One Shot at a Time – FPSFreek SNIPR Review
For many gamers, the console controller can feel inaccurate when playing a first-person-shooter – especially compared to PC gaming with a mouse. Sensitivity settings are often too high for long-range shooting, or too low to deal with close-quarter combat, never reaching a happy medium. Enter the SNIPR, one of the three most recent releases from Kontrol Freek’s FPS Freek line-up. These Battlefield 3-inspired thumbstick extenders help keep your shots as accurate as possible, without sacrificing sensitivity.
So how do they work? The concept is incredibly simple: by raising the height of the thumbsticks you add more space between each degree of tilt, increasing the overall range of motion. If this sounds a little confusing think of it like a protractor. Look at the center of the tool and you’ll notice that the lines are close together. As they extend out, the space between them increases. Applying this theory to a controller’s thumbsticks allows players much more space for accuracy and control, allowing them to turn up sensitivity while still being able to make smaller, more fine-tuned movements than what was possible on a lower sensitivity without extenders.
I can hear many do-it-yourself players out there thinking: “So what’s to stop me from just taping erasers to my thumbsticks or something?” In short: the comfort and aesthetics. The SNIPRs feature the emblem of Battlefield 3’s Recon class laser-etched into the thumbpads, symbolizing their use for snipers. They are also made of an incredibly soft and light material, making movements easy and fluid. Grip is stellar as well, which really surprised me as only the cross-hair design is available for traction, instead of the usual tiny nubs. Movements big and small can be handled with no fear of slipping, even during intense, palm-sweating moments. For multi-console users, the SNIPRs are designed to fit over both Xbox 360 and PS3 controllers and are also MLG legal (for all the pros out there). Overall, they have to be the most comfortable thumbsticks I’ve ever used. The fact that they’re fairly inexpensive is also a big plus!
Given that the SNIPRs were designed based on Battlefield 3, I decided it would be appropriate to use that very game to test them. Being a Recon player myself, the thought of having extra control and precision sounded like a blessing. My first round was far from hallowed however. Usually I play on a low sensitivity, but the excitement of greater control had me jump the gun and I immediately turned the setting right up. What followed was a series of failed shots and several deaths. The reason for this was that the SNIPRs make the controller feel totally different at first, which forced my muscle memory to re-learn it all over again. After a while, I was able to slowly turn up sensitivity bit by bit until I found my personal golden zone. Now I was able to make incredibly small movements to take extremely long range shots, yet still turn fast enough to engage enemies effectively with my pistol. This degree of control with the right stick was simply just not possible before adding the additional height.
So the right stick worked, but to be honest the left extender, with its limited use in-game, was much less impressive. In shooters, the left stick is used mainly for movement and often in only two degrees: moving all the way in one direction, or perfectly centered. Once I stepped into a helicopter however, my doubt seceded. The extra height on the left stick allowed me to better balance my chopper against rolling, keeping it as level as possible. A similar experience was found while driving a buggy. Turning became much smoother, instead of making jerky attempts at steering. Both sticks also amplified my skill in jets; helping me keep my sights on enemy aircraft without over or under shooting.
While the SNIPRs are geared towards first-person-shooters, they help players excel in other genres as well. The Metal Gear Solid: HD Collection uses an older control scheme and a fixed sensitivity, where the left stick is used both in third-person movement and first-person view aiming. The added height of the extenders makes for easier aiming, and prevents unintentional or premature movements while sneaking up on helpless guards. For flight-based games where both sticks are needed for control, such as Darkstar One: Broken Alliance, the SNIPRs grant room for much more advanced moves instead of just hitting extremes. In just about any game where accuracy is needed, these enhancers will help keep players on the mark.
The FPS Freek SNIPRs are a great addition to a player’s controller. Will they immediately turn you into a powerful beast with a perfect K/D spread? The answer is probably no. In fact, the better you know your controller the worse you’ll initially play when using the SNIPRs. However, once you get the hang of them, they help to boost your natural skills and allow for the best performance possible. Factor in the comfort and cross-hair design, and you have a masterpiece of both form and function. If you’re a Battlefield fan looking for some extra accuracy, these extenders are a must have. Grab your rifles and load your ammo, the SNIPRs are ready for action!
Final Score: 5.0 / 5.0
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