Razer, a company associated with competitive, hardcore gaming has truly impressed me with its PC gaming-grade motion sensing controller. The Razer Hydra coupled with Valve’s Portal 2, brings out the full PC Motion Control potential that is sure to impress all other gamers.
[quote]A breathtaking new way to play when you can intuitively reach out and interact with the virtual world in complete three dimensions, as you would in real life. -Razer[/quote]
Above is a direct quote of the Hydra’s marketing materials from the website all the way down to the included Quick Start Guide. It could not be more true.
Price & Packaging
The official price point of the Hydra on Razer’s site is $139.99, however several third-party websites do offer it for as low as $99.99. Like most Razer packaging, it showcases the same level of attention and presentation that most other alternatives never receive. Its attractive packaging gets your attention quickly, and holds it, but that’s not what we drop our pretty pennies for, is it? No, it’s behind the clear plastic packaging, peering out with a serpent-like green-tinted eye is the Razer Hydra. It all makes me feel not only like I’d get my money’s worth, but that I’m be buying a living addition to my gaming arsenal.
The Hydra packaging includes:
- Razer Hydra PC Gaming Motion Sensing Controllers
- Base Station
- USB Cable
- Quick Start Guide
- Portal 2 Product Code
The hardware setup is very easy. You set the base on your PC desk, preferably in a location that your controllers cables will still reach you and somewhere you can’t bump it. Once that is done you plug in the controllers and set them on the base.
The Hydra’s driver installation is simple once you download the drivers from the Razer website. Follow the install prompts and BOOM!, one restart and you are ready to configure the controllers.
The controllers configuration is the harder part. You can severally hinder some of your motions and comfort if you do this step wrong. The instructions say to point the controller at the base. Don’t. I found that if you hold the controllers in a comfortable, natural, and neutral position, you’ll get better performance. Remember that where you calibrate the controllers; acts as your zero point on the six axis. If you can visualize that, you’ll have an easy initial setup.
The final step is going in and out of games to find your sensitivities sweet spot, and match it with your skill-set. It’s a bit time consuming for the intermediate gamers, but for the hardcore crowd it’s worth it. Optionally you can configure your key bindings to almost anything.
The Razer Hydra with its nunchuk-like styling and six degrees of freedom has now fully replaced my Razer Nostromo and Logitech G500 Gaming Mouse when playing FPS’. Why? Because the Hydra offers everything I need for fragging enemies or getting headshots, and does it with unparalleled precision and speed. The setup to get there took time and patience, but it’s worth it, and makes dismantling opponents even more visceral.
Let me repeat this because I’ve read some reviews that have bashed the Hydra in ‘competitive’ multiplayer first-person shooters. You HAVE to think in six axis’ and not in only four axis’ for this to be a worth while replacement for your mouse. It’s not just the ‘virtual axe’ swings that won me over, it’s the fact that I can mash up several ‘motions’ as replacements for mashing some keys coupled with shooting/running. There’s no hindrance and added abilities after the player gets over the initial learning curve.
With the above said, at the moment it will not replace my keyboard & mouse in some of my MMO’s/RPG’s. There are too many key bindings to setup with the Hydra. That is time I don’t want to spend outside of the game. I’ll keep an open-mind because I’ll likely be able to find some configurations made by other hardcore gamers; with more time on their hands.
Realize I didn’t get to this point over night. I’ve been playing with the Hydra for a solid week straight. There are still some negatives, but the positives certainly outweighed any negatives. Let me break it down:
- Total game immersion.
- With the controllers quick responses it became an extension of my hands. Kind of like the mouse and keyboard did for us hardcore PC gamers.
- The ability to have several ‘motions’ act as key bindings opens up new/unexplored combos.
- Six axis adds more key mapping and abilities.
- When was the last time you jump/crouched/stabbed in Modern Warfare without having to hit 2-4 different/simultaneous buttons? Exactly.
- Amazingly precise & accuracy.
- With my setup, small snaps moved the camera as fast as my Logitech G500 Gaming Mouse @ 5700dpi.
- Extremely comfortable to hold, and I was gaming for hours at a time.
- Each controller has a thumb-ergonomic analog stick, 4 action buttons, and rapid-fire trigger and bumpers.
- Lightweight and slip resistant.
- There are lots of buttons being cramped into the controllers. This enables the player to have full customization for core keys needed.
- The base pulsates green. (when not in use)
- It’s like it is watching me. It’s an awkward mix of creepy and awesome.
- Lot’s of configurations and customization available.
- You can change the pre-configured buttons if you wish. More configurations will be released and can be downloaded over at Razer Hydra Sixense Forum.
- I had no issues with default configurations. They are solid in V1.01.
- The learning curve for this can be intense compared to other peripherals.
- It is six axis control so getting used to jump/crouch while simultaneously hitting other buttons and twisting (some forward stabbing motions) wasn’t the easiest.
- Takes time to setup and if you mess up the initial calibration, it’s difficult to ‘re-calibrate’ (except in Portal 2).
- You need to download the drivers from Razer’s website.
- Tweaking the sensitivity settings to fit your play-style is a must. Once you have it setup to match your skill-set it’ll out perform any keyboard & mouse or Xbox controller.
- Initial calibration can be difficult to get exact.
- The instructions say to point the controller at the base. Don’t. I found that if you hold the controllers in a comfortable natural neutral position, you’ll get better performance. Remember that where you calibrate the controllers acts as your zero point on the six axis. If you can visualize that, you’ll have an easier initial setup.
- Needs longer cable and/or distance from base.
- Personally I wouldn’t vote this goes wireless. I hate batteries going out mid-game and then waiting on it charging.
- But…at the very least it should have a longer wire and distance from the base so I stop punching my desk in a heated battle. (I’m bleeding)
- I wish I could use it as a mouse within browsers. It started to feel really natural.
- More games would support it natively. Currently the only game is Portal 2 (and well worth the play-through).
Games I Played while using the Razer Hydra
- A Reckless Disregard for Gravity – Fun
- Fallout 3: New Vegas – Fun
- Portal 2 – Amazing
- Red Faction: Guerrilla – Fun
- Team Fortress 2 – Extremely Fun
- Modern Warfare (all) – Extremely Fun
- Lego: Star Wars – Rather use a mouse
- World of Goo – Fun
- Witcher 2 – Awesomely Fun.
[toggle_box title="Hydra Supported Games" width="600"]
[toggle_simple title="A - L" width="600"]
|A Reckless Disregard for Gravity|
|And Yet It Moves|
|Assassin’s Creed 2|
|Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood|
|Batman Arkham Asylum|
|Battlefield Bad Company 2|
|Beyond Good and Evil|
|Bit Trip Runner|
|COD: Black Ops|
|COD: Modern Warfare|
|COD: Modern Warfare 2|
|COD: World at War|
|Company of Heroes|
|Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts|
|Company of Heroes: Tales of Valor|
|Deus EX: Invisible War|
|Fallout 3: New Vegas|
|Grand Theft Auto 3|
|Grand Theft Auto 4|
|Grand Theft Auto: Vice City|
|Half Life 2|
|Just Cause 2|
|Kane & Lynch|
|Kane & Lynch 2|
|Left 4 Dead|
|Left 4 Dead 2|
|Lego Starwars 3: The Clone Wars|
|Lego: Harry Potter|
|Lego: Indiana Jones|
|Lego: Star Wars|
[toggle_simple title="M - Z" width="600"]
|Mass Effect 2|
|Max Payne 2|
|Monday Night Combat|
|Mount & Blade|
|Mount & Blade: Warband|
|Oddworld: Abe’s Exodus|
|Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee|
|Plants vs Zombies|
|Poker Night at the Inventory|
|Red Faction 2|
|Red Faction: Guerrilla|
|Resident Evil 5|
|Return to Castle Wolfenstein|
|Roller Coaster Tycoon 3|
|Sam and Max 101|
|Serious Sam HD|
|Splinter Cell: Conviction|
|Super Laser Racer|
|Super Meat Boy|
|Team Fortress 2|
|The Wonderful End of the World|
|Titan Quest: Immortal Throne|
|World of Goo|
[toggle_box title="Technical Specifications" width="600"]
Thumb-ergonomic analog stick for fluid control
4 Hyperesponse action buttons
Rapid-fire trigger and bumper for faster in-game response
Non-slip satin grip surface
True six degree-of-freedom magnetic motion tracking
Lightweight, anti-tangle braided cable
Low-power magnetic field, low power consumption
Ultra precise sensor for 1mm and 1 degree tracking
No line of sight to controllers required
Low latency feedback
Approximate Size : 120 mm / 4.92” (Length) x 120 mm / 4.92” (Width) x 100 mm / 3.94” (Height)
Approximate Weight : 800 g / 1.76 lbs
[toggle_box title="System Requirements" width="600"]
PC with 35MB free disk space
Internet Connection (Driver installation)
For more information on how we review products check out our criteria here. A sample of this product was provided to The Paranoid Gamer by the manufacture for review purposes. If you have any questions about this product, the reviewer will be able to answer them in the comment section. The Razer Hydra Portal 2 Bundle (PC) can be purchased directly through their online store (store.razerzone.com).