To test the Gamepad 2 I played several games from different genres to test it’s ability to perform comfortably while hopefully improving my gameplay.
The games played were as follows:
|FEAR, HL2: Episode 2
|Company of Heroes
|Pirates of the Burning Sea
The PC used to test this device was as follows:
|Intel Core 2 Duo E6750 @ 3.2 Ghz
|MSI x38 Diamond
|Crucial DDR3 12800 2GB @ 1600 mhz
|Maxtor DiamondMax 20 80GB SATA
|Silverstone Olympian 650W
The first games I tested this on were the FPS titles, so I powered up FEAR and jumped into a Factory deathmatch game. Immediately upon entering I noticed that when moving around, the keys were all positioned in the same places as they would be on a normal keyboard; just slightly more comfortable (by this I mean, that pressing shift doesn’t require a jack-knifing of your little finger). This is a huge plus for the Gamepad as it allows you to plug in and play whereas other boards, such as the Revoltec Fightpad, have a slight learning curve.
In terms of gameplay, I’ve never really found that butterfly keys speed up your gameplay, they are simply more comfortable and the lack of stress on your hands allows for not only more gaming stamina, but probably increased dexterity as you don’t end up with the claw. This was the case with the Gamepad too, as I didn’t really feel like I was playing any quicker, but I seemed to come out top more often than when I have used generic or even gamer keyboards. Both in FEAR and HL2: Episode 2 I felt my gameplay was improved through better key placement and additional comfort from the soft keys and wrist rest which increased my playing longevity.
In Company of Heroes – a mainly mouse controlled game – I noticed less of a difference than I did in the FPS titles, since in this game I merely used the board for unit selection and map scrolling. Again though, because of the increased comfort I was able to play for longer and not only that, but because of the key placement being superior to that of a standard keyboard, I was more inclined to learn some of the shortcuts that I doubt I would have bothered with otherwise. There were only 2 small problems I noticed during my testing with COH. The first was that for someone like myself with relatively small hands, pressing CTRL + 9/0 was quite difficult. However this is merely nitpicking, as you wouldn’t be able to do this with one hand on a keyboard anyway. The other problem was the lack of F buttons. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem, but since COH uses F10 as it’s menu key, having only F1-F4 proved irritating as I had to move back to the main keyboard whenever I needed to pause or save.
The final game I tested it in was Pirates of the Burning Sea. An unreleased MMO title that is currently going through a stress test. In this game you use WASD for character and ship movement, while using space to fire your cannons. You also use the number keys for your character’s skills and attacks and your ships special abilities. Again, it was the improved key layout that helped the most here. Because of the much more compact nature of the number keys I was able to use my attacks much more fluid manner and the regular usage buttons such as WASD and space bar were in the correct positions for me to ever need to look at the board to gauge where I needed to place my fingers or thumb.
Throughout all of the testing, I didn’t develop any ki
d of claw shape like I have with many keyboards. It was very comfortable to use with the soft keys and foam wrist rest. However, I did notice that it doesn’t take much to cause the pad to slide. It’s not a large movement even with lots of pressure, but it could be enough to annoy some. The lack of macros keys was a bit of a shame and would have come in handy during my sessions of PotBS but it’s also nice to not have to bother with cumbersome, ugly software just to use it.
The Gamepad 2 from Cyber Snipa costs around £20 which is £10 less than the Revoltec Fightpad, £5 less than the WolfClaw Devour, and a whopping £20 cheaper than the Zboard Fang.