There are a lot of differences between consoles and PCs. Some gamers will choose the former because of the low cost, while others might choose the latter because of the better graphics. But one of the most fundamental differences between the two is what you use to play the game with. PC gamers can use controllers, if they choose. However, those with a PS3 or Xbox 360 are generally unable to use a keyboard and mouse.
Over the last few years, different devices have come onto the market that will allow console gamers to experience the same controls that PC gamers have enjoyed. I’ve spent a couple of weeks with one such gadget, the Eagle Eye 3.0 from Penguin United. The version I’ve been using works with the Xbox 360.
In the box you’ll find a 22-page instruction guide, a CD, and the device itself. The device is a small box with a 13′ USB cable, two USB ports and a number of switches. Eight of the switches are for “turbo” and correspond with the buttons on your controller. The other two are for programming the box and switching between one of two different profiles.
Remember were I said that there was a 22-page instruction guide? There’s a good reason for that. Every page is in English, so you’ll be reading each and every page. To be honest, this is one of the most difficult and time-consuming devices to setup that I’ve encountered. There is good reason for this, as you’re trying to translate key presses and mouse movements into something that your console can recognize.
First thing you’ll need upon setting up this device is an official wired Xbox 360 controller. When they say official, they mean it. I tried using our Batarang controller from Power A, which is officially licensed, but it was a no-go. If you don’t have an official wired controller from Microsoft, you’ll need to add that to the cost of the device.
To program the box, you’ll need to plug it into your computer, and run the software on the CD. You’ll then map each button, trigger, and analog stick to your desired keys. I’d recommend pulling out the manual for the game you intend on playing, as it will help greatly. Once you’ve done that, you can export it to the device. If you have another game you plan on playing, you can flip the switch to “Key Map 2” and setup another profile.
Now it’s time to hook it up to your 360. With the console powered off, you’ll plug in the box, and hook your wired 360 controller to it. Power on the console, and once your controller has been assigned a position on the console (it should be the first and only controller), you can unplug it, and plug in your keyboard and mouse. Now these too, must be wired. Also, neither of them should specifically require a driver to run, as for obvious reasons, you can’t install one. Most wired keyboards and mice will work.
If you’re really lucky, you could start playing your game straightaway, and have fun. However, that isn’t going to be the case most of the time. For this, you will use the F1-F8 keys to modify your deadzone, X-axis sensitivity, Y-axis sensitivity, angle correction, and rotation speed limit. Going through each of these can take several minutes, adding significantly to your setup time. If you’re doing this for the first time, I’d set aside 30 minutes for setup, bare minimum.
If you want to knock off some of that time, you can try going to the Penguin site and downloading a keymap that another user has already uploaded. You’ll still need to calibrate everything for your particular keyboard/mouse and specific tastes.
This is obviously the most important part. Is all of that setup time really going to improve your game? My answer isn’t exactly a definite one. I’m a PC gamer at heart, so I tend to do better with a keyboard and mouse, rather than a controller. So was my performance better while using this device? I can answer that with yes.
What’s interesting is that playing console games with a keyboard and mouse didn’t feel as natural on my 360 as it does on my PC. After countless hours of playing, I couldn’t ever quite put my finger on it, but something about it always felt off. The mouse was responsive enough, and I was able to make shots that I’d never have pulled off with a controller. However, I feel like I didn’t perform up to par, when compared to how I played on a PC. Overall though, I enjoyed being able to use my favorite keyboard and mouse while playing with friends on my 360, and my kill/death ratio was generally higher than when I’d switch back to my controller.
Setting up the Eagle Eye is a pain in the ass, no doubt about it. However, if you have the patience to get through that, it can certainly provide the desired results, to a degree. My personal experience was that I performed better than with a controller, but not quite as good as I normally would on a PC. So is it worth the $60 price tag? That depends on how much you plan on playing with a keyboard/mouse, and how good you are with a controller. Also, if you don’t have an official wired controller from Microsoft, that price just jumped up to around $100.