Not many of us here play video games that often, and I think even our resident gamer (Rania) hasn't had much time to sit down with the xBox since having a baby. So when Turtle Beach asked us to try out their new line of headsets at New York Comic Con, we knew we'd have to find someone to help us out. Enter Theresa!
She is a graduate of the 2008 Clarion West Writers' Workshop, and is a contributing writer for Tor.com -- covering author interviews, gaming news, book reviews, and snarky True Blood episode recaps. She tried out several headsets for us, and has a thorough review after the jump:
As a gamer, I've already got the tools necessary to isolate myself from my surroundings and become completely focused on whatever it is I'm trying to accomplish – namely, an obsessive personality and some great surround sound. I'm usually a solo campaign kind of girl, but some titles can only be fully appreciated with a little help from my friends. The Call of Duty franchise needs no introduction to fans of first-person shooters. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is the latest in the series and to mark its release, Turtle Beach has created a special line of limited edition headsets to enhance your multiplayer experience.
I was given a demonstration of the company's new products at New York Comic Con and was pleasantly surprised with the performance of the headsets at all price points. The gaming conditions weren't ideal, being on a packed exhibit hall floor with The Black Eyed Peas Experience -- complete with blasting music and loud DJs -- IN the adjacent booth. So with that margin of forgiveness in mind, I did my best to assess The audio bells and whistles Turtle Beach has to offer.
All headsets are variations on existing Turtle Beach models with some military-grade updates, such as textured finishes and embossed COD logos on the headband. Purchase of any Modern Warfare 3 headset grants you additional downloadable content and discount codes for Turtle Beach merchandise. Also, pre-ordering MW3 on Amazon will get you $10 off any of the exclusive Turtle Beach MW3 gear.
The first pair I tried on was the Ear Force Foxtrot ($100), a universal stereo headset with separate controls for in-game and chat audio and a bass amplifier. Exploding grenades were appropriately bombastic, but the stereo expander was a cool concept I was previously unfamiliar with. (Admission: I still rock the default Xbox 360 headset that only covers one ear. This, I would learn, is foolish of me.) The demo I played took place at a firing range and I tried out a variety of weapons, from pistols to my go-to favorite, the M-16, and the sense of immersion was intense – hearing-each-shell-casing-drop-to-the-floor intense. Having an expanding sound field definitely gives you an edge in certain multiplayer games, as you can hear players' boots crunch over the ground, recognize their location, and take them out before they know what HIT them. Unfortunately, the demo was single-player only, so I couldn't try out chat features.
Next to get a test run was the Ear Force Charlie ($130) which was designed for PC/Macs, though you can use the jack to plug directly into your Xbox controller. Featuring 5.1 surround sound speakers, this headset brings the battle up close and personal. Featuring four independently adjustable speakers in each ear, including a subwoofer, there's no doubt that this is a powerful headset. And the Charlie certainly looks the most COD inspired, with a braided cable and leather-padded headband. However, I personally found it uncomfortably heavy. I can play for hours; I don't think my neck could take the weight for an extended duration, and neck pain certainly won't help my stats improve.
The two higher-end headsets, the Delta ($300) and Bravo ($180), were unavailable for demonstration. The Bravo is a modified version of Turtle Beach's PX3 universal model, wireless and loaded with voice and chat presets for a multitude of audio options. Three hundred dollar headsets? On military pay? Yeah, the Delta is really only for the hardest of hardcore COD fans. I know a few people who play COD on Prestige Mode – this is the universal headset for them. Dolby 7.1 Surround Sound, Bluetooth technology and wireless chat enabled, the Delta is equipped with a whopping 18 audio presets developed by MW3 creators Infinity Ward. You can customize background noise levels, focus on distant footfalls, turn up concussions, and tweak your teammates' voices over chat. If you're one of those rare birds who uses the unpopular telephone feature on your mobile device, you can also program the Delta to switch between games and calls with the press of a button. The Delta and Bravo both come with a custom-made carrying case. The Bravo also gives users access to additional downloadable content from the game developers.
With the holiday season approaching, any one of these headsets would make a great gift for the dedicated shooter-fan in your life. The COD-specific features don't feel tacked on, especially since Infinity Ward helped in their creation. While my character will probably never reach Prestige in Call of Duty, if there was a Foxtrot-level headset available for one of my favorite, most-played franchises, I'd be all over it in a heartbeat. I found that Foxtrot provides the best bang for my buck at my current level of play. Not to say that one couldn't use these headsets to play Uncharted 3, too. The Turtle Beach MW3 line is cross-promotion done right - stylish, relevant, and powerful, these headsets are a worthy addition to the setup of any dedicated gamer.
Turtle Beach Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 limited edition headsets are available now.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 releases 11.08.11.