Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What the Wednesday: SmartJoy FRAG for Xbox

This week's look into the weird and wonderful side of gaming starts with a confession:

I'm a dirty, rotten cheater. There. I said it.

For someone like me that grew up alongside first-person shooters, there's always been something...lacking about controlling them with anything but a mouse and keyboard. Heck, I remember when you could get by fine with just a keyboard.

Enter Halo 2.

Released on November 9, 2004, Master Chief's second adventure brought with it a robust and active multiplayer component via Xbox Live--a feature sorely missing from the first game. And once you've played through the single-player campaign, the competitive and addictive multiplayer game is really what'll keep you coming back for more.

To keep matches as even as possible, Xbox live balanced teams based on your player rank. For example, if one team had five rank 10 players, the other team might have one rank 20, a rank 15, and three rank fives. Numerically, it's still an even match.

I wasn't very good at shooters (and I'm still not), so I'd be one of those rank five meat bags pulling down the rest of my team. After long enough, I was convinced that the Xbox's gamepad (which is admittedly decent) was the weakest part of my game.

Being a resourceful young chap, I tracked down one of these:

This handy little device is called a SmartJoy FRAG, made by (the now defunct) Lik-Sang. Simply plug it into the controller port and you're ready to connect any PS/2 keyboard and mouse to your Xbox. And the best part? It works!

Without any fanfair, it allows you to transfer your PC setup to your Xbox. Plus, you can dabble in more advanced features like mouse deadzone calibration--all with a couple keystrokes.

It's not perfect for every situation (for instance, it made driving vehicles almost impossible), and there's really no point in using it for anything but first-person shooters, but it's still darn good.

I know what you're thinking: "Hey! That's an unfair advantage!" And you're right. The SmartJoy FRAG notably improved my FPS game. I went from an awful Halo 2 player to a remarkably average one.

I told you was bad.

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