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The Razer Hydra And Portal 2

Like it or not, motion control's been kind of a big deal in gaming lately. We've got the Nintendo Wii, Sony Move, and the Microsoft Kinect. I suppose there's just something about being able to game with a gesture that enchants us. Two days ago, Razer announced that motion control is finally coming to the PC, via the Razer Hydra. If that's not enough to grab you, it's going to come bundled with Portal 2.

Shall we see what Razer's got in store for us? 

The Tech

Razer's newest product makes use of something known as Sixense, a motion-control technology developed by a company of the same name.  According to information on Sixense's website, Sixense makes use of an ultra low power magnetic field in order to track the position and location of the controllers. It's the first technology of its kind, and boasts precision down to one millimeter/one degree, along with a wide field of detection. 

It also doesn't require direct line of sight or calibration to function, something which a lot of motion control gaming peripherals pretty much demand. Sixense's technology allows you to stand anywhere in a twelve foot radius around the control unit. Furthermore, you can configure the motion controllers to track virtually any motion you can think of.  (Sixense/Games Beat) This just sounds sweeter by the minute, doesn't it?

Product Features

You've gotta hand it to whoever writes the spec lists for Razer, they know how to make their products sound right bloody impressive. So what do they have to say about their new gadget? The Hydra's specs are as follows: (From Razer)

  • Thumb-ergonomic analog stick for fluid control
  • 4 Hyperesponse action buttons
  • Rapid-fire trigger and bumper for faster in-game response
  • True six degree-of-freedom magnetic motion tracking
  • Lightweight, anti-tangle braided cable
  • Low-power magnetic field
  • Low power consumption
  • No line of sight to controllers required
  • Low latency feedback

Oh, and if you want, you can swing by the product information page for more details, including vids of the product in action and a 360 degree view of the device.

Even better is that your computer doesn't need to be a beast to handle this new tech. The system requirements for the Razer Hydra are actually quite reasonable. You'll just need 35 MB of hard drive space, Windows XP, Vista, or 7, a USB port and an internet connection. If you don't have any of those, well....maybe it's time for a new rig? 

The Bundle

So, a lot of you are wondering where Portal 2 comes in. Well, the Razer Hydra's going to be available in June, bundled with the game for $139.99. The bundle will include the base, two wired controllers, and a copy of Portal 2 complete with seven new levels that make specific use of the Hydra's capabilities. While that's really cool and all,  the price...well...it doesn't really mesh with what we've heard from Razer. 

See, when they demoed the product at CES 2011 back in January, word was that they were aiming to set the price point below the hundred dollar mark. (Engadget) We can only hope that there will eventually be a non-bundled version of the product available. For now, though, it looks like we're stuck shelling out the extra cash. (Joystiq)

Portal 2's thankfully not the only game the Hydra's compatible with. Joystiq's released a list of the hundred twenty five titles that will support motion control once the Hydra launches.

Final Word

Okay, okay, talk is cheap. Razer's marketed the Hydra very well, their product information page says a lot of cool stuff about the device, replete with buzzwords such as "hyperresponse". But can they put their money where their mouth is? It's all well and good that the product sounds awesome, but does it live up to the hype? 

Yeah. I think it does

Preorders for the Razer Hydra begin in May.

(Images from Gizmag and Engadget)