Kontrol Freek was kind enough to send the FPS Freek and Speed Freek out for review. The Kontrol Freeks, particularly the FPS Freeks, are quite popular with a number of players in competitive gaming. My teammate Skyllus, for example, used the FPS Freeks for two events during the MLG 2009 Pro Circuit season.
In wake of the recent surge, by certain companies, to produce better controllers for console players, specifically on the Xbox 360, I find controller add-ons such as the ones produced by Kontrol Freeks to be particularly fascinating. The company specializes at producing small analog add-ons for controllers for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. They target their product specifically for “professional gamers,” but by my estimates, are catching the attention of a wide variety of players.
During my play testing, I primarily focused on the FPS Freeks. The Speed Freeks did not seem as beneficial during my limited play testing, mostly on Blur, so the review will not focus much on them.
Today I will focus on the following:
- My Playing Experience
- Pros and Cons
- Who Should Purchase
What’s in the Box
The design of the FPS Freek is rather straightforward. It looks very similar to the analog of a standard Xbox 360 controller. There are noticeable differences in the number of gripping pegs used on the FPS Freeks (12) versus the standard number of pegs on an Xbox 360 analog (4). The increased number of pegs contributes to the amount of grip each thumb has on the analogs. The FPS Freek adds about 1.5cm of additional height to the left and right analogs after snapping them into place. The added height provides additional leverage, improving the accuracy and precision with each movement.
I played a little over 30 hours with the FPS Freeks on the following games:
- Battlefield Bad Company 2
- Monday Night Combat
- Gears of War 2
- Halo 3
I determined that the FPS Freeks did add a noticeable improvement in accuracy and precision when I played on a higher sensitivity. There was very little improvement in my accuracy at lower sensitivities. Perhaps my favorite design feature is the additional pegs located on each of the FPS Freeks. It makes a big difference in the amount of grip your thumb has when quickly moving from left to right or quickly aiming shots — snipers will love them on Call of Duty or Halo 3. I thought they were fantastic on Monday Night Combat utilizing the Rail Gun with the Tank Class.
The biggest hurdle is becoming acclimated to the extra 1.5cm of height that each of the FPS Freeks add to your controller. I immediately noticed my thumbs were sitting higher than normal and made a conscious effort to play through the “weird” feeling. After a few hours it felt quite natural and I actually like them more than the current Xbox 360 analogs.
The FPS Freek was developed to improve your accuracy in first person shooter environments, helping you react and hit your targets faster. FPS Freek extends the length of your analog stick, increasing your range of motion, giving you 40% more linear distance from full stop to stop.This gives you more leverage and increased control without disturbing your natural gaming feel. FPS Freek will help you to aim and lock in on your target faster, while putting less strain on your finger.
The design of the Speed Freek is odd looking, but makes sense after understanding the purpose of the product. There are two extended curvatures that extend upward after snapping it onto the analog. The primary purpose is to hold your thumb into place in order to ease or “hug” turns easier without your thumbs slipping off of the controller. Unlike the FPS Freeks adding the Speed Freek to an analog will not raise the elevation of your thumbs.
I had a very limited play test experience using the Speed Freeks on Blur. I did not notice much of a difference in my racing performance, probably because I do not play many racing games.
At this present time, I do not fully believe that the average gamer that plays racers will notice a significant change. I feel as if the Speed Freek will only make an incremental difference in performance, even at the highest level of racing competition.
The Speed Freek was developed to give you more control in racing games, enabling you to improve racing times when running against the clock. The unique curve of Speed Freek enables you to hug the turns in racing games, without your fingers slipping off the controller or creating unnecessary friction on your fingers. Speed Freek keeps your thumb on the existing control surface, with no disruption between the natural geometry that you have learned to use. Speed Freek’s supporting side walls enable sharper movements while adding to your control and precision in racing games.
Speed Freek is also great for flight-sims!
Speed Freek is designed to fit both the PS3 and Xbox 360 controllers but will also fit many third-party versions.
Works great in games like:
- Gran Turismo 5
- Forza Motorsport 3
- Need For Speed
Pros and Cons
- Fantastic price point at $9.99 (FPS & Speed)
- Oustanding grip using 12-Peg (FPS)
- Easy to use and understand (FPS)
- Can improve accuracy at higher sensitivity (FPS)
- Great replacement for worn analogs (FPS)
- Added height can feel awkward (FPS)
- No Noticeable Improvement (Speed)
- Very little, if any at all, improvement in accuracy at lower sensitivity (FPS)
End of the Day
At the end of the day, the FPS Freek has a much better value than the Speed Freek. At $9.99 it is hard to devalue the Speed Freeks, but they are not really an outstanding improvement in racing performance. Conversely the FPS Freeks are an absolute steal at $9.99 and offer much more value to players looking to improve their First-Person shooter experience.
I believe the FPS Freeks can be put to use and have seen them successfully utilized at the highest level of gaming competition. Those planning on playing Halo: Reach or Call of Duty Black Ops might be interested in picking up these add-ons. Anyone gamers out there with extremely worn down analog sticks should also look at investing into the FPS Freeks instead of spending money on a brand new controller. I actually think they would work quite well for the LAN Center environment where the analogs on controllers are worn down to the nubbiest nub possible — yes that low.
I do not believe that the Speed Freeks will offer much value to the average racing fan out there. There might be a minimal amount of value with the hardcore racers, but I do not see it extending much beyond them.