TrackIR Review

When you think of a simulator, you usually think of playing something that simulates a real life situation. This can be anything from flying, to playing from a soldier’s perspective.

The biggest hindrance to all simulators though is that they don’t really mimic real world environments. Sure, they do a great job of providing a visually stunning experience that let’s us see what it is kind of ‘really’ like. But from an interaction stand point, they are kind of dull.

Drum roll please. For all who have not heard of this wonderful device, let me introduce you to the sultan of all simulator interactive devices: TrackIR .

If you read the interview that we did with Natural Point a few weeks ago, then you know what this device is all about. Basically it is an IR camera that picks up head movements (from a cap or headphone clip that has sensors on it) and implements them in-game.

Let me put it this way. Let’s say you are playing Microsoft Flight Simulator and you want to look around your cockpit. With TrackIR all you need to do is move your head where you want to look.

TrackIR is, well, flat out useful…if you play a lot of simulators. I don’t know how to express to you how handy it is being able to look around the cockpit in my flight simulators by just turning my head. There is no more zooming, fidgeting, or micromanagement to just look out the left side of my cockpit.

The setup for the device is also very to the point and easy. Pretty much anyone can hook up this device and start playing with it right out of the box. No complicated drivers to install or anything like that.

But I am sure you are wondering about how this device fares in the FPS genre. Well the answer is not a simple one. It really depends on what game you are playing it in. We tested TrackIR in Armed Assault and Insurgency Mod for Half Life 2.

Armed Assault, being more of a simulator, provided a great example of what this thing can do and honestly what it was built for. Being able to constantly look around the battlefield with your weapon staying in one place is something to be had. But don’t think that there isn’t a learning curve with using this thing. It took me forever to get used to using it in ArmA.

Insurgency Mod is a completely different story though. TrackIR is rather limited in this game and I think for good reason. Too much freedom with this device in a game, like we experienced in ArmA, can lead to some quarky gameplay.

The limitations of this device in Insurgency are really not limitations at all though. Basically you can go prone or use your iron sights, leave your weapon pointing in one direction, and be able look around you. Doesn’t sound that handy, but it got us out of a few situations where not having a grand scope of the battlefield would have resulted in death.

But the real question here is if TrackIR is really worth the $200.00 price tag. My answer to that question is again not simple.

TrackIR is worth it…if you play a lot of simulators. Would I recommend buying this thing for an FPS? Not really. Though the ability to look around you in an FPS is nice, the device just becomes some what of a novelty after a while.

But with that said, I am going to restate this a third time. IF you play simulators a lot, this device is for you! Plus the nifty headphone clip looks super cool and you can get this device to do some pretty cool things if you are a developer.

Score: 90 / 100

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