eDimensional have told me that this product has had a great impact on gaming in the flight-sim arena, and after reviewing the product I think this product is something that we sim-racers are missing out on.
21 July 2005
So, what exactly is AudioFX and Voice Buddy? For a bundle price of $79.95 you can purchase both these two products. This is basically a two-part system that works independently of one another through a headset supplied by eDimensional which is specially designed to work optimally with Voice Buddy.
AudioFX can be described as “audio force feedback”; it works by detecting sound pulses from the game you are playing and generating a resultant vibration. AudioFX detects sounds that cannot be heard by the human ear and changes these into vibrations. For example, if you are in a racing game and another car buzzes past you'd feel the vibration, as would you if were playing a first person shooter and something explodes.
For this review I will focus mainly on the Voice Buddy system, although AudioFX is detailed later as well.
I found the headset itself very comfortable and even after several hours of play it did not irritate me at all. The sound quality from the headset is comparible with those at double the price, and that's before we even get onto Voice Buddy!
So what is Voice Buddy?
Voice Buddy is a speech recognition system that allows greater user control in-game without impeding on gameplay by using your voice to carry out given commands. In effect, you literally tell the game what to do.
It works by using Microsoft's Speech recognition software combined with individual game modules that allow it to work in a given game. With Voice Buddy version 3.0, all current game modules are now included in one application. The modules for individual games include a wide variety of presets based on ingame keyboard command configurations, however you can delete or add to these as you please by programming your own voice binds.
Before I go into more detail I must inform our international viewers that Voice Buddy currently only works with the English language. It will however work with pretty much any form of “accented” English, so if English is not your first language don't worry, Voice Buddy will still work! It does not matter what language version of the game you are using.
For this review, I tested the headset with Live For Speed and F1 Challenge 99-02. There are also modules available for NASCAR Thunder 2003 & 2004, as well as currently 60 other games from various different genres.
Throw that keyboard away...
The great thing about Voice Buddy is that it allows you to keep your hands completely free from the keyboard. When playing Live For Speed online the last thing you want to be doing is typing keyboard commands whilst trying to use a racing wheel at the same time. Voice Buddy completely removes the need to do this.
Every keyboard command in Live For Speed (and any other supported game) is pre-programmed into the LFS Voice Buddy module. So, for example, should you want to send an preset ingame message such as “good pass” instead of either typing this, or using the default keyboard shortcut (which is incidentally F3) you simply say “good pass” and as if by magic it comes up! Want to change to driver's view? Simple, just say “driver view”. How about changing screen resolution? Instead of hitting “shift+F12” just say “Change screen res to high”.
For the full matrix of Life For Speed Voice Buddy command presets, click here (opens in a new window).
As well as the presets, you can fully customize VoiceBuddy to your commands; if you wanted to say something such as “You are driving like a madman” you can simply bind this to voice command “Say one”, or if you like just “one”. In theory, you can even drive purely by Voice by using the corresponding “brake”, “accelerate” and “turn” voice commands, but as I found out this is quite hard!
Voice Buddy will also respond to let you know what it has done, so, by saying “screen shot” the game will take a screenshot and Voice Buddy will respond by saying “screen shot” to let you know that one has been taken.
With the Voice Buddy Live For Speed module, Voice Buddy can also act as a driving instructor, so, for example, by saying “teach me about tire pressure” Voice Buddy will respond with “Increase front and you get increased under steer, decreased grip in corners, increased temperature in the middle of the front tires and potentially increased wear of front tires due to excess pressure...” and so on… and if you want it to shut up, just say “Voice Buddy, shut up!” and it will!
You can also use Voice Buddy with other in-game communication systems such as Roger Wilco or Team Speak, by using “go to sleep” and “wake up” verbal commands.
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