Of Mice and Keys – Eagle Eye Mouse and Keyboard Converter Review

Our Rating
out of 5.0

For many PC gamers, playing with console controllers can be a serious pain.  They have fewer inputs than a keyboard and less control compared to a mouse, making them feel less effective.  Enter the Eagle Eye Mouse and Keyboard Converter for Xbox 360.  This little device allows gamers to use their keyboard and mouse for gaming, completely replacing the controller.  Is this method of gameplay an effective one, or simply just another hardware gimmick?

The first thing you need to know about the Eagle Eye is that in order for it to work you’ll need a first-party wired Xbox 360 controller.  This controller must send a signal to the console, telling it to allow the adapter to work as the controller.  This immediately presents a problem as first-party wired controllers are simply not available anymore.  All consoles come pre-packed with wireless versions, with the only wired variants available for purchase being made by third party companies.   It should also be noted that the device will generally not support a wireless mouse or keyboard, or any others that require specific drivers to function.  Some may work, but your best bet is to have basic models close at hand to guarantee compatibility.

Before attaching the Eagle Eye to your console, it must first be programmed.  Included in the box is a mini-CD which contains the necessary application to do so.   In said app, users will find a picture of an Xbox controller with a series of labels over the buttons.  From here it’s as simple as clicking the button you wish to program, and hitting the key on your keyboard that you would like to bind to it.  By default, the right thumbstick is mapped to the mouse and is unchangeable.  Similarly, the same program can be used to make specific changes to sensitivity and dead zone settings, but more on that later.

Once all the controls have been mapped to their desired location, the device is ready for use with your console.  First, plug the Eagle-Eye into any USB port, and then plug your wired controller into the keyboard position.  Wait for your Xbox to confirm that a controller has been connected, and then replace it with the keyboard and mouse in their labeled locations.  If done correctly, your console should now be controllable via your keyboard and mouse set up.

Before one can start up a game, however, there is a bit of a challenge to overcome: keyboard/mouse placement.  Mice require a flat surface with enough room for movement, and your average keyboard takes up a good amount of space. Finding a comfortable place for the two devices to function properly may be a problem.  My personal playroom setup consists of a couch, chair, and a table of about knee-height.  The table offers enough room for the two devices to work well, but in order to use them on it I’m forced to either constantly lean forward or sit on the floor; neither of which feels good on my back for more than a few minutes.  My solution was to make a desk of sorts using two TV dinner stands, allowing me to sit in a relaxed position and still have the room for control I needed.

After getting comfortable, it’s time to boot up the game of your choice.  In my case, this was Battlefield 3, as both it and the majority of the series are built around the PC.  Dropping into the first match, most players will likely have to adjust the sensitivity and dead zone settings I mentioned earlier.  This process can take hours, depending on the player, as the device itself has to be adjusted as well as the in-game sensitivity setting.  Finding a balance between the two is crucial; otherwise, accurate shooting will be nearly impossible.  To adjust these settings, players may either use the aforementioned program via their PC, or use the F# keys on the keyboard.  Instructions on how to do this can by found in the included manual.

Part of the length for adjustment comes from how the mouse acts.  There is a certain threshold for movement speed; for example, move the mouse too fast and your turn/look speed will slow down.  Players will need to develop a bit of muscle memory to learn the limit in order to really be able to dial everything in.

Upon finally completing the pre-game set up and actually playing a round for real, players will experience surprisingly good handling with no noticeable delay.  The amount of control available by mouse allows players to make minute movements, while still being able to turn fast enough to keep their sights on closer, speedier targets.  There was a bit of an issue at first for me with rate of fire from weapons; automatic weapons, for instance, would fire in bursts while continually holding the trigger down.  After a few minutes, however, the Eagle Eye seemed to sort this issue out itself and it has yet to happen again.

Aside from the mouse’s awesome range of motion, the keyboard has its own helpful aspects.  With a controller, players must remove their thumbs from the thumbsticks in order to press most of the buttons.  The keyboard allows multiple fingers to be used for movement and actions at the same time.  Since no more than two keys need to be pressed at a time for basic movement, this frees up two other fingers and a thumb to reload, sprint, switch weapons, use attachments, or anything else the player can set their mind to.  Keeping everything close at hand will allow players to save precious seconds and boost their kill/death spreads.

To add to the advantages provided by the mouse and keys, the Eagle Eye supports a feature called ADS (Aim Down Sights) Mode.  This mode is activated by holding down a key or mouse button (preferably the one you mapped your ADS on) and supports its own sensitivity settings and control schemes.  For example: while sniping, players can set ADS Mode to a lower sensitivity to make for incredibly fine-aiming while changing the reload button to the steady-your-aim button instead.  Players are only limited by their imagination, as the possibilities brought by this feature are virtually endless.  If this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, the setting is completely optional.

Do you hate having to button mash?  Well then it’s you’re lucky day, as the device has a switch for every controller button.  Flick it to the on position and held keys will send button presses faster than humanly possible, letting your fingers sit back and relax.  Just try to avoid use in online play; while it may be tempting to have your pistol fire like an MG42, many game developers and communities frown upon this and consider it cheating.

There are many cool features for players, but it should be noted that not every shooter is created equal.  On consoles, some games will use X to reload, whereas others will use RB.  Switching weapons could be on Y for one title and the D-Pad for another.  This can make switching between games very confusing.  The Eagle Eye has got you covered though, as it supports two control schemes.  Simply flick a switch, and your controls have changed.  This allows you to keep your Battlefield settings intact, yet still play games like Brink or Modern Warfare 3 with similar schemes.

While the Eagle Eye is effective for shooters, other genres are a different story.  Since keys handle movement, players can either remain stationary or move at full speed.  For games like the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection or Deus Ex: Human Revolution, tilting the left thumbstick in smaller degrees allows for slower and silent movements.  Using a keyboard makes actions like these impossible, removing key aspects for some games.  Since there are only two different key maps, this severely limits the amount of games one can play on it before having to re-map controls.  In short, this is a device mainly for first- (and maybe some third-) person shooters.

At the end of the day, the Eagle Eye Keyboard and Mouse converter for Xbox 360 is a very accurate and helpful device, but it also a bit of a one-trick pony.  For hardcore mouse and key FPS players, it will be a blessing from the gaming gods.  For the average Joe and gamers that enjoy multiple genres, it will be nothing more than a cool and under-used gimmick.  If you’re the target audience, then this is a definite buy, as you will not regret it!

Final Score: 4.25 / 5.0

Our Rating
out of 5.0

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