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FragFX v.2
Score: 97%
Developer: Splitfish Gameware Inc.
Device Type: Controller


Ah, first person shooters a.k.a. FPS games on consoles... some PC gamers wouldn't go near them. I've heard several of them say that they wouldn't want to play a FPS game without a mouse and keyboard. I understand the sentiment, since a mouse and keyboard gives you a lot of keys to play with and lets you use one entire hand for aim, whereas you usually get a single analog stick for that on a console. The only problem I see is that keyboards were never made for playing games. They were intended for people to type words. Period. Consoles, on the other hand, were engineered for games... if only there was a controller for consoles that worked well for first person shooters. Something that combines the control of a mouse with a comfortable, handheld gamepad-like controller. Something like FragFX v.2...


Okay, okay, no need for it to come ripping off its shirt and flying out of a phone booth, but it is interesting that FPS games keep getting released on consoles while the control schemes haven't really found a way to bridge the control gap. The FragFX v.2 features a mouse with three mouse buttons (R1, R2 and R3) and Start on top, and the four-button cluster of action buttons in the standard "plus"-shape on the side of the mouse, for easy access with your thumb. (The mouse is for the right hand.) This mouse is connected to a "half-controller" for the left hand, that features the left stick, (Select) button, (PS) button and the Left shoulder buttons.

In addition to the standard fare, the FragFX v.2 also has some special buttons to support special features of the controller. Most obvious are the Frag button and the sensitivity dial. The sensitivity dial is on the right side of the controller, and it allows you to dial up or down the response of the mouse. The Frag button is an analog button that decreases the sensitivity of the mouse temporarily to allow you to have more control over your accuracy long enough to make a few carefully targeted shots, then upon release, returns you to the sensitivity indicated by the thumb dial. Since the Frag button is analog, you can adjust the sensitivity variably based on how hard you press the Frag button. This feature takes some practice, but can help you rapidly switch your aiming accuracy as needed.

I tried the FragFX v.2 out with Ghostbusters: The Video Game and Wolfenstein. I found that the combination of Left Hand Grip and mouse took a little bit of getting used to, but that was primarily for learning where the buttons were located. Instead of having to let go of the Right Stick (used for aiming the neutrino wand in Ghostbusters), I could use the mouse to maintain my aim, while using my thumb to hit (Square) to throw a ghost trap down. In Wolfenstein, there were a few times that I used the Frag button to get more precise control when sniping at a great distance. It's not going to zoom in for you, obviously, but lowering the mouse's sensitivity really does help you aim for exactly the pixel you're wanting to. This can make a big difference when your target is on the other side of a long, exposed walkway and peeking around cover; sometimes a few pixels might be all the target you get.

The mouse pad is worth mentioning; it has a rigid plastic back with rubber feet, making it stay put during use and a soft mousing surface that feels like neoprene. Basically, the mousing surface, itself, feels much like an old school mouse pad, but the rigid tray its built into makes it usable on top of big, cushy ottomans and such... which is a good thing, considering that my living room has been referred to on several occasions as the "ottoman empire."

The different modes that the FragFX v.2 supports is a nice touch, although I found that, for the most part, you're going to want the Game mode for FPS games. The Mouse mode seems to be primarily aimed at web browsing, while the Swap mode is for games that you would want to use the Game mode on, but where you want the mouse to control the Left Stick instead of the Right. One interesting mode is the Programmed Motion over-ride, or "pMo," as they refer to it. This mode lets you use a SIXAXIS motion to trigger a button, allowing you to decide what you think would be an "intuitive" use of motion control, regardless of how the developers built the game. You think it would make more sense to shake your Left Grip to reload? Make it so. This puts a good bit of tweaking power in your hands... literally.

Additionally, FragFX v.2 allows you to set a Rapid Fire functionality for any button on the right hand gaming mouse (R1, R2, R3, Circle, Triangle, Square or X). It should be noted, however, that this is not a variable rate Rapid Fire.

If all of the above isn't enough to get the Tweaker ready to run out and pick up a FragFX v.2, then you probably won't be interested in hearing about the fact that the FragFX v.2 is a firmware upgradeable device and that there is a freely downloadable tool on Splitfish's site that allows you to re-map all of the buttons, adjust all the analog buttons' sensitivity and then save your own customized setups to the FragFX v.2. Nope, you wouldn't care about that kind of stuff. If you were, I would tell you about how easy it is to drag and drop button labels onto the image of the controller to map the controls, but you probably don't have any interest in that. Oh, well. Personally, I found it pretty cool to be able to map both "triggers" (L1 and R1) to the mouse buttons, but that's just me.

As of this writing, I haven't played with the FragFX v.2 enough to be truly dangerous with it, but I can definitely see using it with FPS games I review in the future.

  • Left Hand Grip and Mouse Combo Controller
  • On-the-Fly Adjustable Mouse Sensitivity Dial
  • Frag Button
  • Multicolor PS Light Indicates Mode
  • Four Modes of Operation:
    • Game Mode
    • Mouse Mode
    • Swap Mode
    • Programmed Motion Over-ride (pMo) Mode
  • SIXAXIS Control (Left Hand Grip)
  • Cord Lengths:
    • From System: 9' 10"
    • Between Left Hand Grip and Mouse: 36"

Drawbacks & Problems::

The main thing about the FragFX v.2 is the learning curve. I'm not even going to say that it's all that bad, but it takes some getting used to the half-gamepad and a mouse thing. It further takes additional practice to master the Frag button sensitivity control. It will take finesse and practice to really make use of the FragFX v.2's capabilities, but if you do, you can really improve your game.

The FragFX v.2 isn't for everyone, but if you play FPS games on the PS3 and you find yourself wishing for more control, the FragFX v.2 might be just the controller you're looking for.

-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

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