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Razer Hydra review

Wii-like controls for your PC

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Our Verdict

For

  • Accurate
  • Solid build
  • Interesting design

Against

  • Wired
  • Motion controls can be erratic
  • Only a few games natively support it
  • Doesn't suit many games

The Razer Hydra is the PC's answer to motion controllers, popularised by the Nintendo Wii. With the Xbox 360's Kinect and the PlayStation Move, motion controllers are certainly popular among casual games. But hardcore gamers, especially on PC - which is Razer's usual customer base - have proven more resistant to the charms of waving around your arms when playing games. Can the Razer Hyrda change all that?

The Razer Hydra is comprised of two controllers, with analog sticks, five buttons on the face and two trigger buttons on the back, along with a base station. The base station has a round orb that senses the controllers, which looks interesting, but whether or not you want a glowing orb on your desk is something you'll have to decide.

As we've come to expect from Razer, build quality is fantastic. The base station connects to your PC via USB, and the motion controllers connect to the base station via wires as well. This can be a bit of a problem if you were envisioning standing or sitting far from your monitor - the need for these controllers to be wired does hamper your movement somewhat.

The software used to configure the controllers showed a host of compatible games for the Razer Hydra, though only one, Portal 2, natively supports the controllers (and is included with the Razer Hydra).

Other games emulate the controls, and the success of motion controls in games that weren't made for them is hit and miss. We tried it out on Left 4 Dead 2, and while there were some nice touches, such as shaking the left controller side to side to change weapons, on the whole the motion controls didn't add much to the experience, and in some cases hampered gameplay.

Your arm quickly tires of being pointed towards the screen to aim, and sometimes the motion controls become too sensitive - changing weapons when you don't want to - or not sensitive enough. This unpredictability can be extremely annoying in the middle of hectic gameplay, where accuracy is all-important.

Verdict

Overall the motion accuracy was very good, with no noticeable latency, and is up there with the PlayStation Move. The breadth of games on offer is impressive, and for a short while it's enjoyable to use.

However, more often than not the motion controls get in the way, especially in first person shooters. If you want fast and accurate controls, then this doesn't beat the good old keyboard and mouse. It might be fun for a while, but the novelty wears off, and serious gamers will want to keep away. Just because you can add motion controls to games, doesn't mean you have to.