Right now, you’re asking yourself: Self, what is KontrolFreek? I mean… other than my overbearing mother?
You could type it into Google to find out. Or you could read my article to have baseless opinion injected into your research.
KontrolFreek is a line of products (read: 2 products) designed to give you “faster reflexes,” “greater sensitivity,” and “higher kill rates.” In essence, it performs all of the same functions of Durex Intensity® condoms. And, just like everyone’s favorite little baby balloons, KontrolFreek mods slip right over the tip of your controller’s analog sticks. There are two versions, FPS Freek (pictured) and SpeedFreek (for racing games). In just one simple click, it’s a snug fit compatible with both Xbox 360 and PS3 controllers. (No “magnum” version has been announced for arcade sticks.)
You’re probably skeptical that making the analog sticks longer has any effect whatsoever on gameplay. So was I. So I did the only sensible thing possible: I whipped out my Visa Platinum and ordered a pair of FPS Freek mods tout de suite.
3-5 business days later, they arrived.
Before we get to the meat of it, a little context: As someone who has grown up as both a console and PC gamer, the #1 thing I miss the most when playing on the couch is the control and precision of a mouse. I’ve pretty much given up on playing First Person Shooters on consoles, because it’s just depressing missing shot after shot after shot that I know I might have better landed with my Logitech G5 mouse. Similarly, I often find that making minute maneuvers in racing games and shoot’em ups (shmups) is nearly impossible, even with the analog control. It’s easy to slip a bit too far while navigating around the controller’s “dead zones,” the areas of the analog stick that don’t register motion.
After reading nearly 200 universally positive reviews of FPS Freek, including endorsements that claimed it would work well in racing games, I figured, why not? If they absolutely sucked, I’d just pawn them on eBay at a minor discount. In addition to the reviews, KontrolFreek has a page dedicated to “the science” of their products, explaining in light detail how the additional leverage and grip help you pwn noobs. An interesting read.
Back to the trials: upon applying FPS Freek to the 360 controller, they fit cleanly and clicked into place confidently. They seemed sturdy and didn’t look absolutely ridiculous, though I imagine that they might be an eyesore on a controller that isn’t white. There’s definitely an adjustment curve, because you will immediately notice how much higher your thumbs sit on the analog sticks. Not good or bad outright, but different.
The first and pretty much only game I’ve tested FPS Freek on is, ironically, Forza Motorsport 3. And I say “only” because within 30 minutes of using FPS Freek it was obviously a big difference from using the default analog stick. Sure, it’s not as good as a real racing wheel, but in a simulation racer like Forza, lap times can often depend on the exact angle you take a turn. FPS Freek’s extended leverage definitely makes it easier to fine-tune your approach, the turn itself, and the exit onto the straightaway. I was impressed.
Even more important was how much easier it made long oval turns. As anyone who has played a racing game other than Mario Kart knows, it’s very difficult to maintain a slight angle on a long turn (like the ends of an oval track) at high speeds. Usually your strategy consists of “tap left every other second and hope there’s no spinout” or “buy a racing wheel.” Because the overall maximum distance between “left” and “right” increases when using FPS Freek, it’s a lot easier to move the stick just a tiny, tiny amount and hold it there for a long time. Without Kontrol Freek, this often resulted in either drastic overshoots or “dead zone” responses (i.e. I crashed into a wall at 185 mph).
Before giving my final recommendation, I will say there is one downside to FPS Freek. Since it makes the analog stick taller/longer, it makes using the analog stick for digital inputs more difficult. I routinely found that navigating menus, changing simple options, and similar actions to be more annoying, since you have to push much farther left/right/up/down in order to move the cursor. That said, the simple solution was to use the d-pad. Of course, if a game doesn’t allow you to use the d-pad for some ridiculous reason, you might fumble through the menus for a couple extra seconds.
Based on my initial testing, KontrolFreek’s FPS Freek works as claimed. Obviously I have only used it in a handful of games, but the difference is at once apparent. It makes precision movements easier, more sustainable, and more accurate. It definitely takes some getting used to, but once you’ve acclimated yourself to the new height, you will see some improvement.
Is it worth $9.99 (+S&H) to you? That’s up to you to decide. (At least… until KontrolFreek pays me to say otherwise).