It’s a good thing I’m not a holy man.
Game peripherals (control pads, joysticks and mice) have come a long way in the last couple years. With greats such as Saitek’s X36 Flight Control System, Logitech’s Wingman and Microsoft’s Sidewinder dominating the joy and flight stick world, companies are going to need some pretty elaborate new tricks up their sleeves to snag a piece the peripheral pie. Mmmm….pie.
VR Standard, a two year old company specializing in stereoscopic 3D technology, attempts to brave the steep mountain of big name, high-quality peripherals with the release of their VR Joy Airstik 2000. Is VR Standard ready to ascend with a firm foothold or are they inevitably trying to ice skate uphill? Let’s see.
Installation of the Airstik 2000 is simple and painless. As a matter of fact, it’s really too simple. There is no programming software and no supplied drivers. Instead, the Airstik runs off the standard input device drivers supplied by Windows. Regarding peripherals, this has always been a sign of a second-stringer. You always want to have, at the very least, proprietary drivers. Windows is not the sole operating system out there, ya know.
To get yourself going, you must open the Game Controller program in the Control Panel of Windows. Then create a custom profile and assign the 2 axis, POV (point of view) and number of buttons. I never could map the POV correctly. Every time I would hit a direction on the POV, the Airstik would read the command like I was pressing all of the buttons on the stick at the same time. This of course made the POV about as useful as a pack of Pokemon cards in a barroom brawl…useless!
Part of the appeal of some of the aforementioned and more popular joysticks is that they are esthetically pleasing. The design for the Airstik is…uh…how do you say…questionable, for lack of a more vulgar term. The shape just has this masculine familiarity that I could have done completely without, if you know what I mean. This may be to mentally make up for the gamer’s inadequacies in …ahem "other" areas of "gaming." Its design does allow for ease of use among right and left handed people alike, but if I were a holy man, I would not even be able to touch the thing.
The big feature of the VR Airstik is that you can lift the stick up from its base and use it in mid-air. The motion-tracking sensor does a great job of detecting the gamer’s movements. This gives gamers a completely new type of control and comfort.
But due to the amazingly light, cheap plastic construction, the immersion factor is pretty much zero. Given, the lack of weight is needed if you are to play for extended amounts of time without the base. This way, VR Standard doesn’t have to worry about any carpal tunnel lawsuits from weak wristed gamers.
I should point out that the Airstik works very well with flight games (Echelon) & first person shooters (Unreal Tournament) and is effective (though not perfect) with driving games (Midtown Madness 2). The five action buttons and throttle are easy to reach, and the mid-air action is a nice new feature. However, no programming software, the suggestive appearance, cheap feel and a $60 price tag make the VR Joy Airstik 2000 seem more like an expensive paperweight compared to other joysticks on the market. It’s real, and it’s good, but unfortunately it just isn’t real good.