April 14, 2013

Penguin United Xbox 360 Keyboard Mouse Converter

Old habits die hard and one hardest ones for me to attempt to ditch in an attempt to play with some of my XBL brethren was the Keyboard and Mouse setup that I’ve become accustomed to on the PC over the past 17 years.

Some of you may be asking “Why would you lower yourself to playing games like Battlefield 3 on a console when you can play it on a PC at five times the visuals and speed?” the answer to that question is… I have friends who refuse to convert.  So in attempt to keep those friendships intact I’ve purchased games that I normally wouldn’t purchase on systems I normally wouldn’t play.  Primarily Battlefield 3(which I love) and Call of Duty: Black Ops II (which I can’t stand).

Obviously my biggest complaint with consoles is the lack of KB/M support and forcing me to play with, what I consider to be, an inferior control interface.  I gave it a good attempt on Battlefield 3 and the best scores, on rush, that I could come up with where 5/18 or around that on a fairly consistent basis and I would place last if not close to last every other game.  I gave this a go for about a month before I finally got fed up and started to look for a solution that would allow my old school gaming habits to function on ‘modern’ gaming consoles.

The solution came in the form of Penguin United’s Eagle-Eye Keyboard and Mouse Converter.  I decided to pick this up after I looked around the net for a solution and honestly when one of my friends *Xbox fantatic* told me to buy it.

So is it any good?  In short… yes but it does have some drawbacks.  Let’s start with the negatives:

The Bad:

This was confusing to configure even for an experienced System Architect like myself.  I eventually figured it out but it did take me about 6 hours from the moment I bought it to the point where I was playing.  There were several things about it that were hard to figure out but once I got it was smooth sailing from then one.  The biggest complaints I had were this:

You have to have a wired Xbox *official* controller otherwise you won’t be able to get the EagleEye to sync with your Xbox.  Yes you have to plug in the wired controller into your converter every time you start your xbox and connect it.  Connecting it, from what I can deduce, allows it to steal the licensing from the controller and emulate it on the controller.  Once it’s connected you’ll be fine until the next time you turn off your Xbox 360.

Sensitivity can be annoying.  I’m used to high sensitivity on the PC and on the console I was forced to pump the sensitivity all the way up to get it to the point where I could be competitive in games.  It’s still not what I would like but it’s far better than the alternative.

This complaint is specific to Battlefield 3 so I cannot speak to other games as the only two games I’ve played with this are Call of Duty: Black Ops II and Battlefield 3.  It’s hard to use any vehicles outside of the tank and even then it can be a challenge as it is VERY slow to turn turrets.  It’s hard to explain until you’ve used it but once you have you’ll understand.  Don’t even try flying a jet or a helicopter.

Finally the last complaint I had is having the right hardware.  This device only functions with specific hardware.  Do yourself a favor and do your research before you purchase this and purchase it with the proper Keyboard and Mouse combo.  I’ll do an article later on showing what I did to make it work.

The Good:

While there are… what some would consider a lot of negatives, there are a good number of positives as well, especially once you get everything configured the way you like it.

The biggest question is will this making playing an FPS on a console better?  Yes it will and by a good margin.  Yes graphics will still suck like they always do on consoles but at least from a controls perspective things will be much better.  I went from being 5/18 and near last on the team playing rush to going 35/5 on a fairly consistent basis and getting MVP 1 -3.  You can tell right off the bat that you have a pretty big advantage from other players by just the nature of controls.  Having said all that BF3 and COD: BO II don’t play the same on Xbox as they do on PC, they are much slower.

EagleEye comes with some pretty slick controller software.  It allows you to fully customize your keys on your controller to their keyboard and mouse equivalents.  Yes there are some that can’t translate over quite the way I’d like but it’s still much better than using a controller.  The biggest part is just memorizing what those are as you’ll still have to memorize what keys you’ve mapped to what controller buttons.  You’ll need to know these for navigating menus and such.  Once you’ve memorized those it’s smooth as butter.


Would I recommend this?  Yes… once you get past some of the quirks with go along with this product it’s a pretty slick product.  When you finally get it functioning it works really well aside from having to initialize it every time I start my Xbox.  Having said that it’s a price I’ll gladly pay to not have to deal with clumsy controls.  While this product does need some improvements in the form of ease of use it still gets TGB’s stamp of approval.  Anyone else had experience with this product?  What did you think?

You can check out Penguin Uniteds site here.  If you’d like to purchase it you can buy it at here. You can also purchase a PS3 version.


September 5, 2011

Aiming With a Mouse… Old Habits Die Hard

I’m one of those, a PC Gamer and when I can purchase a title (outside of sports and racing games) on the PC platform I do.  Having said that, I realize the industry as a whole has shifted to console as a primary development platform.  While I much prefer gaming on a PC I do own all the major gaming consoles (Wii, PS3, XBox 360) and own a good number of titles on each of the systems.   Most of my friends also play on console systems and as such a few years ago I branched out to play games that I traditionally would only play on PC such as FPS and RTS.

Growing up (I’m 26 by the way) the PC was the dominant platform when it came to multiplayer gaming online and industry standard.  It was also the leader in graphics, performance and modding.  The console phenomenom has taken away the majority of what made PC gaming great during the late 90’s and early 2000’s, pushing the limits of hardware, user created content and online communities.  These are all things that have taken a backseat with the current generations of gamers. 

For the most part, I have come to terms with this however there is one thing that I simply cannot put my mind around and that is using a controller instead of a keyboard and mouse for gaming.  This is especially true for FPS and RTS titles that seem to be flooding the console market.   I’ve had a the latest and greatest consoles back to the regular nintendo days and I have tried, really tried, to get my mind and fingers around the concept of aiming with a joystick instead of using a mouse and keyboard.  I actually took the time one day to calculate how long it took me to aim for a headshot on a standstill target on a console vs a mouse and the difference was staggering.  It took me at times, to get a precision shot almost 2 – 3 seconds (yes I had my wife time me) with the controller to less then a seconds on the same title on the PC (I used Mass Effect 2). 

I have noticed that on consoles the aiming mechanics are a lot less percise.  For example on Halo 3, with the battle rifle, you could swing the gun from left to right on the screen and as long as you passed over your opponents head you would get a headshot regardless of wheather or not you actually fired the shot accuretly or not.  I’ve also noticed with popular console titles like Call of Duty: Black Ops that I could litterly shoot to the side of my opponent and score a headshot. 

I noticed when I play on consoles I cannot seperate three of my fingers at a time.  Basically this means  that I can either move and fire, aim and fire, move and aim.  I can’t do all three at one time.  Perhaps this is what it is like to learn how to play the drums.  I also cannot wrap my mind around using a joystick to get a precision shot. 

Some might say that I am stuck in the past, learn how to play, or just give up gaming.  I think in my case old habits just die hard.  I suspect that I will never fully be able to compete on console systems, most definately not at the CAL and tournament level I used to be when I played Counter-Strike back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s.

Does anyone else feel the same way?  Does anyone actually find it easier to aim with a controller instead of a mouse?  Let us know your story!

February 19, 2011

R.A.T 7 Review: Gods Gift to Gamers?

If you are here you are probably wondering what the hell that weird looking $100 mouse is that you saw at your local microcenter, Best Buy or Newegg and if it is truly worth the rather steep price tag that is attached to it that my made your girlfriend question dating you and you wife consider leaving you. 

I decided to pick this mouse up after all the hype I have heard around it and the fact that every time I went to ask about it somewhere it was almost always sold out.  I have been going to my local Microcenter after work for 3 weeks now trying to pick one up.  I finally managed to get one today and have been playing with it. 

After opening the box and playing with it there several things that really stand out to me.  Have you ever heard the phrase “They don’t build things like they used to?”  Well, this is how they used to build things.  This mouse is sturdy and unlike the Razer Deathadder mouse that I have that feels and looks like it is made of cheap plastic this thing is made of  solid aluminum core and the plastic pieces are extremely sturdy.  I did not feel like I could break this mouse and to top it off the “clicking” of the buttons feels robust and responsive.  I actually feel like I could drop this or even throw it at a wall and the wall would probably take more damage then the mouse.  It also comes with some interchangeable parts that can be swapped out to change the overall feel of the mouse to suit your taste. 

One of the biggest selling points of this mouse was its completely adjustable to almost any hand configuration.  These advertisements are not oversold  and this mouse has more adjustments then a watch and it’s still stylish looking to boot.  I’ve got a oddly shaped hand so if I game for any extended amount of time or even just doing basic office work my hand will start to hurt.  The biggest thing I liked about this mouse is that I can elongate it to keep my wrist off of the desk.  This keeps it from putting pressure on the bottom of my hand and prevents me getting wrist pains after about an hour.  The mouse can be shortened, widened, elongated, and even adjust the weight of the mouse by removing the weights on the bottom of the mouse.  In total there are 15 different adjustments  that can be made on the house and literally hundreds of different layouts you could configure it to.  This mouse will fit nearly anyone’s hand and be comfortable.  This by itself is almost a deal maker for me. 

Well that’s all good that the mouse looks and feels good but does it perform?  The R.A.T 7 is a 5600 DPI mouse and it’s the smoothest gameplay and performance I have ever had.  In addition to that it comes with configurable software that lets you adjust it to your specific needs and sensitivity.  Some other features i feel that need to be mentioned is the DPI on the fly.  You can by pressing a button on top of the mouse change the DPI to 4 different levels.  This is great if your going from using a SMG to using a sniper rifle.  It will tone down the sensitivity greatly and give you far more control over your weapons or army management.  It also has a “Precision Aim” button which allows you to cut the DPI by a set amount by just pressing that button.  This is great if you are customizing it for a specific game or application such as Counter-Strike, Bad Company 2, or Call of Duty: Black Ops.

Is this mouse worth the heavy price tag?  In my opinion, if you are serious gamer, yes.  There are so many adjustments that can be made to that can improve your performance in your game big time.  In addition that it actually make it far more comfortable and safer to play games for extended periods of time.  This mouse may not be for everyone and the $100 price tag may put it out of reach for some people.  The R.A.T 7 is by the best mouse I have ever owned.  Anyone who is looking for a solid gaming mouse should look no further. 

*  There is also a wireless version of this mouse but I am not a big fan of wireless and it also carries a higher price tag.   I choose not to get it. 

Here is a video of the adjustments:


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