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Razer Hydra Review

Razer Hydra
Review of: Razer Hydra

Reviewed by:
On Jul 11, 2011
Last modified:Feb 10, 2014


Has a lot of potentials and brings fun in PC gaming to the next level. However, it depends on developers to update their games to support it

Razer Hydra Review – I’ve always wanted to play my PC Games “Wii-style” or in a more technical term, with motion sensing controllers. The idea of having to exercise while playing games definitely hits the spot for me. Not to mention the fun of having to wiggle your arm or doing both silly yet creative movements. They add to the excitement.

Razer Hydra, powered by Sixense, has brought up more than just fun and excitement. It also brings creativity and more flexibility in playing PC games. I’m not a console gamer (maybe when I have a family one day) so what I want is having motion sensing controllers to play my current & future PC games in my tiny bedroom.
Razer Hydra

Razer Hydra Unboxing Video


Razer Review - packaging

My Razer Hydra review unit package contains the Razer Hydra motion sensing controllers (two of them; one for your left hand and the other for the right), the base station to compute the exact location and orientation of controllers in your hands, and the cables to connect them all into a single seamless motion sensing system.


Controller design

Each controller has a thumb-ergonomic analog stick, 4 action buttons, and rapid-fire trigger and bumpers. In a way, there are lots of buttons being cramped into the controllers. Whether a game is using all of them or not, it’s up to the developers (or up to you when you customize them personally). Suffice to say, there are enough buttons to map every core key needed when you are playing a game.

Overall, I like the comfort of the controller, thanks to the ergonomic design and the contour of the controller.

controller buttonsergonomic

The controller is also very light with an anti-tangle braided cable, making it easy to store and connect the devices together. The cable is also long enough so you can stay in quite a distance from your computer desk.

Long cable

Swinging the controllers around is smooth and the grip surface is also non-slippery. Sweats can be wiped out easily if you play for too long and get sweaty.

The Razer Hydra controllers are not wireless though – I believe I saw a wireless prototype video sometime ago but there might be some latency issues so they are sticking to a wired solution for now. So far I have no complain with the wired solution as I find that the cable is long enough from the desk that I can still have my freedom of movement. I’m sure one day we’ll hear a wireless Razer Hydra. Just a matter of time :)

Base station design

The Razer Hydra base station specs:

  • Low-power magnetic field, low power consumption
  • Ultra precise sensor for 1mm and 1 degree tracking
  • No line of sight to controllers required
  • Low latency feedback

The size of Razer Hydra’s base station is not too big but still requires a space on your computer desk. It also has a glowing light (it’s not Razer if they don’t put a fancy light in!), though of a green color (I was expecting blue). There is nothing else to set-up apart from having to install the Razer Hydra driver into your computer and connect the USB and controllers to the base station.

Razer Review - Base station

The base station has a magnetic field but thankfully it doesn’t seem to interfere with any of my other devices nearby (as you may have known, I have so many reviewed gadgets in my house and haven’t had any magnetic interference problems so far).

Impressions and experience

One thing that you need to know first, games need to be updated to fully utilize Razer Hydra’s motion sensing. At the moment, only Portal 2 (which is included with the Razer Hydra) has the most optimized motion sensing support, thanks to the partnership between Valve and Razer Hydra. Left 4 Dead 2 and possibly other games are still being updated/developed (you may have seen the videos) so you cannot start whacking those zombies with your arm swing just yet. You can still kill those pesky zombies with motion sensing, but aiming the crosshair around requires some work, unlike Portal 2 because Valve needs to release an update to fully optimize the aiming with motion sensing. At the moment, you need to use “racheting” technique to look around with the right controller – which is quite difficult to master.

Razer Review - Portal 2 support

There are over 125 games supported (check out Razer Hydra supported games list) by Razer Hydra, meaning, you don’t have to configure the supported game buttons one by one. There is a preconfigured action, for example, by pushing the left controller down to crouch (in Left 4 Dead 2 and Battlefield: Bad Company 2 when I tested).

Left 4 Dead 2 default configurations:

Razer Hydra - Left 4 Dead 2

Razer Hydra - Left 4 Dead 2  setting

You can even play The Witcher 2 with Razer Hydra:

Witcher 2 Razer Hydra

You can change the pre-configured buttons if you wish. More configurations will be released and can be downloaded over at Razer Hydra Sixense Forum. I wasn’t too happy with the way they map the buttons when I played Dungeon Siege III but of course, I can change them myself in the configuration file.

Unfortunately at this stage, changing the configurations can only be done manually by editing the configuration files with a text editor. Razer is planning to release a GUI (Graphical User Interface) tool some time soon though (if not already by the time you are reading this Razer Hydra review article) to make it simpler.

Razer Review - configuration

Even with an optimized motion sensing, it will still be a challenge to play any First Person Shooter games with Razer Hydra competitively online. The fun is there, don’t get me wrong (especially whacking zombies with my “virtual axe”) but seriously, I can see myself at the bottom of the scoreboard if I stop using my gaming mouse. We all know that we can aim more accurately and quickly with our mouse compared to a motion sensing controller. Playing a single player campaign, however, can be fun and worth a try with Razer Hydra.

Razer Hydra Review – Playing Portal 2 with Razer Hydra

I really love playing Portal 2 (with the Sixense MotionPack DLC) with Razer Hydra. It’s definitely more fun than using a traditional mouse and keyboard. There are also more actions that you can do with the Razer Hydra in Portal 2 that do not exist if you were hooked up with a mouse and a keyboard, such as:

  • By extending your arm to the front, you can move the Cube further away from you. Similarly, retracting your arm towards you will pull the Cube closer.
  • You can also press and hold the portal creation button on the Hydra, then move your controller around to move the created portal on the wall.
  • Not to mention there are also Portal 2 exclusive levels for Razer Hydra players ;) I haven’t tried these yet but I’m sure they are more fun than the regular levels since the levels were designed specifically to take advantage of the motion sensing.

Overall, playing Portal 2 feels more natural as you move the Cubes around and feels more fun, compared to the traditional mouse and keyboard. Motion sensing tutorial levels are included so you don’t have to figure things out by yourselves.

Razer Hydra Review Conclusion

ConclusionThis brings my Razer Hydra review post to its conclusion. Razer Hydra brings gaming to the next level, assuming the game developers take it seriously and start updating their games to fully support motion sensing. The partnership with Valve definitely means serious business and that they see Razer Hydra’s true potential seriously. It is only a matter of time before other game developers start to see the potential too and release updates to their games.

With or without a true motion sensing support though, playing online FPS games with Razer Hydra is quite difficult. Even with an optimized motion sensing support, you probably wouldn’t want to part with your keyboard + mouse combo.

But imagine whacking zombies using your arm on Left 4 Dead 2, blocking a blow by lifting your left hand equipped with a “virtual shield” in the upcoming Elder Scrolls: Skyrim *fingers crossed*, or some quick fun punches. The fun is endless. Let’s hope that there will be more games developed solely for having fun with Razer Hydra.

Note: Razer Hydra review unit was provided for the review

Razer Hydra Review – Pros

+ Wii on the PC? Five thumbs up!
+ Brings fun to the next level in PC Gaming
+ Long cable, plenty of movement
+ Pre-default button configurations for other games
+ Comes with Portal 2 motion sensing support
+ Ergonomic controllers

Razer Hydra Review – Cons

– Relying on game developers to release full motion sensing support
– Non dual-shock controller
– Not wireless (yet)
– Can’t stay too far from the base station (2-3 foot radius)

Own a Razer Hydra? Feel free to contribute to this Razer Hydra Review post below.


  1. That looks super cool – it won’t be long before gaming is like a virtual reality simulator where you control all the action by physical movements unencumbered by wires. :)

  2. looks cool

  3. Razer hydra is cack

    No precision – no accuracy

    cursor wobbles when stationary

    you have to press a button to disable the motion sensing to re-center the sticks – yes seriously!!! You have to interrupt the sensing to emulate the mouse lifting/replacement….whata joke!

    Ive sent my hydra back for a refund as its shit. But beware – razer WILL NOT pay for return shipping even though you have to send it back to sodding germany

    Id avoid buying razer products again if i were you

    crap products from a crap company

    • You need to wait for games developer to update their games for the full motion sensing support (at the moment, only Portal 2 does this). Or else, you have to do that “pressing a button to disable the motion sensing to re-center the sticks” thing, which I agree, is really annoying and non-intuitive, but it’s the only way at this stage.

      The gameplay videos (L4D2, BlackOps) might have mislead people that the updates have been released, where in fact, it hasn’t at this stage

    • This isn’t Razer’s fault, you just didn’t read enough about the Hydra before you purchased the product. Don’t go complaining about it and saying it’s shit when it JUST CAME OUT!

  4. Can you simply use the one of the hydra sticks to replace a keyboard (wasd) and still use a mouse in gaming? Like FPS? Im looking for a product that does that – something like FragFx but I want to be able to use my own mouse, not the one that comes with FragFx (for PC gaming)

  5. This ratcheting seams like a pain, it will still be way more superior than turning by aiming at the sides of the screen as it will allow you to do faster turns. Ive seen a video somewhere on youtube, someone playing UT3 with instagib using the ratchet function, he didn’t seam to have a problem with it.

    Either way im sure ratcheting will be better for competative gaming over the turn function, its slow as hell in portal2.

    • It’s really hard to learn and practice though and most people would prefer to use a mouse compared to the racheting technique. Perhaps they can improve the response in the codes so we’ll just have to wait for the update

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