Microsoft Dual Strike - Page 4

Frag Test
To get a second opinion of the performance of the Dual Strike, I roped in Wy Mun, an ardent Quake III player, to give his comments as well! The games we tried on were Quake III Arena and Unreal Tournament. We had some differences in opinion, but in the end, we concurred that the Dual Strike could not oust the keyboard/mouse combination just yet.

A brief blurb of the Dual Strike's performance in each game is given before an explaination. Wy Mun's comments are in red and mine are in the standard black.

Quake III Arena
Quake III Arena is quite "insane" as everything happens darn fast in the Deathmatch-centric maps provided. You need to move very fast, shoot very accurately and change your weapons with minimal fuss. Here are my mappings :

  • "Fire" : Right Trigger
  • "Forward Weapon Switch" : Left Trigger
  • "Jump" : Topmost button on the PC
  • "Backward Weapon Switch" : Leftmost button on the PC
  • "Rocket Launcher" : Bottommost button on the PC
  • "Use Item" : Rightmost button on the PC

Moving around using the Dual Strike is quite decent. It actually feels quite cool using the controller to have a casual stroll through the maps with no opponents. I can just lie back and enjoy the view without reaching for the mouse. However, I feel that the Dual Strike does not perform well when the going gets hot, especially during circle strafings and 180 turns. This is because the turning rate will slow down when the Dual Strike is in a full lock. In other words, turning within the Spin Zone is much slower than within the Aiming Zone. The lack of diagonal mappings in Q3A compounds the problem.

Further aggravating the slow turning speeds at full-lock, the Dual Strike doesn't allow you to reset your position (as I can with my mouse by lifting it up and moving back to the center of the mousepad).  In the end, I had to do a 180 deg turn back in the other direction to face my circular strafing opponent. By then, I would have been either fragged or lost track of my aiming (as by turning against his motion of circular strafing, I can't effectively aim nor track him accurately anymore)...

I also feel that accurate railing is more difficult than a mouse because a mouse on the desk feels firmer and offers better stability than a handheld controller.

Unreal Tournament
The default pace for Unreal Tournament (Hardcore setting) is slower than that of Quake III Arena. As a result, things are a little less "insane". But this does not mean that the control demands are any lesser. The mappings I use for UT are somewhat different from that of Q3A :

  • "Primary Fire" : Right Trigger
  • "Secondary Fire" : Left Trigger
  • "Jump" : Topmost button on the PC
  • "Forward Weapon Switch" : Leftmost button on the PC
  • "Backward Weapon Switch" : Rightmost button on the PC
  • "Select Best Weapon" : Bottommost button on the PC

For the purpose of comparison, I will list here my personal command mappings for the keyboard and mouse combination. The mouse in use is the Logitech Mouseman Wheel.

  • "Primary Fire" : Left Mouse Button
  • "Secondary Fire" : Right Mouse Button
  • "Forward Weapon Switch" : Wheel Up
  • "Backward Weapon Switch" : Wheel Down
  • "Forward" : W key
  • "Backpeddle" : S key
  • "Strafe Left" : A key
  • "Strafe Right" : D key
  • "Jump" : Spacebar
  • "Crouch" : C key
  • "Select Best Weapon" : Alt key
  • "Translocator" : Shift key
  • "Flak Cannon" : Ctrl key
  • "Sniper Rifle" : X key
  • "Pulse Gun" : Z key
  • "Shock Rifle" : Q key
  • "Minigun" : E key
  • "Taunt 1" : F key (Great with friends)
  • "Taunt 2" : Caps Lock (Great with friends too!)

My impressions of the Dual Strike in UT are very similar to that in Q3A. A casual walk through the map for the purposes of exploration and familiarisation is more comfortable and fun as compared to using the keyboard and mouse. Fragging with the bots and the multitude of UT players out there is another matter. The slow turn rates during a full lock of the controller and the lack of diagonal movement mappings in UT can make for rather lacklustre control performance.

Frag Verdict
Speaking from the standpoint of someone who has for some time, been using the keyboard and mouse for FPS, I believe that the learning curve of effective fragging using the Dual Strike can be really damning for experienced users of the keyboard and mouse. No matter how patient one is, frustration will eventually set in if he does not see instant reward and gratification from adapting unnecessary to something new and unfamiliar. I have logged in about 15 hours of UT online with the Dual Strike and do not really see it as the replacement for the keyboard and mouse. However, players new to the FPS genre do not carry this ideological baggage and should be more willing to learn.

Another area that I felt Microsoft perhaps overlooked was the transition for veteran players to use the DualStrike in mapping similar buttons used. For example, when one uses the mouse to play Q3 (both the right index and middle fingers are typically used). It would have been so much more sensible and convenient for the DS to have 2 buttons readily available for these 2 fingers use.  Instead, they opted to have only one right index finger button, and virtually leaves my middle finger as a physical support role for the gamepad. They could have so easily put another button there which would have made it so much more meaningful. Perhaps they positioned it too much for entry-level users who had no prior knowledge of using the mouse to play games.

An important note is that in Q3A and UT, there is no option for diagonal movement mappings. This means that users of the Dual Strike will not be able to move diagonally (there's no way you can depress the forward and left hats simultaneously).

The ability to traverse diagonally is an important asset that many players take for granted in a FPS. Imagine an opponent some distance to your front armed with a machine gun (in Q3A). You have a shotgun and desperately want to close the distance to deliver a powerful slug of rounds. With diagonal movements, you can sidestep left or right to avoid the rounds fired at you while still moving towards him. Without diagonal movements, in order to sidestep, you will have to take a break from your advance. The worst case result is that your enemy will take the opportunity to increase the distance and eventually turn you into a leaky piece of meat because of the ineffectiveness of the shotgun at far ranges. In addition, when you retreat up a flight of stairs while keeping your pulse gun (in UT) trained on an enemy, your mouse will be busy tracking him and diagonal steps are essential in keeping yourself from deviating from the path of stairs. This can be applied to situations where you have to follow a path and still train your weapon on someone.

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