The thing about reviewing mice is that you’re actually looking at two separate entities. Yes, you’re looking at the mouse itself, the hardware, but you’re also simultaneously taking into account the software that powers it, the drivers. A mouse without adequate drivers might as well not exist. And as I’ve said this week, SteelSeries hasn’t yet released Mac OS X drivers for its World of Warcraft MMO Gaming Mouse, forcing me to instead rely upon ControllerMate, a $15 application that breathes life into the mouse on OS X. Without ControllerMate, this review would have been delayed by some time.
With that out of the way, let’s take a closer look at the girl.
The $99 mouse, officially the SteelSeries World of Warcraft MMO Gaming Mouse, is, as the name implies, designed for Wow (and other MMO) players. There’s a total of 15 buttons present, the mouse’s flashiest attribute, and each one can be programmed and re-programmed to your heart’s content. There’s seven buttons on the top, six on the left and two on the right. (The photo gallery, which took me an awful long time to shoot, shows the exact location and shape of the buttons). The default setup has the buttons controlling the following functions: left click; right click; dismount; bring up the battle map (or mini map); character; assist target; focus; bring up the world map; bring up the character screen (“C”); autorun; select last hostile; stop all; nearest enemy; win button 5; and win button 4. The scroll wheel zooms in and out, as you might expect. But, again, you’re encouraged to re-map the buttons to your own personal playing style.
The mouse also has built-in LEDs that can change color, as this video shows. Nothing more than mere eye candy, I suppose.
So that’s the laundry list out of the way.
A little on the big side, the mouse may take some getting used to if your current mouse is a small one. (I use the smallish Logitech G5 as both my gaming and everyday mouse.) I guess I have tiny, feminine hands—tee hee—but I felt like I had to stretch to reach the left D-Pad thing. Then again, I’m not used to using my thumb as a primary component of my mousing, so maybe this little hiccup is more a result of my own incompetence than anything else.
Despite the size, all the buttons and crazy flashing lights, the mouse is a light one, even though, as a matter of fact, I don’t mind a heavier mouse. (I use several of the Logitech G5 weights to give it some girth.) Moving it around my mousepad takes no effort. You’re not saying, “Man, this mouse is annoyingly heavy,” in other words. The two little fins, or whatever you want to call them, along both sides seem awkward—what purpose do they serve? They’re just sorta there, not in the way or anything, but it gives the mouse a strange look, like an attractive girl wearing a stupid hat.
The buttons do as they’re told, which is the highest praise that can be expected. Using ConrollerMate, eventually, I was able to tool around Shattrath City and Outland all the more efficiently. No more having to take my hand off the mouse just to dismount my Death Knight’s mount, no more having to shift my finger all the way over to the M key just to bring up the map. That type of thing matters to WoW players. Now, I used the word “eventually” a few words ago, which is an allusion to how long it took to figure out how to use ControllerMate. It’s a truly powerful piece of software, but one with an immense learning curve. Configuring SteerMouse and USB Overdrive is much easier. Too bad neither of those work with the mouse.
So that’s about it. SteelSeries has succeeded in creating a mouse that doesn’t suck, and should be commended for it. While not exclusively for WoW (or other MMO) players, I can’t imagine too many other people who need 15 buttons at their disposal. So if you are a WoW you shouldn’t be disappointed