That ain't right." That's the collective outcry of any PC gamer when handed a dual analog stick gamepad for a first person shooter game. I've been a PC gamer for the majority of my life and even with the advancements of today's controller setup, there's still no replicating the feel of a mouse and keyboard experience for the first person shooter genre. There have been many companies out there that have tried to solve the FPS controller issue. From adding a trackball to your controller, modeling the controller like a gun, or adding a breakout box so you can use a real mouse and keyboard. The one thing all these products have in common is that none of them work particularly well. That's where SplitFish comes along.
Splitfish Gameware is a gaming peripheral company based out of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada (three hours from our headquarters) and first debut its FragFX controller in March 2007. At the time, the FragFX was the natural evolution of the EdgeFX, a similar mouse and analog controller for the PS2. But in March 2009, Splitfish improved on their original design and released the FragFX V.2. So is this franken-controller worth your money and, more importantly, does it deliver an accurate experience of PC FPS gameplay for the PS3? In short, yes.
The V.2 is almost identical to the V.1. Both have an optical mouse attached to what essentially is half of a dual shock controller that resembles the Wii's nunchuk peripheral. The optical mouse is right handed only with your standard face buttons on the side near your thumb and the R1/R2 triggers mapped to the left/right click buttons. The left handed "fragchuck" has your analog thumbstick for movement and a D-Pad for in game functions. L1/L2 triggers are present as triggers on the "fragchuck". The V.2 comes with a lap-pad designed as a dock for your "fragchuck" and a mouse pad for play while you're sitting on a couch but this isn't necessary for the V.2 to operate. The whole assembly is connected to your PS3 via a 10 foot long USB cord and is generally adequate for smaller living rooms. Personally, I needed a longer cord for my 46" HDTV which my PS3 is connected to and a USB extension cord did the trick.
Besides having a mouse to control aiming and looking functions for PS3 games, which is already a leap beyond other control schemes, the V.2 has a few more unique features. First is the sensitivity dial on the fragchuck, which enables the user to adjust the sensitivity of the optical mouse irregardless of the in game settings. The best results are achieved when the dial is adjusted in conjunction with in game settings but a little trial and error will have you at your preferred sensitivity. The second innovation is the "Frag" button. This button, located on the Fragchuck, will slow down the mouse movements when pressed to allow for increased accuracy during critical moments such as taking a headshot. This could be the fabled "win" button that represents gaming's holy grail.
So how well does the V.2 function in game and does it actually recreate a mouse and keyboard experience for the PS3? To answer that, I ran through four different games with the V.2 where before, I would have only used the dual shock 3 to control. The games tested were Battlefield 1943, Call of Duty: World at War, Uncharted, and Killzone 2. These are games with varying degrees of gunplay elements and would be well suited for a mouse and keyboard setup. The only wildcard is Uncharted as there are many more elements than gunplay to the game but that title was added as a baseline comparison.
Being of a PC FPS gamer, I'm used to playing in twitch games such as UT3, TF2, and the likes. The V.2 replicates the mouse controls relatively well but will not replace an authentic mouse and keyboard setup. But when compared to a standard dual analog stick control, the V.2 is light-years ahead in accuracy, control, and reliability. The best comparison I can offer is this: if using a mouse and keyboard is like driving a car where it goes where you steer it and using a standard controller was like steering a paddle boat; then the V.2 is like riding a skateboard where it goes in the general direction you point to but requires practice and a little effort.
In a purely empirical sense of the test, my kills in all games (except for Uncharted where there was no multiplayer) increased but at the least 35% (CoD: WaW) and on average 52% over the period of a few hours of play. There is no doubt that the V.2 is the best FPS controller available for the PS3 to date and is as close to the real thing as you can get. There is a slight learning curve to using the V.2 and will take you some time to adjust the settings to suit your play style but it's well worth the time. The V.2 (and the V.1) are both firmware upgradable so you can be sure future games and features will be supported. With full six-axis control in the Fragchuck, dedicated optical mouse, a "frag" button, and an independent sensitivity dial, the FragFX V.2 is the Excalibur to the FPS gamer's King Arthur.
The only real issues with the V.2 is the ethics of it all. Does it mean that you're cheating if you're using the FragFX in a match, especially when there's such things as the Frag button? The same argument could be said of players that use a fightstick for Street Fighter. Personally, I'm for the idea that whoever has the bigger stick, wins. If you own a PS3 and you like to play FPS games, you owe it to yourself to import/buy a FragFX V.2. At $79.99 US MSRP, it will be the best money you've ever spent for a controller and will make all Xbox360 fanboys cry in their sleep!