Why is the Mouse PC Only?
Matt posted in Playstation 3, Wii, Xbox 360 on September 20th, 2006
I haven’t had too much time to game recently because of work, but I did buy Final Fantasy VII: Dirge of Cerberus, and I’ve enjoyed it so far. Sure, it doesn’t live up to Final Fantasy VII. Yes, its gameplay isn’t original in the least bit, but if you’re like me and can’t wait for Final Fantasy XII, it’ll definitely help you pass the time. My favorite part about it is that you can actually use any USB keyboard and mouse to play with the preferred FPS controls. If you are running out to the store just because of that, let me first caution you that it doesn’t work all that well. I think they are just mapping the mouse input into joystick commands, so it definitely feels a bit wonky. I was very eager to try my preferred first person peripherals out (I got some amusement that I was using a Microsoft keyboard and mouse with my PS2), and once I adjusted the sensitivity to where I wanted it, I had to pick up the mouse about 10 times to complete a 180 degree turn. So, I had to jack the sensitivity way up in order to turn around at any reasonable speed, but then it was too sensitive for me to aim. Luckily, there is a forgiving auto-aim that made the game playable with the poor mouse controls. Sure, it’s definitely not ideal, but I still prefer that to playing with a gamepad. (Although, when I had to do the third person melee combat, I picked up my DualShock 2). All of this has really made me wonder, why do console game developers shun the mouse?
Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 both have USB ports. You can already play at least one PS2 game with a keyboard and mouse, so I’m sure it will be possible for Playstation 3 also. Xbox 360′s dash already supports USB keyboards for entering in Xbox Live information, so I’m sure it would be easy for Microsoft to expose mouse and keyboard drivers to developers. Heck, you could even play first person shooters for Dreamcast (Quake III Arena and Unreal Tournament) with a keyboard and mouse. Then why can’t I play any next gen first person shooters the way that I want to? I would enjoy Perfect Dark Zero much more if I could use a keyboard and mouse to control it. I can understand that Microsoft didn’t want to do it with the original Xbox since they were trying to fight the idea that the console was just a Windows PC in the living room. I think they managed to shake that idea, so what is the hesitation with Xbox 360? Sony is trying to convince the world that the Playstation 3 is more than just a console – it’s a PC. This may be to justify the price tag. $600 may seem like a lot for a video game console, but is quite cheap for a PC with as much processing power as the PS3 packs. But if it’s a PC, then why can’t I play games with the keyboard and mouse? Why is the PC the only system that can have the best input devices for real time strategy and first person shooters?
Some might argue that the Wii-mote will help bridge that gap. Maybe it will. I haven’t played a RTS with the Wii-mote, but I have played a first person shooter (Red Steel), and I much prefer a mouse to the Wii-mote for a first person shooter. Even if the Wii-mote is heaven for strategy and first person games, I imagine making a similar peripheral for the PS3 and the Xbox 360 would be a bad idea because of both the cost, patent infringement and segmenting the market (not everyone would buy one), but who doesn’t have a keyboard and a mouse? Maybe they aren’t USB, but I can’t imagine the USB adapter would be expensive.
I’m not purposing Resistance: The Fall of Man and Halo 3 should be mouse only. I’m just suggesting that they support the keyboard and mouse also. There is a large population of gamers who primarily play PC first person shooters who really don’t want to play an FPS with a gamepad (myself included). Many of these gamers own a console. Why not make your console first person shooter accessible to them also? It wouldn’t be all that much work, and it can only help sales. With this generation of consoles, PCs have lost their other FPS advantage: higher resolutions. Maybe if Resistance: The Fall of Man allowed the usage of a mouse, some PC gamers would buy a PS3 also.
Now, I imagine there are some console first person shooter fans screaming, “That’s not fair!” But, let’s stop and think about that. I’m sure plenty of people playing with a keyboard and a mouse will be a lot more accurate at aiming. There is plenty that the game developers can do to balance it out by doing some auto aiming for gamepad users, but even if they don’t, why is that unfair? I could play Halo 2 online with Microsoft’s new force feedback steering wheel. If I tried to complain that it was unfair that everyone else wasn’t using a steering wheel too, I’d get laughed off Xbox Live. If you think that’s ridiculous, I’d argue it’s the same way for keyboard and mouse vs. gamepads. If you want, you can play PC FPSes with a PC gamepad (you can even use your wired Xbox 360 gamepad, and when this adapter comes out, you can use your wireless), but you’re not going to get very far. For all the console gamers that don’t want to bother learning how to aim well with a more accurate control scheme, I’m sure they could create gamepad only servers on Xbox Live, so that you could continue playing with your controller of choice. It would be easy for them to enforce that on the game side, so you wouldn’t get a griefer on your server getting headshots by using the mouse.
Until the mouse gets more support from console game developers, all hope is not lost. Lik Sang has created mouse and keyboard to PS2 and Xbox controller adapters. I haven’t used them myself, but I’ve heard that the performance ranges from quite well to not so great depending on the game. But, I imagine it couldn’t really be worse than Final Fantasy VII: Dirge of Cerberus‘s keyboard and mouse support, so it can’t be too bad. Once they come out with a version for next gen systems, I may have to pick one up.