It was a design thing. Without getting into NDA violation territory, it had to do with keeping the infantry from looking like mechs while still giving them enough screen presence to be seen with the camera zoomed all the way out.
I don't mean to be coy. It's just that the development process was complex, and I would feel too much like I was pointing fingers when the decisions made were at variance with my personal tastes.
The infantry units ended up looking like the Matrix machines because of visual needs that echoed them. Infantry needed to be obviously human, in forms that would *read* as human with the camera zoomed out. There are many other aspects of how and why things look as they do, but I really can't share much without running afoul of my NDA or telling tales out of school.
Thank you. This was an attempt to address a number of difficult (and sometimes conflicting) design and aesthetic needs. I may be able to say more someday, but the nature of my contract prevents me from sharing anything behind the scenes.
It's understandable that you don't want to piss people off. I was mostly curious who exactly was calling the shots with art direction. For example; the EA art director on C&C3/RA3 really had a thing for using organic shapes on mechanical vehicles (hence why the scrin looked like bugs, soviets looked like some sort of frog). Although its not a style I exactly prefer, it is interesting to go back and go 'ahhhh, I get why they did that...'
Much like the suits from the later Matrix films, this was art directed to make them as human as possible and to have the pilots be highly visible. This is for an RTS, so the big challenge was having infantry units that would be big enough to be visible with the camera zoomed way out.
Not realistic, but sometimes you end up doing stuff that isn't realistic at all but dressing it up with details to seem as if it was. It's a tradeoff.
It's a horrible convention, I know. Not my idea, to be sure. It was just that we wanted to show that there was proper human infantry piloting the suits in such a way as to be visible to the game camera, so...
A little on the unarmored side, but still realistic. Also, you've managed to avoid the baby carrier syndrome - unlike the mechanical designers working for a certain British wargaming miniatures manufacturer.
Yeah, it's pretty silly. It's a sort of visual tradeoff to have him be an infantryman, but one you can see with the game camera zoomed out and still be distinct from the other infantry types. Think 'chainmail bikini'.