Games developers are constantly trying to immerse us into the games, but what about how we control them? Gaming accessory maker Novint thinks it has the answer with the Novint Falcon Pistol Grip. But is it a must have accessory or gimmick? We grabbed some hands on time with the device at CES in Las Vegas.
The Novint Falcon Pistol Grip sits on your desk like a large stone. It's heavy, doesn't really move and you should trust us when we say that's a good thing.
Rather than use a mouse placed on your desk, the concept here is to use a pistol to control movement and your firepower in first person shooters (FPS).
The pistol grip, which looks like the back end of a pistol not surprisingly, is stuck onto three protruding arms from that big block that looks like a stone. Now instead of moving your mouse to control movement and weapons, when you move the pistol your character in-game moves with you and when you pull the trigger, you guessed it, you fire your weapon.
The pistol grip is actually interchangeable with the Falcon’s standard Grip that looks like the back of a mouse with plenty of buttons, but it's not as exciting and certainly a lot more complicated to use. After all, you probably just want to shoot stuff and feel like you are doing it, otherwise you would just be using a mouse.
However holding it is only one aspect of the Falcon, the other is that it is force feedback enabled and this lets action gamers feel weapon recoil, enemy attacks and other in-game interactions.
So what's it like to use? Well surprisingly tiring. Having your arm stuck out horizontally rather than laying on the desk is much harder than you’d think and helps create a more intense gaming experience for the FPS fan.
The force feedback is good too, not being overly rambunctious or, as normally the case with force feedback devices, too weak. We especially like the way the Falcon gives plenty of recoil to shooting. The days of keeping still and picking off your enemy one by one are gone. Fire a big weapon and you are going to know about it.
On the games front, it's nice to know that it is not just one or two dodgy titles supported, but big titles from big publishers. Electronic Arts, Valve Software, Codemasters, Eidos, and JoWooD all have titles supporting the accessory with notable AAA titles being Battlefield 2, The Orange Box, Left 4 Dead and upcoming Operation Flashpoint2: Dragon Rising all ready out of the box.
If you are looking to make your first person shooter that little more "real" then this is certainly the way to do it. While it's slightly confusing controlling a AK-47 or shotgun with a pistol grip, the one handed gun accessory means that taking out the bad guys is slightly more real than just mindlessly clicking a mouse.
But a word of warning. Not only are you going to need extra room on your desk, but also don't expect it to improve your skill. Just like a steering wheel for racing games, it will take getting used to, but just as a steering wheel improves racing games, this, based on our play at the show, will offer the same improvement of experience for FPS.
If you're serious about making first person shooters as real as you can, this looks like one for the birthday list.
The Novint Falcon Pistol Grip is currently not available in the UK, however it is available from most major US retailers via international shipping.