Author - MondoPest

Cyber Snipa Warboard Gaming Keyboard Review

The Warboard is Cyber Snipa’s flagship gaming keyboard. Here are the advertised features from Cyber Snipa’s Site

  • Unique ‘Macro Force’ Software
  • Anti-ghosting key architecture
  • 104 keys
  • 10 dual mode (20x) macro programmable buttons
  • 10 multimedia keys
  • 17 replaceable custom combat keys
  • System: Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows ME
  • Connection: USB

Design/Construction:
The Warboard features a very solid plastic outer shell, with a slick ‘armor plate’ graphic finish. There are five vertical macro keys on each side of the unit, and the outer casing around the macro-key areas is rubberized. It also comes with a rubberized wrist rest which we really found to be very comfortable in comparison to standard, plastic rests. It is also detachable for those of you who do not like using keyboard wrist rests. The ‘lock’, macro, and ‘bullseye’ keys all illuminate pretty blue led lights in the upper right-hand corner of the keyboard. We really like the looks of the Warboard. Aesthetically, it is very pleasing. Many gaming keyboards today tend to just go with an all black or silver finish. The Warboard’s design has style. Also, for as sturdy as the device feels, it is fairly light, making it easy to transport.

Usage:
Its action while gaming is very nice. The keys have a slight softness to them but are not so squishy as to have no spring-back. In addition, the 17 interchangeable keys have little gaming icons on them in case you want to make remembering what key does what a heck of a lot easier. Cyber Snipa’s provided tool makes swapping them out very simple.

The macro program allows gamers to record two different macros to each macro button via a very well-done GUI, making the total number of macro keys come to 20. It cannot record mouse movements as of yet, however. The control array at the top of the Warboard features a center key with the Cyber Snipa ‘Bullseye’ on it as well as media controls. The center key disables the Windows keys on each side of the space bar.

Thanks to the Warboard’s Anti-Ghosting technology, the cavalcade of button mashes we rained down on the keyboard during our Call of Duty IV trials went splendidly. Each key receives its own channel of communication to the computer, making it so that the dreaded Windows Sticky-Keys is not activated and also avoids a PC lock-up while it tries to figure out what keys were pressed in which order.

Function in the desktop environment was more than good enough with the keys providing a good amount of shock absorption if you have to stay up for hours typing out your homework…or a gaming keyboard review. I found myself actually using the media keys on this board unlike many others which feature small buttons. The media controls on the Warboard are robust in size with large, easy-to-understand diagrams on them of their function.

Our Druthers:
As solid as the Warboard is, there are a couple things that it could feature which would push it out in front of the saturated gaming keyboard crowd. Most notably – internal lighting. Many gaming keyboards feature some sort of internal lighting for dark-condition gaming these days. Without it, the Warboard needs an external light source. Also, the the keyboard could do with a USB and headset pass-through.

Summary:
Overall, the Cyber Snipa Warboard is a very solid keyboard with many nice features. Its lack of internal lighting does hurt it slightly in the ratings, but with a price point as low as $50 depending on the retailer, it is an excellent mid-range keyboard that performs like a keyboard selling for $30 dollars more.

You can find the Cyber Snipa homepage here.

Combat Mission Shock Force Review

Battlefront has been developing and publishing computer wargames for many years now. Such titles include TacOps, which is used as a US Army training tool, as well as the Combat Mission series. The latest in the Combat Mission series is called Shock Force.

About the Game
Combat Mission Shock Force (CMSF) is a real-time or turn-based strategy game set in the modern world. This is in opposition to the rest of the Combat Mission series which have been set during World War II. CMSF features a single-player campaign which chronicles an invasion of Syria by the United States as well as a Quick Battle generator and Scenario Editor. It also features several multiplayer options including play-by-email.

Gameplay
Combat in CMSF depends a bit on what gameplay mode you choose to play in (real-time or turn-based). In real-time play, it runs alot like any other RTS. However, with CMSF, you can pause the game and give orders for your units to carry out when play resumes. This is an exceptional ability as strategy is the single most important element in successfully playing CMSF. While in turn-based mode (which uses the ‘WeGo’ system found in other CM games), the game runs in phases. Players will first issue orders to their troops and then set the action phase in motion. In that phase, which lasts one real-world minute, orders can no longer be sent and you get to watch the consequences of your choices unfurl, good or bad.

There are a multitude of orders to give units, and are split into four categories: Movement, Combat, Special, and Administrative. Different movement orders trade speed for vigilance, for instance, there are even orders for a unit to cover a specific firing arc – useful when running vehicles together in formation. Infantry can go into buildings (any of the various floors including the roof) for shooting position and cover, and can even tire out from running too far of a distance. All commands are stackable to help make sure your unit’s next action is not its last. In addition, morale plays a huge part in determining your troops’ willingness to follow your orders and their success in battle.

Players can command many types of units, from M1A2 battle tanks, to ‘unconventional’ forces. The armament of each unit was taken from military spec and it shows. The previously mentioned unconventional units come in many shapes from ‘Technicals’ to foot soldiers which can plant IEDs across the battlefield.

Replayability
CMSF offers the single-player campaign, a host of single missions, and a quick-battle generator which randomly creates a mission on-the-fly, based on your selected options. This greatly extends the life of this title, as every encounter is different.

AI
Enemy AI is fairly good once higher difficulties are selected. In the lowest settings, we found that enemy units will tend to sit in one spot during quick-battle missions. In fact, the higher difficulty settings can be too much sometimes. In one quick-battle, I was running my forces through a city attempting to engage the enemy at the far end (or so I thought). Much to my surprise, they had taken up residence in a building alongside one of the roads which one of my Strykers was traveling up. They proceeded to effectively ambush the Stryker, destroying it with an RPG. The ensuing chaos of locating available assets, diverting them to assist, and at some point attempting to storm the building was extremely eerie given today’s urban combat environment.

Graphics
CMSF features very functional graphics. They are sometimes very pretty, but almost always have that ‘military simulator’ look to them. The saving grace of the graphics in the game are the units, which are modeled, amazingly, to the smallest detail. Unit animations are pleasantly fluid as well. However, the graphics go to the ‘plain’ side quickly when looking at the environment. The far-off background seems parallaxed but it is of a lower resolution and appears slightly distorted. The street objects such as buildings, light poles, etc are all of low-polygon count but with the detail work on the units, you really don’t notice. The camera is nicely controllable, and can get to virtually any angle a commander could need to get battlefield awareness. Tracer fire runs rampant in CMSF, and when a battle starts heating up, the rounds fly and ricochet all over the place. It can truly be a spectacular gaming sight.

Initially, we were having some difficulties getting solid frame rates out of the title and out test rig is running an 8800gtx in Windows XP Pro 32-bit. As it turns out, there is an optimization in the Nvidia graphics card that was causing a whole host of troubles called ‘threaded optimizations’. After being disabled, the frame rate improved considerably. We expect it to get even better given Battlefront’s track record of long-term product support and patching.

Sound
Sound design in CMSF is very realistic, and all the vehicle/weapon noises were recorded from their real-world counterparts. Sound is positional, allowing you to go from faint weapons fire when hovering on high, looking down at the battle, to the bone rattling roar of vehicles moving about and even idle infantry chatter from a soldier’s eye-level.

Music
The score for CMSF is of the standard action-fare, with hard drumming military marches, electric guitar madness, and even the occasional sitar.

Multiplayer
Multiplayer can be done several ways in CMSF. The first way is to play over IP or LAN. The game can also be played on a single PC in a ‘hotseat’ mode or even a play-by-email option. Not many games allow play-by-email these days and it is a welcome addition for when friends cant play together at the same time.

Conclusion:
After spending quite some time with Combat Mission Shock Force, I have to say it is one of the most fun battle simulations I have ever played. It has the eerie realism of an embedded journalist’s footage coupled with the fun of a puzzle game. As previously stated, strategy is everything in this game. The game has a moderate learning curve but, once gotten the hang of, it is very rewarding.

Gamplay Video from Youtube:

Uwe Boll Puts Down Spielberg

In an email to Bloody Disgusting, Uwe Boll puts down Steven Spielberg, saying ‘Spielberg gets sloppy. We saw that with War of the Worlds (why the fuck the older brother survived?) and also in parts of Jaws, E.T., Munich etc.!’

He goes on to say, ‘My performance in Postal as ‘Nazi Theme Park Owner’ outperforms easily Ben Kingsley in Schindler’s List!’

What kind of Bizarro World does he fricken live in!?! Hopefully, this is just him trying to stir the pot of publicity for his sure-fire crap fest, Postal.
It gets better, as Boll will release his masterpiece of modern cinema against the new Indiana Jones movie…. His failure is almost complete…muhahaha….

Microsoft Sidewinder Gaming Mouse Review

Partnering with Razer once before, the Sidewinder is Microsoft’s first solo attempt at creating a gaming mouse. The Sidewinder is a very funky looking peripheral, having the appearance of something John Travolta’s character would have used in Operation Swordfish. I know it is a bizarre reference, but it means the mouse looks futuristic and cool. Its slightly blocky however, and my ring and pinky fingers never fit on the mouse quite right. In addition, it is fairly large, being roughly the same size as the Logitech G7 but more robust. The size could be a problem for folks with small hands. The Sidewinder features a mostly black plastic body with two vertical metal thumb buttons on the left side of the mouse, metallic scroll wheel, optional weights, three different dpi buttons below the scroll wheel, dpi-displaying LCD screen, and a ‘quick-turn’ option. The primary and secondary mouse buttons would be better off being rubberized like the sides of the mouse are. In their current state, the primary and secondary buttons are a bit too ‘slippery’ for my tastes.

The two vertical metal thumb buttons on the left side of the mouse are easily clickable, allowing access to two control buttons in a space usually designed for one in other mice. The thumb buttons are a bit smaller than usual mouse side-buttons, however they depress very nicely with a tactile click.

The Sidewinder features a metallic scroll wheel with a great action. Weighted, so that it is not mistakenly turned as well as detentes to allow the user better control, the wheel feels alot sturdier than on other mice we have tried and is easily one of the best features on this mouse.

With the click of a button on the underside of the unit, the Sidewinder’s weight tray will pop out to allow the user access to its three weight-slot tray. Microsoft has packaged the mouse with three 10g weights and one 5g weight. The box which the weights are packaged in also contains two different sets of feet for the mouse so you can choose the one with the glide most to your liking. The weight box can also be used to anchor the mouse chord in place, giving the user some slack in normal usage. We applaud Microsoft for giving the Sidewinder this many customization options.

Below the scroll wheel sit three buttons which change the Sidewinder’s dpi setting. These three different levels of sensitivity are set within Microsoft’s software provided with the device. When clicked, the red LCD screen on the mouse will light up with the current dpi setting of the button. This is the first time ever that a company has placed an LCD screen on a gaming mouse. Personally, I did not find much use for the screen as I did not forget what dpi button I assigned which setting, but, it is a cool addition. However, if you happen to be in an intense LAN game and forget what you set each button to, no worries, it is right there on the display – nice!

Inside the software provided for the mouse, which basically just adds features to the standard Windows’ mouse control panel, is the option to set the buttons of the mouse to whatever controls you would like. They also provide the option of setting one of the buttons to be a ‘Quick Turn’ control. When pressed, the mouse will cause you on-screen character to do a 180 degree turn – quite useful in tight spots. Gamers can also record macros in-game using the Sidewinder’s macro button. This on-the-fly capability adds an additional layer of flexibility while in the heat of battle.

The performance is very good while gaming with the laser sensor set to 2000dpi (the highest setting available) but when using desktop applications I found it appropriately ‘non-jumpy’ at 1600dpi. The sensor will decrease to 200dpi at its lowest setting and works great for super-fine sniper shots.

Conclusion:
Even though there are better mice out there when measuring pure dpi/response rate alone, one cannot dispute the amount of customization available to gamers with the Sidewinder. With its durable construction and solid performance, it is hard NOT to recommend this mouse to those looking for a gaming mouse. The biggest factor in deciding to use this mouse would be the size/shape, which not everyone will find to their liking.

Manga Studio 3 Review

Smith Micro Graphics’ Manga Studio 3 is the latest in their award winning line of manga/comic creation programs. Manga, for those of you who don’t know, is a form of Japanese comic book, which has become especially popular here in the States.

Let me preface this by saying I am not an artist by trade. Sure, I dabble here and there with 3D Studio MAX but every artistic application has its own quirks and methods of accomplishing a task. As such, I approached this program as a total nugget.

Upon starting the application, I noticed that the general layout of the program is similar to Adobe Photoshop in that your basic control box is on the left side of the screen while your layer, tone, and history boxes are on the right side.

Creating a single page in Manga Studio from start to finish is a seven step process. The first step is to pencil out a rough sketch, so I selected the pencil tool and began to eek out a very bad rendition of a space ship. What I found to be truly incredible was that, since I was using a graphics tablet to do my drawing, that Manga Studio responded to the pressure I exerted on the pad and changed the line stroke accordingly. This gives drawing in the program a much more natural feel than using just the mouse.

The next step in the process is to ink your sketch. So, I created a new layer for inking and selected the pen tool. Inking is basically tracing over the outlines of your sketch (avoiding all the unnecessary lines) with the pen tool. Again, Manga Studio adapted to my changes in pen pressure and drew the lines with different stroke widths to compensate. The inking stage is where you really start utilizing the ability to have multiple layers on a project. By using more than one layer, you compartmentalize ink of certain areas. This way, if you don’t like a specific layer you can delete that ink without erasing other sections around it. After the inking is completed, you have the option of erasing your pencil layer entirely or, like I did, just setting it to invisible.

Step three and four are to shade and texture, or, tone your scene. Selecting an area to shade or texture can be done in several ways. These methods should be familiar to anyone who has used an Adobe product. There is a magic wand tool as well as free-form lasso tools to select an area. Once I selected my desired area, I opened up the Tones window and double-clicked the tone I wanted to shade in the area with. Tones are basically the way a comic is given a sense of depth, usually with some sort of close-knit pattern to give texture as well as shading. I found this to be the most difficult process as trying to use the magic wand tool proved to be difficult if I did not make sure all of my ink lines are closed off. Otherwise it would select outside the area I wanted to shade. This being the case, I mostly stuck with the lasso tools to manually mark off my areas. Manga Studio comes with a huge number of preset tones for you to use. You can even create new ones and save them for later if you like.

Adding speed & concentration lines is the next order of the day and Manga Studio provides very useful tools for making this relatively easy. One thing I noticed was that it was very easy to get lost in your list of layers. An important tip would be to label layers very carefully as to keep them organized.

After adding your line effects, it is time to add thought/speech bubbles and text. Manga Studio allows you to create ‘organic-style’ bubbles and writing text is extremely simple. Adding text in Manga Studio is much like adding it to an image in Photoshop.

Finally, it is time to publish the page and export it into whatever file you like. Manga Studio will allow you to export your pages to .bmp, .jpg, and .psd image types. As I expected, my drawing was awful and, as such, I will not show them to you out of total embarassment. Instead, I will regale you in the image gallery with screenshots of other people’s Manga Studio work.

Final Thoughts: When read, this page creation process might not seem that daunting, and to tell the truth it isn’t after you have used the software for a while. As a newbie, though, you are bound to be a bit overwhelmed at first. Just keep learning how to use it and you should find it quite rewarding. If you are an aspiring comic artist or even an established artist looking to move into your own publications: Manga Studio 3 is for you!

You can find the Manga Studio homepage here.

Logitech DriveFX Review

Logitech. The name brings up thoughts of numerous gaming peripherals from mice to pro flight yokes. The DriveFX is Logitech’s current racing wheel for the Xbox 360. It touts several features and we are about to get down and dirty with the unit to put them to the test.

Features:
   *  Axial Feedback Technology: Get behind the wheel and let the authentic road feel guide your way.
* Standard Xbox 360® Buttons: Jump right in without learning anything new.
   *  Adjustable-Sensitivity Steering: Put customizable control in your grasp.
* Gas and Brake Pedals: Get instant response with true-to-life pedals.
* Wheel-Mounted Paddle Shifters: Shift through the gears lightning fast with F-1 style paddle.
*  Injection Molded Wheel: Keep your hands comfortable with this seamless 10-inch wheel.
* Soft Rubber Grips: High grade non-slip grips provide unparalleled comfort during intense racing.

Design/Construction: The DriveFX is primarily made of black, hard plastic. It has a sharp, professional appearance which exudes quality. The DriveFX is not a lap-friendly wheel, meaning it was designed to be clamped down to a table, desk, or gaming chair mount of less than three inches thick. This is evident in the two large clamps that extend from the bottom of the unit. Any gamer familiar with a pro-flight yoke for their PC knows what I say is true: the unit is VERY stable when clamped down to a surface, even though in this case the clamps are not rubberized. So while many gamers will miss the ability to slap a racing wheel onto their laps and play, trust us when we say: This is better.

The construction of the DriveFX’s wheel is excellent. It feels very solid and the rugged rubber grips add a great amount of control when turning the wheel. Two small paddle shifters are located on the back side of the wheel. They are not levers but instead, buttons activated by angled plastic pieces that replicate paddles. Even though the button press is not as realistic as a lever’s motion, it is more precise and consistent. The standard Xbox controller buttons and directional ‘D’ pad are located in the inner-area of the wheel. They were all within reach of my thumbs which allowed me to easily activate them while in the middle of a race.

The wheel unit is connected via serial port to the pedal unit. The pedals are the weaker of the two links in this package, as they do not feel nearly as solid as the wheel. In addition, the pedals’ base unit where they expect you to rest your foot was not long enough for my feet and I only wear size 13 men’s shoes. Alright, so that may be asking alot, but with it being as thin as it is, my foot was not at the most comfortable of angles to hit the pedals. It would be fine for maybe 45 minutes of play, but after that my lower legs would definitely need some moving about. The pedals are pressure sensitive, which adds a great deal of control to accelerating and braking while gaming, so that is one great thing about them.

The serial port connects to the back side of the wheel unit next to the input for the included AC adapter. Unfortunately, there is no fastening device (thumbscrews or otherwise) to keep the serial connector in the port. If moved around, the connector could come loose.

Gaming: We tested our wheel out in Burnout Paradise as well as Forza 2. The features we have mentioned thus far are all well and good while gaming. The unit is very sturdy and reliable. THE best feature of this unit however, is its ‘Axial-Feedback’ technology. Microsoft has been stingy with its trademarked Force Feedback platform, so only select wheels can use it. The DriveFX is one peripheral that cannot use it, so Logitech has created their own feedback system which is almost as good – better in some respects.

The Axial Feedback system detects rumble signals that would normally be translated into a shaky control pad and instead, attempts to translate that into wheel feedback. Running off the track will cause the wheel to vibrate and give you enough feedback to know something is a miss and you should watch where you are going. This feedback response is just one part of the Axial Feedback system and is where Force Feedback would be better as the effect was never strong enough for our tastes.

Aside from this, there is an absolutely amazing counter-torsion or, return-to-center, drag inherent in the Axial Feedback system. Most times in Force Feedback wheels, the return to center effect is too unnatural, feeling like you are being shoved back to the center point instead of how a real car acts, more like a gentle dragging motion. The DriveFX captures this ‘drag’ very well, and is where the AF system thrives and pulls ahead of a Force Feedback design. If there was a way to get Force Feedback effects with the Axial Feedback’s return-to-center drag the unit would be a perfect 10.

Conclusion: Logitech’s DriveFX gaming wheel is an excellent choice for driving games on the Xbox 360. While not a true ‘Force Feedback’ wheel, it outshines that technology in it’s counter-torsion effect. In addition, it is the sturdiest, most rugged wheel we have seen for the console at this time.

Savage 2: A Tortured Soul Review

Savage 2 is a multiplayer game where two teams, one from the Human faction and the other from the Beast faction, fight it out in a struggle to destroy the other’s base while at the same time expanding their own. This concept is familiar to anyone who has ever played a real-time strategy game before. In Savage 2, you can command your units as the force commander through a top-down interface. The only difference is that the Builder unit you select and give orders to deploy a structure to…is a real playing character. Thats right, Savage 2 is a shooter/action game inside of a real-time strategy shell.

Jumping into a game of Savage 2, you will find the option to join either the Human or Beast team. Each side has their assortment of character classes to play, with each class having a melee mode and a ranged mode, in addition to any special skills the unit might have. After selecting your side, you will be given the option to join a squad on that team – or even lead a squad if you are experience enough. Now that you are on a squad, it is time to enter the game.

Your commander can view the battlefield from a top-down RTS view when inside one of your side’s lairs. From there the commander will select any players or squads to carryout any tasks desired. There is nothing quite like telling one of your builder units in an RTS to build a structure somewhere, then watching that unit completely disobey orders and build something else at another location. This can be an issue in Savage 2, which will in turn garner the disobeyer a good chat-flogging or even getting booted from the server, so that works as a good system of checks and balances.

Playing as a non-commanding unit in Savage 2 can be a varied experience in terms of what is expected of you. There are a set number of classes to choose from on each side, and some have to be unlocked by your side having built or captured certain structures. Each unit has a melee mode and a ranged weapon mode in addition to special class abilities which can be anything from shape shifting to taming pets. Human unit’s ranged ability can be upgraded when their side builds an Armory. There are even siege units, such as battering rams and ballistas, which can be taken as a class when your base upgrades enough. These siege units are critically important in taking down a well-defended enemy base.

The melee combat system is well-handled and provides an additional level of sophistication you usually don’t see anywhere but fighting games. There are three types of melee move, the first of which being a ‘basic’ attack. Then there is a ‘blocking’ move which will shield you from the basic attack move. To counter blocking, you can use an ‘interrupt’ move which will stun a blocking opponent, leaving him or her open for an attack move or offensive ability. This level of tactics can sometimes degrade into button-mashing when the Bantha pudu hits the fan, leaving the frenzied player open to the onslaught of a thinking opponent which can easily waste them. I was surprised how many enemy players would seemingly ‘freak-out’ while fighting me and start spamming their attack buttons. I would be able to keep blocking their attacks until a moment when I has a break to cut out from behind my shield and take a slice out of them.

The graphics of Savage 2 are not the best on the market right now by any means, however, they are colorful and of quality production. In game audio is okay, with nothing to really make that aspect of the experience standout. Savage 2’s musical score is nice, having a very ‘epic fantasy’ feel to it which helps set the mood of your matches.

Currently, only the ‘Conquer’ gameplay mode is available, but S2 Games has said they are planning to release more game types in the future. Savage 2 has no subscription system, but instead a one-time fee for life of $29.95. Matches are recorded and can be reviewed back at any time on the Savage 2 website, which is host to a very impressive user-statistics tracking system.

Conclusion:
Savage 2 is a fun RTS/Shooter hybrid that manages to combine both aspects into a very cohesive system. The game can be a bit daunting to new players though and with so much going on, even experienced gamers can feel overwhelmed sometimes.

Black Lion Announces Shadow Harvest

German developer Black Lion Studios has announced an advanced third-person shooter called Shadow Harvest, for the PC and Xbox 360 platforms. No word yet on a PS3 release. Using gameplay similar to the current ‘two-people vs the world’ seen in Kane & Lynch and Army of Two, Shadow Harvest will have you bounce between the two main characters in order to complete mission objectives. Mastering both of their abilities will be crucial and necessary.

Official Release:

Shadow Harvest* is a highly immersive 3rd-person tactical action game set in the year 2025 on various current and future points of conflict around the globe. The game is in development for PC and XBOX 360. Featuring dual character control, amazingly realistic graphics and a refreshingly different storyline, Shadow Harvest is a completely new interpretation of the tactical-action genre. Being an ISA* agent, the first character, Myra Lee, has a background in espionage and stealth operations, while the other character, Aron Alvarez, is a hard-boiled close combat specialist of US Army’s Delta Force. Both characters are deployed as elite black-ops agents on various hot spots worldwide and behind enemy lines to cooperatively complete covert operations.

Buku Sudoku Coming to Xbox Live Arcade

Sudoku fans, rejoice, for your dreams of playing the popular logic game on your Xbox 360 are about to come true. Scheduled for a second quarter release, Merscom’s Sudoku promises ‘innovative competitive and cooperative play’. It should be interesting to see how they add the multiplayer aspect to the usually solitary game.

CEO of Merscom, Kirk Owen, had this to say, ‘We are really excited about the release of Buku Sudoku, as it takes the proven and popular gameplay of Sudoku to a new level.’

Official Release:
January 31, 2008 – Merscom announced it will be publishing this Spring Buku Sudoku, the first Sudoku game for the Xbox LIVE Arcade system. The first, and only, Sudoku title for the Xbox LIVE Arcade, Buku Sudoku brings the worldwide Sudoku phenomenon to the Xbox LIVE Arcade while adding innovative competitive and cooperative play features.

Logitech G9 Gaming Mouse Review

Logitech has a history of making very good gaming mice. I owned an mx512 and a G7, enjoying them both very much. In fact, I originally owned a Logitech ‘huge’ trackball I used to play Tribes with…but I digress. Enter, the G9. This is their new flagship unit and we got a chance to put it through its paces.

The first thing you notice about the G9 is its peculiar form factor. It seems to ‘bend’ to the right the further towards its input cable you go. This design fits very nicely with the natural architecture of your right hand. Its outer shell is a rugged black plastic and has a ‘braided’ input cable unlike most other mice which have standard rubber cables. This braided design makes the cable very durable and tear-resistant.

The mouse comes with two interchangeable outer grips that are made for different uses. The first is called the ‘Wide Load Grip’ and, as the name suggests, is the wider and more contoured of the two. It features a black satin finish for what Logitech calls the ‘ultimate in comfort’. The second grip, called the ‘Precision Grip’, has a much more narrow form with an outer coating of ‘DryGrip’ technology. The DryGrip coating is suppose to help wick away moister during long game sessions. Of the two, I found the Wide Load Grip to be the best for my large hands, with the Precision Grip feeling just a bit too narrow for me. Although I like the DryGrip coating alot more than the satin finish of the Wide Load. They unlock from the base mouse unit with the touch of a button and go on with a snap.

A large assortment of weights come with this mouse as well, in a very handy and portable aluminum casing. You get four 4 gram and four 7 gram weights in the set. The mouse features a retractable weight tray in the palm rest capable of carrying any combination of four weights inside the unit. I like my mice heavy for better control, so I loaded it up with the full 28 grams of weight. The mouse feels much more solid at this weight and is less prone to jumpy movements.

Logitech uses a 3200 dpi Laser sensor in the G9, and the sensitivity can be adjusted by a rocker switch below the primary mouse button on the fly, and without any software needing to be installed. A set of LED lights give you a visual cue as to what setting the mouse is using. While a very solid sensor, it can be a bit ‘jumpy’ at its highest sensitivity with no weight in the mouse. After adding the aforementioned weight to the unit, this was no longer an issue.

Even the G9’s scroll wheel is unique in that it can operate in two modes. The first is what is called ‘MicroGear Precision’, in which the user receives ‘detentes’ while scrolling. The wheel is more ‘locked-down’ in this mode, allowing one movement between detentes for better control of selection. ‘Hyper-Fast Scrolling’ is the second mode and releases the wheel from the detentes, allowing it to spin freely. It spins so freely, in fact, that if you roll it quickly and let it go the wheel continues to spin for a while after. This mode is great for making your way across very ‘tall’ documents or web pages in an extremely timely manner.

Using the included Logitech ‘SetPoint’ software, you are able to program the G9 with five unique profiles for various needs from gaming, word processing, you name it.

The biggest issue I have with the mouse are the narrow buttons. I, as previously stated, have large hands and I find that my forefinger has a tendency to set off to the left of the primary button a bit. This can make it a bit of a strain sometimes to keep my forefinger in the correct position. If the primary button was slightly wider, this would not be an issue.

Conclusion: We have found the Logitech G9 to be a joy to use and, despite the narrow buttons, it offers a HUGE degree of flexibility and options to its handler. From gaming to desktop usage, it performs exceptionally well.