Written by John Yan
on 10/22/2007 for
A product to let you have a mouse control for console games has been done before but they've been pretty off in giving good performance. The folks atSplitFish think they have something that delivers for those wanting a good mouse setup for first person shooters. I actually went to New York a few weeks ago to check the product out as there's been some good buzz surrounding it. So with that let's take a look atSplitFish's FragFX for the PlayStation 3.
Rather than put out a product that lets you plug in your own keyboard and mouse like the old SmartJoy Frag, Splitfish's FragFX puts a controller and mouse in your hand. Made for right handed folks, the controller portion of the FragFx features a thumbstick, three triggers, a D-Pad, sensitivity dial, and a PS3/selector button. The controller fits rather comfortably in the left hand offering easy access to all buttons even for my small hands. Yes, it does bear a little resemblance to theWii's Nunchuk and it does house full Sixaxis movement so you can move the controller and have those movements translated in the game. The three triggers encompass the L1 and L2 as well as a Frag button What the Frag button does is lower the sensitivity of the mouse enabling you to be more precise with small movements for situations like sniping. If you want to adjust how sensitive the mouse is on the fly, just turn the dial up or down.
A seven button optical mouse is your means to aim and surf the store. On the left side where two thumb buttons normally would be are the four PlayStation buttons in a diamond formation. While the formation might seem a little odd, I found that it worked out pretty well and I was able to press the button I want without having to think about it after a little bit of practice. The mouse is on the smaller side and while it fit my small hands well, those with larger hands might have a little more difficulty being comfortable with it. There's the two main buttons, a button in place of where a scroll wheel would be, and the start button below that. The other mouse buttons correspond to R1, R2, and the right thumb stick button.
If your game doesn't let you adjust what the buttons do, the FragFX offers real time programming of the buttons on the controller so you can change what their functionality is depending on the game. Theonboard memory will save the configuration so that you won't lose what you have done once you turn off the console. This functionality is more valuable in console controllers than on PC peripherals since programmers sometimes limit the configuration of controls in their software.
Another nice little feature of the FragFX is that the product can be upgraded with firmware updates. If SplitFish finds a problem or discovers some improvements they can implement, all it takes is a software update to your FragFX and you're good to go. I hope more manufacturers for console peripherals support their product this way in the future and I'm gladSplitFish has taken this route with the FragFX.
If you aren't near a flat surface to use the mouse, the FragFX comes with a mouse pad and controller holster that you can use on your lap. The holster has a limited arc it can rotate on but I found that you can place it in there and still use all the buttons comfortably. The downside, of course, is that you won't be able to really use the Sixaxis functionality when it sits in there. Other than that, it's a nice alternative to a table if you have to play on your lap.A really nice feature about the FragFX is that you can download a program to your computer and customize the setup through a nice graphical user interface. Buttons and adjustment of pressure sensitivity is available with the softwareSplitFish provides. Just plug in the FragFX into an available USB port and you are good to go. There's a problem I'm currently running into though and that you must be running a 32-bit version of WindowsXP for this to run. I've tried Windows Server 2003 which is on my development computer and also Windows Vista 32-bit Business Edition and neither worked at all in recognizing that theFragFX was plugged in. Browsing a few boards, it seems that some people have problems with the software on Windows XP machines so I hope SplitFish is able to get the software to be solid in the near future.
So the game I decided to test the FragFX with is Resistence: Fall of Man. I programmed the controller to do the melee attack when I shook it and adjusted the sensitivity in both the game and the controller using the dial until I was comfortable. I've used a few other products before that tried to emulate a mouse setup but the FragFX is the best implementation so far. It's not perfect but it works well enough for me, a heavy PC fps gamer, to use. The movement does seem a little inconsistent though at times where I would turn fine but then I'd have bouts of stuttering. It didn't affect me too much but it did happen often enough to be a minor annoyance. The two mouse buttons don't feel as nice as a lot of other mice that i use. I think the spring feels a little too mushy and not as strong as my computer mice. Make no bones about it though, it made playing Resistance a lot easier for me since I'm so used to a mouse setup. I was definitely more accurate with the FragFX than I was with a regular controller. The combination of the Frag button and sniping really was nice to use. The Frag button is pressure sensitive so the harder you press the slower you move. I'll always prefer a mouse over a controller in FPS games and the mouse on the FragFX did a good job.
The left controller did feel pretty comfortable when I was holding it. The analog stick felt pretty good and snapped back into place pretty readily. When moving the analog stick, it offered good resistance and felt smooth moving around. The D-Pad also feels solid. Both the L1 and L2 buttons are of good size and I was easily able to tell I was pressing them compared to the smaller Frag button. The dial to adjust the sensitivity is out of the way enough for me not to reach it accidentally. Reaction to me shaking the controller was accurate and I even used the controller in a game of flOw without any problems.
By holding down the Frag button and pushing the PS/mouse button, the color of the button changes from blue to green indicating you are now in mouse mode. In mouse mode, the FragFX really makes browsing the PlayStation Store easier since the GUI is really setup like a browser on a computer with a cursor. If there's a choice between a controller and the FragFX, I'd definitely go with the FragFX to browse the store as it's more comfortable to use.
SplitFish's FragFX is a good alternative to the PlayStation 3 controller for playing first person shooters on the Sony console. Programmability through real time adjustment or through the GUI on a computer lets you customize the controller to your liking. You do get great support though as SplitFish will do anything it can to fix or help setup your controller. Also, the controller has a lifetime warranty. It's a little expensive though and it's not wireless but SplitFish is coming out with a wireless version of the FragFX which I'll be interested to see how well it does.
SplitFish's FragFX is a good alternative for first person shooters on the PlayStation 3. It's the most successful implementation of a mouse setup for a console to date.
Rating: 8 Good
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
I've been reviewing products since 1997 and started out at Gaming Nexus. After writing for a few different sites that went under, it's nice to bring back a site that's not dependent on revenue and just wants to deliver news and reviews of products.
I'm married, and enjoy first person shooters, sports games, and real time strategy games.