Over the years games have become more demanding on our hardware as they offer greater immersion. One aspect of gaming remains unchanged — your interaction with the game. Most of us use a cheap keyboard and mouse while gaming. While this may do for playing the odd game, if you care to call yourself a gamer, you will definitely feel the inadequacy of a common keyboard and mouse. Customizable buttons, macro keys, high-sensitivity mice and joysticks — are what you should look to as tools of the gaming trade.
My hunt for new gaming gear began with the demise of my two-year old Logitech MX518. It had served me through countless hours of Quake 3: Arena, Warcraft III and Battlefield 2142; not to mention a host of single-player titles, including Crysis. The impending release of Prince Of Persia also had me seriously thinking about biting the bullet and buying a game controller. So I needed a new mouse and a game controller.
I already have a superb keyboard — the Logitech G15 — which has beautifully backlit keys; a must for after-dark fraggers. The key spacing is a little more than what most keyboards offer, which is great for gaming. There are also 12 macro keys; superb for hack-nslash and RTS games. The G15 is priced at Rs. 4,400 and while that may seem a lot, it’s a beautiful keyboard for hardcore gamers. Razer’s Tarantula is another good offering, although it has less macro keys than the G15 and not all its keys are backlit. The Tarantula retails for Rs. 6,200 in India which is way too much for what it offers. There are a couple of options from the likes of iBall and Zebronics but these are half-hearted attempts at gaming keyboards and not worth the premium.
When it comes to gaming mice there are four major players — Logitech, Microsoft, Razer, and Steel Series. When looking at gaming mice, remember that there are two types of sensors — infrared and laser. Laser sensors have higher resolutions and offer greater scrolling speed (not to be mistaken for accuracy) than infrared mice. Logitech’s MX518, an infrared mouse, costs Rs. 1,400 — and is a real steal for its price. The Logitech G5 is a laser mouse with a 2,000 dpi sensor and is priced at Rs. 2,500. You can even configure the weight distribution of the mouse using provided weights. Logitech’s latest offering; the G9 sports a 3200 dpi sensor and has a customizable grip that can be adjusted for width depending on the size of your hand. It’s priced at Rs. 4,400. Razer’s Lachesis is a competitor to the G9 and sports an identical sensor; it’s a fair bit costlier at Rs. 5,400. It’s the same size as their Copperhead, and both are aimed gamers with slightly smaller hands, in my opinion. The Copperhead is priced at Rs. 4,000. Personally I find both of these mice to be very small for my hand and therefore uncomfortable, although their lower profiles (compared to Logitech mice) do help to alleviate stress on the wrist. The Razer Diamondback is the same size and shape as the Copperhead, but sports a slightly lower resolution (1600 dpi) infrared sensor; it’s priced at Rs. 3,000. Razer’s Death adder is my favorite mouse from the Razer series. It sports a 1600 dpi infrared sensor and feels very close to the MX518 in hand; but it’s slightly lower, and its more rounded profile fits my hand perfectly. Steel Series’ Ikari, a 1600 dpi mouse, is priced at Rs. 2,000 and exudes a great feel. The only drawback is that its clicks are a little too soft for my taste.
Do not be fooled by resolutions — all these mice track really well and a 3,200 dpi sensor might not always be better than a 2,000 dpi sensor since the extra precision means the mouse gets ultrasensitive to even minute movements — not something most gamers are comfortable with. Microsoft’s Sidewinder and Sidewinder X5 are other gaming options: the former is costlier at Rs. 5,100, and the latter sells for Rs. 2,500. In comparison to Logitech and Razer, these feel a little tacky, particularly the X5. The Habu is an older option from Microsoft with a slightly improvedMX518 sensor under its hood. It’s priced at Rs. 2,500. For me, a mouse can’t get better than the MX518 — superbly priced now, I bought mine for Rs. 2,600 a couple of years back and thought it decent value; at its current price, well, it’s a steal.
I was also looking for a controller for hack-n-slash games to use with my PC. Microsoft’s Xbox 360 wired controller is available for as little Rs. 1,650 these days. At this price, it’s a steal as it comes with force feedback. The wireless version of the controller costs Rs. 2,700 but you also need a wireless receiver unit if you’re going to use it with your PC. Sony’s PS3 controller (called DualShock 3) is also available; the wired version of the same costs Rs. 2,900 while the wireless version is priced at Rs. 4,500. I did see a Saitek wired controller priced at Rs. 2,500; availability of this brand will be an issue in most places although the higher end Saitek products are very good. I highly recommend the wired Xbox 360 controller — it’s cheap, it’s widespread and works well.
For racing games, Logitech’s G25 and Momo are available. The Momo is excellent value at Rs. 4500. It has two pedals, a 240-degree steering wheel turn and force feedback. The G25 is a premium offering and I must say it looks lovely with a leather wrapped wheel and its F1-style paddles. The steering is ultra-realistic with 2.5 turns from end to end and the dual-motor feedback ensures that you feel not only bumps but also curves in the road and embankments — this is the real deal for racing fans. The only downside is the price — Rs. 17,750 — although it’s fairly priced in my opinion; for the experience it offers. I ended up picking the Xbox 360 controller and the Logitech MX518. Now fraggers will once again quake; while I get down and dirty with the prince