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"Mouselike" Precision for XBox 360 Games - Great, but not Perfect
on September 27, 2011
I just received my new FragFX 360 in the post today, and proceeded to spend the rest of the evening playing around with it, mostly on the 360 but a little bit on the PC as well (and also on my OnLive console, just for kicks). Here are my thoughts.
The TL;DR (short) version: this is a great product for those who want better precision in their 360 games, without having to purchase and play on an entirely different gaming system (PC).
The Longer Version: I am not at all a competitive gamer. I've never played any of the Call of Duty games or their ilk. I;ve played a lot of console shooters on PS2, PS3, and 360, but early last year I custom-built a sweet gaming PC rig and haven't touched my beloved XBox games since. It hasn't been for lack of desire, but instead because after getting so used to the sheer precision of mouse-based aiming in PC games, playing shooters on consoles again was next to impossible for me. I just couldn't excel at them anymore.
I was hoping that this FragFX 360 would allow me to play those console titles again, without having to bust my pocketbook for a much more expensive product like the XIM3 or similar devices. When it arrived, I quickly set it up (the installation is really, really simple) and plugged it into my wired XBox 360 controller (I picked one up at a local shop for $20 on the way home from work). The basic controls are like a Wii nunchuck paired with a high-DPI gaming mouse. The mouse part is large, which makes me happy - too frequently I'll get mouse peripherals that are too small and uncomfortable for my Large American Man Hands. This fits very nicely under my hand in more of a wide-palm "cup" grip than a tighter "claw" grip. The four buttons on the side are easy enough to reach with my thumb, although the Y button takes a tad maneuvering to reach, but nothing too inconvenient as to mess up game play.
The plastic seems of decent quality - about as sturdy as a regular XBox controller, I'd guess. The left-hand stick piece fits nicely into my hand as well, and the buttons are in logical and ergonomic positions. I had no problems using any of them. Button functions can be reconfigured on the fly, swapped back and forth and across the entire device with a second or two of function-button combos. I didn't try the macro or rapid fire functions, as I just don't know if I'll ever need them in the course of my usual gaming.
I don't remember seeing this advertised, but the purchase also included a nice full-sized mouse pad, which is on par with an older Razer pad I used a couple of years ago. I use a Vespula at my C, which I feel is superior to this included one, but it's still much better than any standard mouse pad you'd get at a department store,and much, much bigger. It had a nice wide surface area, without being too huge. It fit nicely on my IKEA "Dave" laptop stand which I used while playing in my living room.
I pulled a few games off my shelf and game them a try, including Perfect Dark Zero, Dead Space 2, Left 4 Dead, Vanquish, Mass Effect, Dragon Age, and Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena. The results were quite varied. The best results came from Riddick, which already features its own _really_ detailed sensitivity customization menu - the kind of control customization I wish that all games would feature these days. With just a small amount of tweaking using the game's menus and the device's own built-in Dead Zone (ooOOoooOOOOoooohhh) adjuster, I was able to quickly set myself up with one finely-tuned gaming mouse. Playing it was even more precise than I remember playing Butcher Bay back on the PC. Left 4 Dead and Vanquish were almost exactly the same, and played wonderfully.
However, on the flip side, playing Mass Effect was a chore with this device. The sensitivity in that game cannot be adjusted high enough to make using the FragFX very beneficial, even with the device adjustment wheel set to maximum sensitivity. Perfect Dark Zero (an underrated gem, IMHO) was similarly limited in its in-game tweaks, and seemed to control more smoothly with the actual 360 controller than with the FragFX.
I only really played Dragon Age to see if the mouse could give the console version a slightly more "PC-feeling" experience than before. Surprisingly, it actually did manage to make the game control somewhat better. Giving commands was a bit quicker than before, and aiming spells and abilities was much more precise, requiring less and shorter pauses to really dominate combat.
I gave it a whirl both on my gaming PC and on my OnLive console, trying out Left 4 Dead 2 and Metro 2033 on the former, and Warhammer 40k: Space Marine on the latter. All three performed remarkably. In fact, I would consider using the FragFX in L4D2 permanently were not my current PC gaming mouse much more expensive and accurate. It handled very well, and I was surprised that I was able to play so expertly using it. Metro 2033 was a tad less accurate, but playable, with Space Marine functioning similarly.
I am satisfied with this purchase. I hope that as more XBox games try to be taken seriously, they will be released with more sensitivity options, and this device will truly excel. It is by no means perfect, but it is sturdy, comfortable (a major, major plus for me), and very easy to use right out of the box. In the end, I played most of those XBox games _much_ better than I ever did before, that's for certain.
EDIT: I played the 360 version of Dead Island with this device today, and it is pretty amazing. The mouselook is smooth and precise, and the control precision actually beats that of Dark Athena, above. I recommend re-mapping the kick to the right mouse button, however.