the 10-foot (3.0 m) Glitter Boy, which is covered in a coat of mirror-like, laser-resistant alloys; and the jet flight capable Strategic Armor Military Assault Suit (commonly called the SAMAS or Sam).
  • Privateer Press' Iron Kingdoms, the setting for the tabletop game Warmachine, includes Warcasters and characters that don suits of steam powered armor. The suits require coal to keep the furnace lit as well as water in their boiler.
  • Armored Adept is one of the available classes in Deeds Not Words. As a player levels up, his powered armor improves.
  • In the Infinity tabletop war game almost all of the games factions use powered armor, ranging from skin-tight combat suits to the large Tactical Armored Gears or T.A.G.s.
  • In the Warhammer 40k universe, a ubiquitous form of powered armour, simply called Power Armour, is employed extensively by the Imperial Space Marines and Chaos Space Marines. There also exists a much heavier and rarer form; Tactical Dreadnought armour, referred to in-game as Terminator armour. Additionally other races in In the Warhammer 40k universe like the TAU, ORKS and Eldar have different designs of Exoskeleton or Power Armour. The key here is many of the Warhammer 40k universe outline capabilities that are being designed into today's Exoskeletons.
  • Under the Shadowrun rules, the armor modification system presented in Arsenal does allow for the creation of powered armor, but such armor would be far beyond the means of a normal player character.
  • In the Exalted universe, there is a sort of massive powered exoskeleton called Warstrider, a combination of magic and technology from the first age, used for many works, from combat (mainly) to farming and moving cargoes (mostly after the solars' fall) by almost any kind of exalted, or magically enhanced humans.

Skinsuits Edit

A variant of powered armor is the skinsuit, a very thin (hence the name) and flexible powered armor variant. The skinsuit can be used as an environmental-protection suit, similar to spacesuit (for example, in the Honorverse universe), or may have some artificial muscle that increases strength, resistance and endurance, but in that case sacrifices environmental protection, sensory equipment, and built-in weaponry. The suits seen in the anime and manga versions of Spriggan and Gantz or skull suit from Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty would be prime example of this form of armor, as would the futuristic version of the Batsuit from Batman Beyond. Another would be the Nano Suit in Crysis. "Supersuits" that grant superheroes their powers in various comic books could also be considered skinsuits. The military uniforms in the webcomic Schlock Mercenary are almost universally skinsuits, utilizing buckminsterfullerene tubule-weave cloth and incorporating antigrav systems to allow a soldier flight capabilities.

  • Many Japanese tokusatsu television series and movies feature heroes (and more-rarely villains) in technological skin-tight armor. Popular examples include:
    • the long-running sub-genre Super Sentai saga (which, each following year, is Americanized as the Power Rangers saga). One exception to this would be the heroes from 2005's Mahou Sentai Magiranger (2006's Power Rangers: Mystic Force) who use literal magic spells to create their suits; whereas all other Super Sentai series have some form of on-person (the hero carry a device with them) or projected (the suit is transmitted invisibly from a fixed location or another more-powerful sentient being) technology involved.
    • Early versions of the darker Kamen Rider saga used skin-tight armor in addition to extended thick armor; though later generations of series have moved on in favor of more familiar metallic-looking powered armor suits that are also form-fitting.
    • The Ultraman series of superheroes (like Kamen Riders) uses a combination of skin suits augmented with thicker armor. This is debatable, however, as some Ultraman heroes are completely alien and merely appear as humans on the outside (hence the definition of what is armor and what is their body is undefinable), they feature a human merged with an alien symbiote which provides their powers, or the powers are gifted to the human character through a merely-mechanical alien device.
  • In Western literature, John Scalzi's Old Man's War presents a nano-technology based skinsuit or armor. Rather than hard, static plates and joints, it is more a mesh, light and pliable under normal conditions, but able to harden under the impact of a projectile, whether a bullet, debris or shrapnel.
  • In Crytek's Crysis, the protagonist, Nomad, wears a US Military prototype "Nano Muscle Suit" that allows the user to have extra protection against projectiles, superhuman strength, cloaking ability, underwater breathing, enhanced speed, and the ability to treat wounds out on the battlefield. These actions uses rechargeable energy reserves that power the suit.
  • Also, in Crysis Warhead, Psycho (Nomad's teammate from the original game) also has the same suit.
  • In Dan Simmons' Hyperion books, one of the protagonists is aided by a woman from the very distant future; she uses advanced technology to sheathe the character in an energy 'skinsuit' that not only acts as a powered body armor, but tends to injuries, allows the wearer to focus on objects with perfect clarity from many kilometers away, and allows the wearer to phase-shift in incredible speeds during combat. A person 'skinsuited' appeared to the viewer to be covered in a micrometres-thin layer of mercury.
  • In Fallout 3, the Brotherhood of Steel are seen to use skinsuits, called the Recon Armor, under their power armor, or as a sort of military uniform on some of the members at their base, the Citadel.

As with powered exoskeletal armor, it has become apparent that even the skinsuit may become a possibility in the near future: The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has reopened research into the space activity suit, a type of spacesuit that equalizes pressure through mechanical pressure as the suit with the breathing gas and DARPA is researching using carbon nanofiber tubes as artificial muscles for powered uniforms as opposed to an exoskeleton rig.

See also Edit


  1. Erik Sofge (April 8, 2010). "A History of Iron Men: Science Fiction's 5 Most Iconic Exoskeletons". Popular mechanics. 
  2. Noah Shachtman (December 12, 2004). "Exoskeleton Strength". The New York Times. 
  3. Ramsay, David (2005-02-09). "Armored Fighting Suit". Retrieved 2007-09-26. 
  4. Benford, Gregory (2002). "Chapter 8". Great Sky River. TSAT. Retrieved 2010-10-13. "She wore faded gray tightweave. It clung to an exoskeleton which clasped her like a many-fingered fist. He had seen such before, but never so finely made. The exskell ribs wrapped around her long thin body and shooting down her legs in a cross-laced spiral." 
  5. Hallert, Ben. "Power Loader Halloween costume". Retrieved 2006-11-15. 
  6. "Air Force shelves mechanical suit idea". Gainesville Sun. Oct 27, 1991.,8881816. 

External links Edit

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