While walking around PAX, I ran into an interesting device called the KOR-fx by Immerz. This device they claimed provides a 7th sense of awareness in games (I suppose 6 senses just werent enough). They said it provided something they called Emotional Surround Sound, which would let you feel the action and environment of games like never before. With a description like that, I just had to sit down and try it out.
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I sat down at their table and the screen in front of me had Left 4 Dead 2 running. Left 4 Dead is one of my favorite games (I mean who doesnt love killing zombies over and over again?) so I was very interested in seeing if they could actually make the game better. They placed the KOR-fx over my head and adjusted it so that the pads from the device set on each side of my chest. It was lightweight, easily adjustable to most sizes, (although very large people might have a problem with it) and the device didnt feel cumbersome in the least. After some quick instructions on how to adjust the intensity, which basically is just a knob that dials up the sensitivity of the unit, I was ready to kill some zombies.
The game began and as I walked around the device gave tiny vibrations in my chest. Walking would provide the very slightest of vibrations, while gun fire or melee attacks provided pretty intense vibrations. It felt like someone had taken the force feedback from console controllers and attached them to my chest. I used a variety of weapons to see to see if there was any difference in the feel between weapons. There was little to no noticeable difference between attack types, but it was kind of cool feeling the shots in your chest instead of just in your hands. It was pretty cool feeling the vibrations when the zombies were biting you. The feeling could get pretty intense, and unlike the vibration of the controller you could actually get a sense of the direction the attacks were coming from using the KOR-fx. The sensors in the pads provided a more focused vibration throughout the pads than any controller I have used.
According to Immerz the KOR-fx is for far more than games. They claim you can use it while watching movies, playing music, or basically to immerse yourself in anything that has sound. All that is needed to use the devise is an audio out plug, like those used by headphones. They also claim to be working with game companies to provide an even better experience by supporting the games directly, and having the games coded to make use of the devise. While this is not necessary to use it, Immerz claims it will heighten the experience.
I liked the KOR-fx, it was interesting, and did improve the game experience for me. The downside and where this all falls apart is in the price. The KOR-fx retails for $189.99. Thats right, no typo there, $189.99 for basically a force feedback controller strapped to your chest. Sure its a really good force feedback controller, but essentially thats what this is. If it was $50, I would have already ordered one, but at that price, and with no bundled games, I simply cant justify getting this. It does enhance your gameplay experience. It is pretty cool, and immerses you into the game, but not $200 worth of immersion. If you have more money than sense, and just have to have the latest gadget no matter the cost, give the KOR-fx a go. However for the rest of us that has to make our gaming dollar stretch, wait for the price to drop significantly.