“Ownage” is a word that regular players of first person shooters should be well acquainted with, particularly in the online arena. After all, causing shame and embarrassment to your opponents because your skills are far superior to theirs is really what competitive gaming is all about. Step forward the Eagle-Eye Converter, a new peripheral from Penguin United that aims to give you a distinct advantage over your arch-enemies and help you achieve your dreams of regular “ownage” by bringing the PC experience to PS3. Quite simply, it gives gamers the luxury – as some would say – of being able to use a keyboard and mouse as a controller for a large proportion of the PS3’s extensive library of games.
Presumably, the target market for the peripheral is either those who have made the crossover from PC to console gaming and are still struggling to get to grips with using a controller, or those who still play shooters on their gaming rigs and feel that a keyboard and mouse will give them a significant advantage over their opponent. Having had plenty of experience over the years PC gaming, mainly embroiled in intense gaming sessions on the likes of Battlefield 1942 and Counter Strike, we do appreciate that using a mouse and keyboard does give you extremely precise control over your actions allowing you to pin-point targets at incredible speeds – comparably quicker it seems than if you were to use a controller. And, if you go from playing a PC shooter straight across to a console shooter, which we have done on many occasions, targeting and movement does often seem that little bit slower. So, at first glance, it seems that the Eagle-Eye Converter is a product that could appeal to a certain section of gaming society.
However, PC and PS3 gaming are totally disparate, aren’t they? Both platforms cater specifically for their particular input devices and game designers map their control schemes to either a keyboard and mouse, or a controller. So, our initial thoughts when we first heard about this product was: how on earth can the Eagle-Eye Converter be better than using a SixAxis or DualShock controller on a PS3 game that’s designed with that input device in mind? Furthermore, how can it possibly improve your game? To say we were sceptical when we read the manufacturer’s statement about its product, which claims that “Ownage never comes easier,” is a gross understatement. Not being the type of people to judge something without trying it though, we got our hands on the tiny adaptor to put it through its paces.
At first glance, the Eagle-Eye Converter doesn’t look like it warrants its $59.99 price tag. After unboxing the adapter, we were fairly unimpressed by the basic design and cheap-looking black and grey plastic aesthetic. Our Eagle-Eye Converter came pre-loaded with Firmware Version 2.0 which, in the words of Penguin United, includes – “advanced Calibration Function, new Eagle Edit 2.0 Software and improved compatibility with Razer mice.” It’s encouraging to know that the manufacturer will continue to support the product and also base any tweaks it makes on consumer feedback gained through its support centre and forums. So, despite the fact that the converter could have been designed to fit more in line with the stylish looking PlayStation 3 chassis, there’s confidence to be gained from the continued support that Penguin United appear to be keen to provide.
Attached to the converter is an impressively long 13ft USB lead, which makes Sony’s stupidly short USB wireless controller charging lead look a little pathetic and mean. On the back of the converter are two USB slots where you can plug in your keyboard and mouse. On the lower face of the adaptor is a switch allowing you to move swiftly between two different keyboard profiles, which you can set up within the software to cater for two different gaming set-ups. Across the centre of the unit are the turbo switches, which relate to R1, R2, L1, L2 and the 4 Primary Action Buttons of the PS3 controller. Using the turbo function determines the repeat rate of each action button, which could give you quite an advantage over DualShock 3 and SIXAXIS owners. Some may call the use of turbo buttons cheating, and in truth it doesn’t sit well with us, but with some gamers always seeking to get an advantage over their opponents, it’s a feature that others may appreciate. It’s worth noting, however, that the converter doesn’t have SIXAXIS support.
Before connecting everything up though, there are some initial set-up instructions you need to follow. On the disc that comes with the product is the Eagle Edit Software. Just hook your converter to your PC, via USB, pop the disc in your tray and then follow the well-laid instructions to map your usual PlayStation buttons on the controller to whichever keys you choose on your keyboard. You begin by mapping the directional pad (WASD seems like a good bet for movement at this point) and then work your way around the usual pad controls assigning those keys to keyboard commands. We have no complaints with set-up process. It took us less than half an hour to set up, the instructions are clear and there are some great features, such as the ability to choose two different profiles and even assign macros – which could come in handy for giving you an advantage in games like Street Fighter IV where you’ll want to chain together combos. Nonetheless, it would have been nice to have had some default profiles included for some of the big titles to get you immediately up and running. Also, having more than just two profiles would also have been handy – it means instead that you’ll have to keep returning to the software to reconfigure your keypad for other games.
Once you’ve finished mapping your keys, it’s simply a matter of plugging your keyboard and mouse into the USB slots on the back of the converter and then slotting the USB lead that you’ve just taken out of your PC into your PS3. However, as we found out, the Eagle-Eye Converter isn’t compatible with all keyboards and mice. The disclaimer within the Eagle Edit Software reads: Not compatible with certain Gaming Mouse/Keyboard that comes with its own device driver. As it turns out, the Eagle-Eye Converter didn’t like our keyboard – the Logitech G110 – at all, and failed to make a connection. So we then had to scramble around for another keyboard, opting for the Logitech 250, which made the connection immediately. As the life cycle of the converter continues to grow, more keyboards and mice should be made compatible. However, if you want to avoid disappointment, make sure you check the up-to-date list of products you can use – wireless boards, for example, are currently a no-no, but products from Saitek, Razer and Steelseries appear to be well catered for. Thankfully, we didn’t have the same problem setting up our Logitech G500 mouse, which works as it should. Okay, onto the testing…
To put the Eagle-Eye Converter through its paces, we choose three games: Killzone 2, Modern Warfare 2 and Call Of Duty: Black Ops. Our first experience wasn’t that great. While keyboard strokes register impressively, with no noticeable sign of input lag – allowing us to turn on a sixpence – the mouse didn’t perform in the same way that the same Logitech model does on PC games. It actually feels like a dumbed-down version of that particular mouse, losing some of that performance and responsiveness. We actually found ourselves regularly switching dpi on the fly far more often than usual, using the side buttons of the G500 to adjust to different circumstances in the game just so we could try and adapt to the jagged movements of the target reticule.
It’s difficult to tell whether the clunkiness of the mouse movements is due to the games or the converter. All of the games we tested it on are specifically designed for controller play, and thus didn’t feel quite right with keyboard and mouse. After spending some time watching some of the excellent advanced tutorial videos that Penguin United provides on its website, we did get a much better performance by adjusting dead zone calibration and sensitivity in-game, via the function buttons across the top of the keyboard. This is a great feature of the converter that came in the latest firmware update. After applying some changes, there was improvement in performance, but at no point did we really ever feel like we had an advantage over our enemy. However, it’s clear to see that this is a good, albeit not brilliant, solution for those gamers who just can’t get to grips with controller play.
Overall, considering these games weren’t designed for keyboard and mouse play, the Eagle-Eye Converter performs relatively well. Nonetheless, PS3 games are meant to be played on a controller, and therefore gamers who have honed their FPS skills over the years using their thumbs and trigger fingers will gain little from a mouse and keyboard. However, it will put gamers – those who just can’t get to grips with a controller and prefer this particular set-up – on more of a level-playing field with their console gaming buddies and allow them to comfortably enjoy games, like Killzone 3, that won’t ever make it to the PC platform. In that respect, the Eagle-Eye Converter does its job well enough.