FPS Freek by KontrolFreek Review
James Ku / Oct 30th, 2012 No Comments
KontrolFreek is a gaming accessory company that rather audaciously markets their FPS Freek line of products as “dramatically improving precision while aiming”. The FPS Freek line of products aims to do this by extending the length of analog sticks that they are attached to, which purportedly increases a stick’s range of motion by 40%, “giving [gamers] the opportunity to make smaller adjustments and ‘snap’ to targets much faster”. KontrolFreek makes some tantalizing claims (after all, who doesn’t want to improve his/her gaming ability?) but the big question remains: do KontrolFreek’s products actually work? KontrolFreek sent two of their products, the FPS Freek Infinity and the FPS Freek Havoc for review.
What are FPS Freeks, anyway? FPS Freeks are basically molded pieces of rubber and plastic that snap on to a game controller’s analog sticks, essentially extending the length of the analog stick by about half an inch. The Infinity and the Havoc appear to be functionally identical, with the only difference between the two being the designs on the thumb surface. While certainly not the fanciest gaming accessory around, the simplicity of FPS Freeks can also be seen as a positive, as there are no complicated shenanigans to work around or settings to fiddle with. Just snap on the FPS Freeks and game on!
How They Work
As the graphic to the right shows, extending the length of the analog stick allows gamers to make smaller, more precise analog stick increments by increasing the distance which the stick can be moved. This means that thumbs must travel a greater distance to fully extend the analog stick in any given direction, but with this greater distance comes greater accuracy in analog stick movement in between the full extension of the analog stick. FPS Freeks are therefore most suited for games that rely on precise analog stick movements (such as First Person Shooters, from which the name of the product is derived) rather than sheer end-to-end stick movement.
Various forum posts and product reviews suggested a break-in time of at least a week of regular usage. This recommended break-in time was achieved, and it did indeed improve aiming accuracy in FPS games such as Halo 3, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, and Borderlands 2. Other games also saw slight improvements in accuracy-related tasks, such as dribbling in FIFA 13 and driving in Shift 2 Unleashed (it should be noted that KontrolFreek in fact has another stick accessory that is designed specifically for racing games). The KontrolFreeks did a fantastic job staying on the analog sticks of the official Xbox 360 controllers tested and would in fact only come off with determined pulling and tugging, but were a little more prone to falling off when using third-party controllers. The KontrolFreek website provides gamers with a useful chart detailing which controllers work with their products, however, making it easier for gamers to see if their controllers will work with KontrolFreek’s products. There were a few downsides to the FPS Freeks that made them somewhat unpleasant to use at times. Placing a FPS Freek on the left stick resulted in the left bumper on the Xbox 360 controller being accidentally pressed more often than without the accessory, which could lead to undesirable results in many games. Accidental presses of the left bumper may be explained by the greater extension required of the left thumb, which in turn inadvertently led to the left index finger (which would normally be placed on the harder-to-activate left trigger) being placed on the left bumper. Likewise, placing an FPS Freek on the right analog stick made it more difficult to slide over the right thumb to press face buttons, which, as one might expect, could lead to slower reaction times with actions involving the face buttons. It should be noted, however, that the hands used during testing were of a smaller-than-average size, and it’s entirely possible that a gamer with larger hands might be able to more easily circumvent the previously mentioned issues.
While the FPS Freek Infinity and FPS Freek Havoc accessories do increase accuracy, especially in aiming-related actions, the downsides of the FPS Freek line of products slightly overshadowed the benefits, at least for the small-handed gamer that tested the accessories. Those with larger hands (more specifically, longer thumbs) would likely not be as affected by the FPS Freeks’ issues with the left bumper and face buttons, making the FPS Freeks a very advantageous purchase for this particular demographic of gamers. At $13.99 for a set of 2, the FPS Freek Infinity and FPS Freek Havoc aren’t the greatest value, but certainly won’t break the bank while providing a solid boost to controller precision.
Special thanks to KontrolFreek for sending product to review!
tags: hardware , kontrolfreek , review