Are you sick of getting teabagged in Halo 3? Tired of getting smoked in Need 4 Speed? These Kontrol Freek analog nubs won’t make you climb to the top of the MLG, but they will improve upon the details of what can separate a pro from a hardcore gamer.
So what are these Kontrol Freek products? Currently there are two models: The FPS Freek, a taller analog nub designed to provide more accurate aiming, and the Speed Freek, a “U” shaped thumb cradle built to increase the handling and control of your vehicle in driving games. Sold separately but in pairs, each set costs about $10, making this a cheap way to improve your gaming skills. Both the FPS Freek and Speed Freek are compatible with 360 and PS3 controllers. Note: they will not work with the Wii’s nunchuk or even a Gamecube controller.
Before these nubs can be used, they need to be installed on the controller – the most difficult aspect about these products. While no tools are needed, getting these attachments to snap on the controller’s thumb stick is trickier than it sounds. The user needs to push down on the thumb attachment and onto the thumb stick until it is fully latched on. It becomes a challenge because both the 360 and PS3 analog sticks can be pressed like a button. However, once installed both the FPS Freek and Speed Freek are very tight and will not come loose with normal use.
Although it is easier to install on a 360 controller thanks to the textured surface of the analog stick, I did encounter an undesirable effect when installing this on a PS3 controller. Due to the softer material of Sony’s thumbstick, I accidentally dented my analog stick while trying to install the FPS Freek. Because you have to press down firmly at such a precise angle, any type of misfire will cause the teeth on the attachment to dig into the face of the analog stick. My thumbstick now looks like someone bit it forcefully with a front incisor, making a thin indentation. Luckily, it doesn’t affect the performance of the controller, although it looks kind of strange now.
Removing the nubs are a lot easier than putting them on. To remove, just grab and pull until they come off. If installed correctly, each nub will put up a fight to be removed, but it is a small sacrifice to make considering how snuggly each unit fits – a good problem to have.
The FPS Freek is designed to make aiming more accurate by increasing the length of the analog stick. By making the stick longer, subtle movements are exaggerated, and thus even more subtle. This means that you can turn up the sensitivity using the game’s settings while maintaining a similar level of control.
When first using the FPS Freek, there will probably be a slight learning curve. Raising the thumbstick by almost 50%, the usual positioning of thumbs, wrists and hand grips will all need to be slightly adjusted. After experimenting with a few different FPS’s, you will probably see a difference in your skill level. It will, however, take some time to fully adjust to the new controller style. But if you are looking for that slight edge in Halo 3’s Snipers Matchmaking for example, using this controller add-on could provide that small boost in skill level you are looking for without technically cheating. Also, the texture and style of the nub is almost exactly the same as the 360 controller, making the unit feel like a direct extension of the controller itself. This might seem a bit strange when used with the PS3 controller, but I found the slight texture on the nubs allow for a more accurate experience than the standard, smoother PS3 thumbstick.
For racing/driving game fans, the only way to truly give the game a realistic feeling is to purchase bulky and expensive racing wheels. Although it still doesn’t compare to these hardcore peripherals, the Speed Freek can help racing enthusiasts achieve an enhanced level of control. Shaped like the letter U, the user’s thumb sits in the cradle. Instead of griping the top of the thumbstick, the user actually nudges the sides of the Speed Freek. Like the FPS Freek, this unit extends the length the thumbstick which can allow for more detailed control. However, the learning curve on this “U” shaped attachment is a little higher than the FPS Freek because of how you use your thumb. Pressing from side to side as opposed to moving the top of the analog stick is an unnatural response to the tried-and-true way to control video games. But with practice, games that require pinpoint accurate control can become easier with this thumb gadget.
Installing the unit isn’t the only fiddly aspect of the using the Speed Freek. Because the shape of the attachment is larger than anything you will be used to, it can make it difficult to reach other buttons on the controller, like when trying to tap the Start or Select button the PS3 controller. And to reiterate, the Speed Freek is “U” shaped. This means that you will have to install the unit exactly to your liking; if you snap on this gadget slightly off center, your thumb will not sit right when in use. But once installed at the angle of your choice, you probably will not have to remove or adjust it.
Since each nub style comes in a set, it also gives the user some options in terms of installation and use. Originally, I used a FPS Freek on both analog sticks, but actually found it slightly more difficult to control the body movement of Master Chief. I now prefer the use of the FPS Freek on the right thumbstick only. The same goes for the Speed Freek; you might only need one. Alternatively, you can install one of each on the thumbsticks of your choice.
If I had to choose one over the other, I would definitely select the FPS Freek. It really can help in your competitive multiplayer gaming. Not that the Speed Freek can’t, it is just that the Speed Freek has more of a niche audience. Besides racing games, the Speed Freek can be cumbersome whereas the FPS Freek can actually be used for games other than First Person Shooters.
My only other complaint, although minor, is the color of these nubs. Depending on which color controller you are using, these thumb attachments can look mismatched. For example, when using a standard white 360 controller, the FPS Freek looks just fine. However, when used with the black Elite 360 controller, the white trim of the FPS makes the nub look like the cream filling in an Oreo cookie. The same goes for the PS3 controller. Because there are multiple controller colors out on the market, it would have been nice to be able to pick and choose the color of your nubs. But this is only a minor cosmetic issue that only purists will be concerned about.
For the low price point of $10 for a set, these products are cheap enough for anyone curious enough to give them a try. The installation is the most difficult aspect about these products, but it becomes easier once you learn how the each unit snaps on. And if you like them, you might never have to remove them from your controller. If you are a competitive gamer that is looking for any type of edge above your competition, then you should absolutely check out these products by Kontrol Freek.
– Good price point
– Can really make your game control more accurate
– It is still technically not cheating because you are only using a controller (not hacking/modding)
– Made of quality material
– Packaging makes it easy to open and even store your nubs
– Can mix and match nubs (can use one, two, or even one of each)
– Only comes in one standard color, might mismatch the color of your controller
– Speed Freek is really only good for racing games, but FPS Freek is more universal
– Requires a slight learning curve but will be worth the effort in the long run
– Can be difficult to reach other buttons on the controller especially with the Kontrol Freek
– Is tricky to install because of tight fit
– If installed off center, it might tooth-up your controller’s nub
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