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Storm Light Gun XFPS

The reviews on this site are the text versions of the videos on my YouTube channel. The text based reviews use (if at all) very little pictures. Please follow the link to the corresponding video in order to see in game graphics.

The Storm Light Gun was made by XCM as part of their XFPS range. Similarly to the Nintendo Wii Remote it uses infrared reference lights to track where the gun is pointed at. It was made for PC and behaves as a mouse input device. What sets it apart from similar light guns such as the Ultimarc Aimtrak is that it uses relative, rather than absolute positioning. As such it can't be calibrated and is less accurate, but supports games, which would otherwise be incompatible. For the Sony PlayStation 3 another version of the gun was made which is called Fire Light Gun.

From a distance the gun looks like a Namco G-Con 3 with its side handle which carries a second analogue stick. Compared to a Guncon 3 though the main handle bends much more and looks a bit like the handle of a Colt pocket percussion revolver. Another difference to the G-Con 3 is that the second handle is removable, which greatly reduces the controller's overall weight.

The controller is designed to be very versatile and very compatible. It doesn't require any additional software and configuration tools apart the self installing mouse and keyboard drivers. All buttons and sticks map to keyboard and mouse inputs. The analogue stick at the second handle is treated as being a digital device and is mapped to the WASD cluster, which is often used in first person shooter games. The main analogue stick at the grip is mapped to mouse movement and is one of two ways to readjust the zero position of the gun while gaming. The other way to readjust the offset is the lower button at the second handle. It causes the gun to stop paying attention to the light tracking. The player would re-align the sights with the mouse cursor position while having the button pressed down and then release it. On the left hand side is a D-pad which is mapped to the arrow keys. Next to it a line of buttons is mapped to E, F, G and H. On the right hand side are further buttons. A diamond array is mapped to I, J, K and L. Next to it is another line of buttons mapped to M, N and O. Pressing down the analogue sticks is also mapped to keys. B and C are available that way. The trigger is mapped to the left mouse button. The right mouse button is located at the detachable handle.

The built quality of the gun is high and the controller is sturdy. The trigger uses a tactile, clicky push button and feels nice. The sight picture is very clear and usable. Below the back sight is an adjustment wheel which controls the sensitivity of the emulated mouse. Sadly the maximum available sensitivity is way too low and thus it is impossible to adjust the controller in such a way that the mouse pointer follows the sights of the gun.

The necessity to include means into the gun to easily readjust the zero position is inherent to relative position mouse controllers. Imagine one moves a mouse to the top border of the screen. Moving the mouse further up now will not move the cursor any further. As soon as the mouse moves down again, the cursor will start moving right away and will not compensate for the length of excess distance it has moved. Of course the Storm Light Gun behaves the same way, which isn't a big problem.

Sadly there are two major problems which almost completely ruin the experience as they mess with the positional tracking and thus move the zero position of the gun. First the used light sensor has a certain cross sensitivity towards visible light. This isn't unusual. What is unusual is that the Storm Light Gun doesn't have a high-pass light filter to isolate the sensor from visual light. As is the gun would just work passably in complete darkness, while still being distracted by the light emitted from the monitor. Personally I solved this issue by gluing an 810 to 980 nm high pass filter to the plastic window using glass glue. The most annoying problem with the gun is that it will spam mouse inputs pointing towards one of four positions once the gun isn't sensing light anymore. This will completely mess up the relative location of the mouse cursor to the zero position. Depending on where the IR reference light bar is located, this loss of tracking is very easily achieved. In my personal experience I got decent tracking results when placing the bar at the bottom of the screen, which is curious, as the manual just recommends the top of the screen as a valid location. Speaking of the light bar, it uses the housing of Wii sensor bar clones, but includes just one of the two light arrays and places it in its middle. The former owner of my gun cut out holes in the front of the light bar and glued in the PCB in such a way that the LEDs protrude from the holes.

Personally I think it is very unfortunate that the gun misbehaves as soon as it doesn't sense light anymore. I crave for a good relative position light gun for a very long time now. This is also the reason why I am evaluating positional gun controllers and gyro guns. The Storm light gun does so many things right that it is even more agonizing to face its deal breaking flaws. If it had a high-pass light filter, a higher maximum mouse sensitivity and would stay passive when not sensing light this would be a very desirable controller. With all its flaws in place though, I wouldn't rate the controller higher than my custom "Steam Gun" which I showed in episode 109.

The box design is rather simple and has a certain "Chinese Gadget" vibe to it. The gun on the front was shot with a macro lens and blurs out towards the back. Combined with the used hard edges cut out, the image almost looks like a low quality render, albeit being a photo. Nevertheless I enjoy the box design.