Professional gaming, strange as it may sound, has long been an "accepted" sport in the high tech fraternity. Although as far as mainstream consumers go it's still a nascent market in Australia (compared to the US and Korea at least), headway is being made and there's already a huge underground community built around it.
It's toward this market that the Creative Fatal1ty 1010 mouse is directed. Named after the most successful pro-gamer to date, this mouse with its playful aesthetic and high AU$129.95 price tag certainly won't appeal to the non-gamer. But if you take your fragging seriously, you'll certainly notice the improvement over a generic mouse.
While many mice are designed to be gripped half-heartedly with your fingertips, the Fatal1ty is a full-handed affair. It's designed to be held firmly, with the palm of your hand touching its back (most of the time anyway). This may take some getting used to, particularly as your fingers hang slightly over the front of the mouse, but it's certainly worth it in the end as precision and control increase tremendously.
Also benefiting control is the fact that, as you'll notice in the attached images, the mouse's width extends significantly passed the right mouse button, providing a place to rest your index finger. With many mouse designs only your index and middle fingers rest on the top of the mouse, while the rest grip onto the sides -- we prefer the Fatal1ty method.
This will likely seem overkill to all but the most serious of gamers, but another cool design feature of the Fatal1ty 1010 is its set of three interchangeable weights. These slot into the top of the mouse, and come in 3.5g, 11g and 26g sizes. The logic behind this is that some users find that a heavy mouse offers better precision, while others prefer a lighter unit. We found ourselves using the 11g weight most, but obviously others may feel differently.
The mouse offers five buttons, all of which are customisable through the intuitive user interface. In addition to the left and right buttons and the clickable scroll wheel, there's also a thumb button on the left side and another up top on the right, designed to be clicked with your ring finger. We found the thumb button to be slightly too small and difficult to push in the heat of battle, but the extremely handy ring finger button makes this a non-issue.
A sixth button is included just below the scroll wheel to allow you to change the mouse's CPI (AKA: sensitivity) setting on the fly. This is discussed in more detail under "Features".
Gamers will no doubt find the glossy black casing, red sensor LED and illuminated Fatal1ty insignia to be fairly attractive, but this aesthetic may appear childish to older gamers.
Although many of the mouse's features have been mentioned under "Design", one aspect we've purposely brushed over until now is its three sensitivity settings: 400 CPI, 800 CPI and 1600 CPI. Creative defines CPI as "Counts Per Inch", but it's simpler to think of it as a sensitivity rating whereby the higher the number, the more responsive the mouse will be to your movements.
The three sensitivity settings can be cycled through on the fly, using a button that lies just below the scroll wheel. This button changes colour depending on which setting you're currently on; green for 400, amber for 800 and red for 1600. The idea behind this feature is that the ideal sensitivity depends on the situation -- if you're in a sniper role you'll want a lower sensitivity to maintain accuracy, but if you're on the front lines and require twitch reflexes, a higher sensitivity is better.
Being avid Counter-Strike players since the early betas, we were more than keen to put the Fatal1ty 1010 through its paces. Counter-Strike, despite its age, is a great game for testing mice due to the variety of roles and weapons on offer. Here are some of our observations:
- We initially hated the mouse, largely due to its unorthodox design and the fact that we're so used to the Logitech MX518. After sticking with it for a few days, however, we began to love it and found that our game had improved tremendously.
- The 11g weight offers the greatest versatility and, contrary to our initial impressions, swapping out the weights has a significant impact on gameplay.
- The 400 CPI setting is far too slow, even if you're using a sniper rifle. Similarly, 1600 CPI is uncontrollably fast and has a detrimental effect on accuracy. Again, the middle setting is the sweet spot for us.
- In frantic first person shooter titles such as Quake 4, setting the ring finger button to jump makes you infinitely more agile in online battles.
- The mouse is equally impressive when using rough or smooth surfaced mouse pads.
Overall, being reasonably serious gamers, we were extremely pleased with the Fatal1ty 1010's performance and found that it offers greater control and precision over our previous mouse. Non-gamers with basic mousing needs will understandably find it unjustifiably expensive, however.