Another genre of sims that compliments the ButtKicker are armor sims. The realistic sounds of Steel Beasts will make you believe you are a tanker. Again I feel like I should be smelling fumes and getting grease and dirt on my goggles (no, I don’t really wear goggles when I’m simming). The sounds from within the turret are fantastic and the vibration of the seat while driving or during combat is awesome. And when the main gun roars you certainly know it. I don’t have SB Pro PE (yet!) but I imagine the sounds are just as good with that sim. “T-72: Balkans on Fire” is a fun title with great graphics and a soundtrack that is up to the task.
And finally, I tried out some racing sims and again was impressed by the level of added immersion a little (or a lot) of vibration can add. Sliding around the track in FlatOut was a blast and the vibration rich sounds of those large engines showed off the capabilities of the ButtKicker to perfection. If you are more into the higher pitched revs of a ricer, don’t despair because you can simply turn the volume up on the amplifier and run the top end of the frequency up a bit higher to eventually get the vibration to cut in.
I admit I was wrong about my assumptions on this piece of hardware, and impressed by the fulfillment of what it promises. Will it make a bad game good or a bad movie an Oscar winner for special effects? No, certainly not. But it will supplement nearly any gaming or multimedia experience in a positive way. I also tried the ButtKicker with headphones on and the effect is quite nice. You can really crank up the in-game volume and adjust the ButtKicker amplifier to give you a matching degree of motion, but I don’t feel that it gives you a 2 AM “get out of jail free” card for gaming in a quiet house unless your gaming area is isolated a bit from the rest of the slumbering masses. It just so happens that my gaming rig is upstairs, directly over our master bedroom. Even though the ButtKicker is “soundless” the vibration can be more than enough to rumble the floor a bit and my Sleeping Beauty becomes the Princess of Darkness if I awake her mid-slumber.
I’m not sure how the ButtKicker Gamer would work with anything other than a center post office chair. I suppose you could clamp it the one of the four legs of a regular chair, but I didn’t test that so I can’t tell you what the results would be. One feature that might be nice (but might just add more cable and clutter to my desk) would be a remote pad to operate the volume and frequency of the ButtKicker amplifier. I have my amplifier located on the floor next to my desk which does require me to bend over toward the floor to make any adjustments I might want to make. The good news is that once you have the volume and frequency levels sorted for a particular game, you are pretty much done with the fiddling and your keyboard or other volume will adjust your in game sounds and the amount of vibration you are getting.
I’ve seen the ButtKicker Gamer (there are other versions of the ButtKicker for home theater systems and such) advertised for anywhere from $69 to $100 at various sites online. Prior to experiencing it, I wouldn’t have gone out to buy it because I thought it was a bit gimmicky (and I would be embarrassed to stand in line at Best Buy with the large “ButtKicker” box in my hands I admit). I wouldn’t say the ButtKicker is as experience altering as TrackIR, but for 70 bucks you get a very cool item that will definitely enhance not only your simming experience, but also music and movies. I leave mine plugged in all the time now and if usage is a reflector of value then I think the ButtKicker Gamer is a great value for the money.
Reviewer’s System Specs
- Alienware Pentium 4, 3.4GHz
- 2 GB DDR2 SDRAM
- NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GT PCI Express 256MB
- Saitek X52 and CH Pro Pedals
- LogiTech MOMO wheel / pedals
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