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Review: SteelSeries World Of Warcraft Cataclysm MMO Gaming Mouse

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SteelSeries’ second go at creating such a mouse, the World of Warcraft: Cataclysm MMO Gaming Mouse (yes, it’s a mouthful) could make a fine gift this holiday season for the WoW player in your life. It certainly helps if said WoW player has hands the size of Andre the Giant’s.

Features:

• 14 programmable buttons
• On-board memory to store multiple profiles
• PC and Mac compatible software
• Nifty built-in flashing LED
• Blizzard’s blessing as it’s a fully licensed WoW product

Pro:

• Plenty of buttons that you can configure however you see fit
• Driver software works for Mac on Day One this time around
• SteelSeries’ typical solid build quality

Con:

• It’s gigantic (or maybe I just have small hands?)
• Pretty much a one-game (or one genre) mouse—it’s probably overkill and/or inappropriate for browsing the Web or playing the latest FPS
• Inner thumb buttons a little difficult to reach (but again, maybe I have Princess Zelda hands)

Raise Curtain

SteelSeries’ World of Warcraft Cataclysm MMO Gaming Mouse should probably come with a sticker on it that says the mouse equivalent of “must be this tall to ride the ride.” It’s a very big mouse, but that ensures your hands aren’t too squished together when trying to access all 14 buttons. It works as advertised, which is really all you can ask, but it will definitely take some getting used to, particularly if you, like me, have Princess Zelda hands.

The first thing you notice about the mouse is, “Hey, that actually looks pretty great.” It looks like a WoW mouse. I’m confident you could show it to a non-WoW person and they’d remarks, “Do you use that to play that online game you play all the time?”

Why yes, yes I do.

Beyond the aesthetics—note that there’s an LED in there that flashes and pulses to your specification. It’s merely eye candy but it’s not like there’s something inherently wrong with eye candy, per se—the mouse works about as well as any other high-end gaming mouse. Nothing feels cheap here.

Why have so many buttons on a mouse? MMO players know that to effectively control your toon you need to be cognizant of approximately 900 keyboard and mouse combination, with shift- and alt- modifiers further complicating matters. Anyone who’s sunk any amount of time into games like WoW will no doubt have gotten the hang of it, but it’s nothing something you can pick up in an afternoon. (Blizzard said in a recent interview with Edge magazine that a full 50 percent of people who play the free 10-day WoW trial don’t make it past level 10. These games take time and dedication to play, let alone play well.) If you can offload some of the less cerebral commands from the keyboard to the mouse you’ll have made the game slightly less confusing to play.

The mouse’s default driver settings map the buttons thus:

Being a tinker, I wiped those setting as soon as I launched the game.

I had the mouse’s buttons programmed like this for the past few days:

As a new priest, I had already settled on a pretty good casting sequence. I have no idea if the sequence is Elitist Jerks-approved, but the order made sense to me. Plus, in the early levels of WoW all you’re really doing is killing mobs one at a time—nothing too strenuous or chaotic. As the picture shows, I had mapped the button underneath the scroll wheel to my main casting macro. The slender button to the immediate left of the scroll wheel was set to “nearest target” (causing you to target the nearest enemy), and the slender button to the immediate right was set to open all of my bags. Why move my left hand all the way from its WASD home when I can merely use my right ring finger to bring up the bags?

I left the other buttons unmapped because it wasn’t necessary to map ‘em so early in the game. If you’re a level 80+ and you’re raiding or PVP-ing and you have three of four action bars worth of talents you need at the ready, then yeah: map away. The extra buttons certainly come in handy.

http://player.ooyala.com/player.swf?embedCode=BzYTR3MTpAoxTGsQeGxE2AX8HQqRLNyf&version=2

As this embedded video shows, the mouse certainly makes it easier to kill mobs. (The video is a parody if all those “epic” videos that many guilds upload to YouTube that are accompanied, for seemingly no reason, by irrelevant trance music.) My left hand never once leaves WASD (with my thumb on the space bar to jump for fun), leaving my right hand—my mouse hand—free to kill those jerk trolls.

In short, the mouse worked.

I’ve two concerns with the mouse.

One, again, it’s a little on the big side. Razer’s MMO mouse has a whole bunch of buttons without being the size of a Cadillac. Maybe I have small hands, I don’t know. But keep that in mind before you buy.

Two, it’s definitely overkill for daily mousing. (This is unlike SteelSeries’ highest end mouse, the Xai, which is great for first-person shooting and everyday mousing.) This ties into its size, but you might have to be prepared to dual mouse: use this mouse when you’re battling those Horde/Alliance fiends, but then switch over to your regular mouse when it’s time to hop on the forums to learn how to best min-max your toon.

In short, she’s a fine mouse that works as advertised, and that’s great, but it will definitely take getting used to. You’ll need to teach yourself how to split your workload between the keyboard and mouse, and you’ll have to get used to the size. She’s a big one.

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