Razer Hydra Review

By on August 6, 2011
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The motion sensing of the hardcore.

Good: ergonomic, extremely precise, plenty of buttons to compensate for a keyboard, Portal 2 feels natural with it
Bad: Lack of native game support, wired solution can get quite messy
Price: AED 550 (approx.)
* The price is the Suggested Retail Price at the time of review. Please call a retailer to confirm the latest price for this product.

Unless you been living under a post-apocalyptic bunker, you should know that motion control is slowly but steady creeping up to be the mainstream of video games. Sure, there is a dearth of quality games on offer, for both the Kinect and the Playstation Move (don’t get me started on Wii), but the next-generation console and hardware cycle will be heavily based on the non-potato couch gaming experience. Microsoft and Sony haven’t invested millions of dollars just for kicks and giggles (but if they ever feel like it, I am open to cheques).

While the consoles have their backs covered with their own multi-million dollar gadgets, the PC had been left stranded alone and neglected like the platform it is increasing becoming (apparently). But that’s until Razer stepped with an invention of their own. It’s called the Hydra and it harnesses the power of magnetic fields to unleash the flourish of motion control gaming on us frag-sters.

The Hydra is not spectacularly different, it uses the same nun-chuck approach of the Wii, however it’s technology and precision far outclasses Nintendo’s toy. According to Razer, the Hydra uses magnetic forces to detect the exact location and orientation of the controllers and delivers an “ultra-low latency”, “fluid and precise” gaming experience.

Let’s find out how it fared in our test. But first the…

Now, if you think you will be put to a disadvantage with the number of buttons to click from your trusty old keyboard, don’t you worry – the Hydra has you covered.

There are two identical controllers to hold onto. Each feature 4 hyper-response face buttons, a ‘start’ button, one analog stick that’s click-able as well, and two bumper triggers. That’s should cover the needs of the most demanding PC gamer, unless you are an MMO player – then you need more fingers, not buttons.

The controllers has a nice little belly for grip which makes them quite easy to hold and use (provided the index finger is on the triggers at all times). Barring the top bumper triggers, which also lacks any sort of ‘click’, every button was easy to hit with the thumb. To top it off, they are just about perfect in weight; they don’t feel like cheap China-made plastic toys, yet aren’t too heavy to lug around either. But that’s expected – it’s from Razer after all.

While the controllers, all black and plastic, looked rather dull and boring (it doesn’t have a large glowing ball sticking out of its mouth after all), the base station is rather futuristic. The globe-like thing glows green when plugged in, in multiple triangular cuts. This is where all the magnetic magic happens. It emits low-power magnetic fields (which is apparently twenty times weaker than earth’s own magneto), yet can aptly compute down to a millimeter of difference in movement of the controllers, and also sense the orientation they are in. The magnetic field hasn’t driven any of my equipment to insanity, so I assume it’s safe have it around among it’s brethren.

As you may have noticed, the Hydra are not wireless. Now, I am sure there are a few technical reasons behind it, but we cannot overlook the fact that things can get quite messy. The sets of wires not only creates a fussy desk, but it also runs the risk of yanking on it too hard in excitement to cause it damage, or to other equipment around it. Not all games are as sedate as Portal 2, after all. Oh, and that brings me to…

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Mufaddal Fakhruddin is the Editor for IGN ME and thinks writing in third person about himself in an about me section is weird.

  • Danny

    Hi Mufaddal, my name is Danny Woodall and I work with Sixense Entertainment Inc. Our technology is what drives the Razer Hydra.  We wanted to make sure that you were aware of a few fundamental features in “non-native” games when played with the Razer Hydra.

    “Ratcheting” will allow you to freeze the view so you can reorient your wrist, which is analogous to lifting the mouse when you run out of mouse pad. This is accomplished by pressing button 1 on the right controller.

    It also sounds like you may have had you in game sensitivity higher than what the game default is. We recommend restoring all settings to their defaults before trying to play with the hydra. In fact you will probably have better results by adjusting the fps sensitivity in the Razer Hydra Configuration page.

    Sixense Razer Hydra FPS Tutorial

    Also, we do have more control modes in the works that are more simlar to what you experienced with portal. Here is Crysis 2 using a freelook camera mode, which is basically Portal 2 freeaim without the cursor movement.

    Thanks for taking the time to review the hardware and if you have any more questions please stop by our forums.

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