I Love Meeses to Pieces!
A look at the current crop of Logitech Mice
January 24, 1998
by jason "loonyboi" bergman
When we last met, I had caved in and sold out to
the ManTM. Oh yeah, and I had finally realized that the mouse was the ultimate
way to play first person action games too. But now I was presented with a new
problem...now that I'd decided to concentrate on the mouse as my input device of
choice...which one should I use?
At first I didn't really care, to be honest. The concept of using a mouse in Quake was
so new to me, that any mouse would do (except that old AppleIIc laser mouse I had...ick).
So for a while I stuck with my little AST P/S2 style mouse.
I've been using the Trackman Marble for so long, that I totally forgot just how
disgusting mice can be. After a few weeks of use, that mouse got the funk big time. I'm
talking sludge in every known crevice, (graphic enough for ya?) and so much resistance
from the ball that it actually took force to turn around at all. All in all, it was a sad
looking piece of crap. So I decided to get myself a real mouse. A mouse I wouldn't be
ashamed to bring to LAN parties...a mouse that might even provide me with an inherent
advantage in Quake.
Now anyone who's been around the block a few
times knows that the mouse of choice is the Logitech MouseMan. With three buttons, and a
sleek ergonomic design, this baby has been the device for the elite gamer ever since the
days o' Doom. Unfortunately, it doesn't exist anymore. You see, Logitech let it go the way
of Aliens Quake and Aftershock (the site, not the add-on pack). Lord only knows why, but
Logitech decided to redesign the MouseMan. Sorry to see it go, but hey...them's the
breaks. Fortunately in its place, Logitech has released a slew of new stylin' mice, which
I have been fortunate enough to take for a test-drive.
|First off is the FirstMouse. Despite the silly
name, this is basically your standard, cheapo PS/2 mouse. Looks great, handles pretty
well, but hey...it's not exactly going to improve your game or anything. (What's that?
Practice? Never. A better input device will help ten times better than years of practice.
Really). Considering the price (somewhere in the $20-30 range) it's a nice inexpensive
replacement for that aging one that came with your computer, and is still a pretty solid
mouse all things considered. You can definitely throw this one around the house a bit
before any damage is done. So feel free to hit your siblings over the head with it..it
|Next in the Logitech catalog, is the FirstMouse+.
This is basically the same thing as the FirstMouse, only it has that weird looking
Microsoft Intellimouse doohicky wheel in between the two buttons. At first I was a little
put off by the thing, but it has grown on me. It's actually pretty nifty to be able to
scroll down without moving my hand (hey...it reminds me of the trackball days) and I did
actually find some cool uses for the wheel in Quake. First off, it can be used as both a
wheel and as a third button. Pressing down on the wheel is the same as the middle button
on other mice, and it's a nice little feature. The positioning of the wheel (between the
two buttons, towards the front of the mouse) means that in order to push down on the wheel
(while not actually turning it, that is) you have to lift up one finger, and
position it right in the center, and then press down. It's a bit of a hassle at first, but
it can be learned fairly easily. The positioning of the wheel doesn't make that feature
ideal for something as necessary as jumping, but it's a nice place to stick an alias
command (like my favorite switch to shotgun, fire once, and switch back alias).
The wheel itself can be bound (in
QuakeWorld, that is...it's a bit funky in Quake II, but it can be done) to MWheelup and
MWheeldown, and I found myself benefiting greatly by binding these to cycle through my
weapons. With Quake II I discovered that this was actually a disadvantage, since a
delay has been added to weapon switching. Believe me, nothing sucks worse then trying to
get to that Chaingun and realizing that you have to go past the damn Railgun first. After
some fiddling with different configurations, I settled on binding up and down to my two
favorite weapons. Again, it's a bit of an acquired skill to be able to turn the wheel only
once in either direction, but all in all, I do like the doohicky.
|Next on my list of Logitech fun, is the MouseMan.
This is the redesigned version of the original classic MouseMan, and is a bit...different.
This one is nicely ergonomic as well, but whereas the original one focused on a
"grip" style shape, this one is clearly meant to fit into your curved palm. It's
skinny, and the side has a groove obviously intended for your thumb. The coolest thing
about this, however, is that this baby has not one, not two, not three, but four
buttons. There's the expected three on top, and then there's one on the side comfortably
nestled into that thumb grove. It's a bit disconcerting at first...if nothing else, nobody
seems to know what to do with the damn thing. You see, it's one thing when you're dealing
with a joystick, but a four button mouse? Now that's just loony. One guy at my
office has it set to "close program". I got the feeling that was just the first
thing that popped into his head. Naturally, Quake doesn't pick it up natively, but the
Logitech software that comes with it lets you bind that key to anything you want, so you
can bind it to "home" or any other not-entirely necessary key, and then bind
that to something in Quake.
The positioning of the fourth
button makes it feel like a sort of secret weapon you're concealing (after all...when the
mouse is in your hand, nobody's going to be able to tell that the button's even there) so
I found myself binding it to an array of special aliases. It's not the best button for a
necessary command since the thumb isn't nearly as limber as the other fingers, and moving
the thumb too quickly can throw off the precise movements of them in the process (hey, try
it!) so I wouldn't suggest binding this to fire. In Quake II it makes a nice "use
item" button (especially in conjunction with the wheel, but I'll get to that in a
sec). The biggest problem I had was not being able to come up with a need for all four
buttons. But hey...it's nice to know they're there at all I suppose.
|The MouseMan+ is (you guessed it) the same thing,
only instead of three buttons on top, there are only two, with a doohicky wheel resting
between them. It's weird to be sure, but it has its uses. Like I mentioned above, the
thumb button is great for "use item" and the wheel makes for a terrific way to
scroll through your inventory. I really liked this one, and it is probably my favorite of
all the mice I played with for this article (and that was many a mouse, let me tell you).
Cordless MouseMan Pro
|Next up is the Cordless MouseMan Pro, and let me
tell you right up front here...this ain't no gaming device. It's one of those cordless
mice, which I suppose is nice for when the back of your computer looks like leftovers from
Brazil, but it's just not a healthy gaming device. It has three buttons, which wouldn't be
a bad thing (although I was still coming down from the other MouseMen which had four)
except two are on top (in these annoying little "disc" shapes) and one on the
side. Using this thing made me realize just how nice an ergonomic mouse really can be. The
side button on the MouseMan was a comfort, nay, a pleasure to use. The Cordless MouseMan
Pro completely throws that out the window, replacing it with a tiny little bar in its
place, and it's half the length as well. The mouse itself runs off of two AAA batteries,
and I didn't keep this thing plugged in long enough to wear them down, which I suppose is
a sign of quality. The top buttons are equally uncomfortable, and I found myself longing
for my old PS/2 mouse (or at least a FirstMouse). Logitech claims that this can work up to
six feet away from the receiver, but I found it conking out around four or so (granted
there was a few feet of garbage between the two...but hey...I wanted to check).
|The last mouse I had the pleasure to fiddle around
with is the MouseMan Notebook, which I suppose might have been really cool if I had a
notebook that could actually use it (I have a second generation PowerBook...something told
me that the two just weren't going to get along too well). Just for the heck of it, I
plugged it into my desktop computer anyway to see how it stood up. The MouseMan Notebook
is basically a slightly smaller version of the venerable original MouseMan design, and
therefore is a hoot to play with. Of course, my gargantuan hands made it somewhat
difficult to woop any ass, but it was still nice to use. My one major problem with this
was the impossibly tiny cord, but I suppose this wouldn't be as big an issue if I were
actually using it with a notebook. Once I hooked up a PS/2 extension cable, I found it
much easier to move the MouseMan Notebook around at all.
All in all, I found that each mouse had
something nice going for it (even the Cordless one was...well, cordless) but to the buyer,
I'd suggest taking a test-drive with a bunch of different mice before settling on one to
spend the rest of your Quakin' days with. After all, this is probably the most important
decision of your Quake career, and it will reflect your personality. Besides, I never
would have guessed in a million years that the funky looking MouseMan+ would actually be
my favorite. So hey...you never know. :)