Microsoft Dual Strike - Page 2

First Impressions
I must admit that I've not seen anything like the Dual Strike before. The design of it is such that it emulates the control methods of a keyboard/mouse combination.

The Dual Strike is essentially a two-handed controller that consists of two handles or grips connected by a ball-and-socket joint. I will name the left grip the "Movement Control" (MC) and the right grip, the "Perspective Control" (PC) for convenience sake. The MC houses an 8-way hat switch (directional pad) that is used for forward movement, back pedalling and left and right strafing. The PC is able to swivel and rotate about the axes. This is mainly used for perspective control and aiming.The ergonomics of the controller is pretty good and one can easily get a firm and comfortable grip on it.

A Closeup of the Ball and Socket joint and the Accompanying Label

There are altogether 8 configurable buttons on the Dual Strike. Two of these are usually reserved for primary and secondary trigger controls and are located to the front of the controller where your index fingers will rest. Out of the remaining six, four buttons are located on the PC and two on the MC. The four on the PC are arranged in the form of a diamond and will map your controls for jumping, weapons changing, crouching, et cetera. The two on the MC will require you to lift your thumb off the directional hat switch to reach them and will probably map non-essential miscellaneous controls. In addition, there is a Shift button that toggles between two possible controls mapped onto each button. Therefore, there are theoretically 16 possible useful control mappings allowed on the Dual Strike.

Four Members of the Microsoft Game Controller Family. Clockwise from Top Left : Freestyle Pro, Sidewinder Precision Pro, Gampad Pro, Dual Strike

Installation is quite simple and straightforward. The Windows 98 CD must be kept handy because some additional files from it are required. The new Microsoft Sidewinder 4.0 Game Controller software is first installed from the given CD. The next step involves plugging the Dual Strike into a vacant USB port. Windows 98 will then automatically detech the controller. Following that, the drivers will then be correspondingly installed.

Take note that version 4.0 of the Sidewinder software works only with Sidewinder USB-only game controllers. You will still need to use version 3.02 or earlier to customise version 3.02-compatible game controllers. This means that gameport-only controllers like the Sidewinder Precision Pro will not work with this new version.

Sidewinder Central Ver 4.0

However, there is a minor gripe in the setting up of the Dual Strike. There is some problem with the Dual Strike coexisting with my venerable Sidewinder Freestyle Pro. With the existing Sidewinder Freestyle Pro connected to the PC, the Dual Strike cannot be detected during bootup. The workaround is to disconnect the Dual Strike and plug it in again. To ease things, I disconnected the Freestyle Pro for the duration of the review.

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