A look at the current crop of Logitech Mice
January 25, 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 won't break.
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. :)