So you’re heading up to your local video games store to pick up your copy of Gears of War 3. You’ve read the reviews, seen the trailers and are hyped for the game – and as always with major releases there’ll be a bunch of stuff on offer for the bigger fan. We’ve investigated some of the top products, high performance gaming headsets from Tritton and Mad Catz, to see how they hold up and if they’re worth a purchase alongside the game.
With Gears of War 3 offering four player co-operative play for the first time ever in the series, communication and alongside that the headset you use to accomplish it is more important than it has ever been in the series.
We got the chance to check out the Tritton Gears of War 3 Performance Gaming Headset which is based off the technology that makes the popular Tritton AX180 headsets tick with some large restylings on the visuals to make them look all very Gears of War 3.
It won’t come as a surprise to you all to know that the headset has had a black-and-red makeover, with the entire unit covered in the Gears of War colour scheme. Even the soft felt that adorns the inside of the ear-cups are a bright, blood red, while the outside of the headset features the Gears logo, the familiar red skull and cog that you’ll all be seeing multiple times as you take damage and die throughout the sequel.
Despite that, the design is quite understated. The guys at Tritton have been smart enough to keep key CGI artwork and other such things off the headset, opting simply for the familiar Gears imagery on the earpieces alongside the game’s name written across the headband, which won’t actually be visible when you’re wearing the headset.
It’s understated, and really just looks like a set of black-and-red AX180’s with some small Gears touches. Even the Gears logo on the headset control unit is small and unintrusive, which is exactly how such special edition designs should be. I found the red and black colour scheme rather nice and attractive.
In terms of the quality of the build and audio it is worth noting the AX180 sits towards the cheaper side of Tritton’s line-up. It feels durable and solid but also a little worryingly light, but as always with products like this it’s difficult to know for sure how these will fare without extended use. From the time I’ve had I’d say any adult who looks after their stuff shouldn’t have an issue, though there are more expensive Tritton products available should you wish to have something that can take a little more of a beating.
One handy decision by Tritton is the one to make the mic of the headset detachable. If you’re going into Gears or any other game single player, you need not worry about having something dangling in front of your face, and this also removes the danger of the mic getting snapped off if you leave the headset lying around.
The mic is also flexible with a thick, solid cable leading from it to the headset, meaning you can bend and twist it into a position that suits you and ensures it picks up your voice clearly. From use with friends and by recording voice messages and listening back the audio quality is crisp and clear and required me to speak less loudly and clearly than the standard, cheap Xbox headsets.
As well as sending your voice out to the world the headset also provides high quality game audio to you, allowing you to mute the TV and play into the small hours without disturbing anyone else, or just immerse yourself even deeper into the game at any time of day.
With gaming headsets being a rapidly growing market, Tritton’s AX180’s offer high quality stereo sound that will use the game sound mix to provide clever tricks to offer a surround-sound like experience at a lesser price. The headset have quite a daunting volume on them at full blast, though many will consider that a good thing.
The sound quality is crisp, clear and great-sounding, and the construction of the headset means that when it is on the noise of the outside world is thoroughly cancelled to the gamer and the reverse, also. The downside, of course, is that it’s stereo and not full surround – no matter how many tricks it plays.
The Audio Controller that’s included on the cable to the headset will dangle about at your lap and let you decide exactly what kind of audio experience you want. The controls are a little basic, but all-importantly let you decide if you want to hear the game audio, the chat audio, or both. You can control the volume of both game and chat audio independently, too.
As someone who has used higher-end Tritton headsets for a long time now, the addition in this range of the Selective Voice Monitoring technology is a very welcome one. This allows you to choose if you want to hear your own voice on the chat channel as well as everyone else’s, a feature that stops me from accidentally shouting things I only want to say because I can’t hear the volume of my own voice.
The headphones pull their power via USB and can in theory be plugged into the 360, PC or PS3, though the voice chat features are designed for and will only work on the 360.
If you’re looking for a high quality stereo headset for use across the board, the Tritton AX180s – and their Gears of War equivalent – are a more than worthwhile purchase. I can’t not recommend if you have the cash splashing out on a more expensive Tritton set such as the AX Pros, which have full 7.1 surround sound. There’s a Gears of War version of those available, too.
If you’re looking for a cheaper option, Tritton and Mad Catz have also put out a Gears of War branded Throat Mic. This military-style peripheral sits around your neck like the throat mic technology the military use, except this one also sports that black-and-red Gears colour scheme.
Extremely lightweight and with decent voice quality, this headset is an ideal alternative to the standard Xbox one if you fancy a change, and actually isn’t too dissimilar in terms of price. The neckband is adjustable and padded so it’s all very comfortable, while the single earpiece is high quality.
The Tritton Gears of War 3 Performance Headset and Gears of War 3 Throat Mic will be available in stores alongside Gears of War 3 for £89.99/$99.99 and £24.99/$29.99.