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NaturalPoint TrackIR 5 - NaturalPoint TrackIR 5

By Stuart Andrews


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However, it's Arma II that really sells TrackIR for me. I'll admit I'm not a huge fan of the game or the realistic military sim genre; once you go beyond, say, GRAW and GRAW2, I find the extreme difficulty levels and rather unforgiving gameplay a bit aggravating. Nor is Arma II the easiest game in the genre to get to grips with, hampered as it is by less than intuitive controls and some rather long-winded game mechanics. All the same, TrackIR makes the game absorbing and exciting enough for me to get over these issues for a while. The look mechanism has cleverly been isolated from control of direction and targetting, meaning the mouse remains in control of your heading and your sights, even when you have your head turned to face a completely different direction. As a result, you find yourself racing through the brush in some godforsaken Soviet land, sneaking peaks left and right to check on the whereabouts of squad mates, and using your head to maintain a greater awareness of your surroundings and any lurking dangers therein. And when helicopters speed overhead or the bullets start whizzing over your shoulder, frantically scanning around just adds to the game's taut atmosphere. If only NaturalPoint could bring TrackIR to Battlefield or Call of Duty, I suspect the results would be fantastic.

It's also worth pointing out that TrackIR works with multi-monitor setups, and while I had to make do with a single 22in screen, I suspect that having a large horizontal view to work with should only add to the sense of immersion.

All very good, then, and if you're heavily into your sims and you already have the flightstick, the steering wheel and the triplehead setup, then TrackIR probably is the next logical step. However, it's not a cheap step, and given the relatively small number of games supported - and many of them quite obscure - this leaves me with a quandry. At £140, does TrackIR represent good value for money? Just about, but it could do with being a little cheaper - even compared to most yokes, steering wheels and flight-sticks this is a pricey bit of kit, and the aforementioned products will typically work with a much larger number of games. And while it's easy to see where the money has gone with a G25 steering wheel or a flight yoke, throttle and pedals, nothing about the TrackIR makes it feel all that expensive.

But games support is really the crucial issue. The best thing to do is take a look at the{linkout:http://www.naturalpoint.com/trackir/03-enhanced-games/enhanced-games-all.html list of supported games. Run down the list and see how many of them you are still really serious about playing, and how many you've forgotten, never known about or left behind. If you're still putting serious hours into one, two or more, then buying the TrackIR kit makes sense. If not, then a better monitor, a new controller, a new graphics card or maybe just a few more games will probably get you more for your money. For serious sim-heads, then, TrackIR is an attractive if pricey proposition. For the less committed, it's an interesting technology, but one that needs a smaller price tag and a longer list of supporting games to convince.


TrackIR is an effective technology that adds a new layer of immersion for fans of serious sims. If it only had stronger games support and a lower price point, it could probably convince some more mainstream gamers too.

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July 19, 2009, 1:36 pm

Cor! I wonder if Johnny Lee's Wiimote hacks can be made to work with this system? (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

Also, I really want to try this with GeForce 3D!


November 20, 2010, 9:54 am

I'm very impressed with the responsiveness of the IR5 in FSX, but I have to say that for $170+ the cheap plastic tangs that they put the head set assembly together with are totally unacceptable. Its pretty sad when some electrical tape rapped around the broken parts the DAY AFTER the IR5 arrived is about 10000 x stronger than the delivered product. Seriously guys, spend the extra 4 cents and put some meat into this thing so you can lay it on your desk without breaking it! BTW, I'm an IT exec in my late 40's so when I say something is cheaply built and breaks easily, its not because I'm too rough on things.



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