|Thrustmaster Frag Master|
Thrustmaster, famous for their flight sticks and racing wheels, has developed---according to the dedicated Frag Master website---"the ultimate First Person Shooter Control." Ultimate? At the risk of sounding like a snob, the PR department doth hype too much, methinks. Let's take a closer look to see where the Frag Master wins, and where it loses.
The design lives up to its name as a wicked looking controller, appearing almost like a cyberpunk style racing wheel. The ten buttons that adorn the handgrips are in just the right places. Movement is a mixed bag, however, since while the controller moves pretty well there are some design issues that impact gameplay.
Let’s get some specs on this bad boy before going any further:
Exclusive ThrustMaster DirectConnect™ technology uses Frag Master’s onboard microprocessor to calculate your movements and button presses instantly. Your commands are then transferred to your computer digitally, at high speed, and through a standard game port. No analog delays. No drift. Faster game play. Sounds good, right?
The controller is quite large with base dimensions being 9.5 x 8.5 inches and the height around 8 inches. This baby takes up some desktop real estate, so bear that in mind when looking it over.
The biggest downside to the physical design is the lack of suction cups to attach it firmly to your desk, even though the silicon pads do the job part time. The design is a comfortable fit in your hands and left me with a good initial impression as I took it out of the box and prepared to install it.
Designed from the ground up to be specifically for shooters, the layout shows the attention to detail expected from Thrustmaster. The company sales line denotes the Frag Master as “the ultimate control” and “movement feels natural and not confusing.” While it does make some moves much easier (i.e., the ‘circle strafe’), it is not as easy to get used to as one might expect.
Frag Master: Designed specifically for 1st Person Shooters, combines joystick and mouse technologies. Is it a Jouse? Moystick?
Installation is a snap since the standard game port is as all that is needed. Pop in the installation CD before adding your controller to the port and let the install run. Install prompts you when it’s ready for the controller to be connected.
After connecting the controller you head in to the game setup utilities in the Frag Master program group to install the pre-packaged retail game configurations. Setup files for games such as Quake, Quake II, Blood II, Half Life, Hexen II, Klingon Honor Guard, Shogo-MAD and Unreal are added for you. For others you must use the ThrustMapper utility which is very simple to navigate.
Before attempting to map your keys to the joystick buttons you should first have either your game manual or keyboard overlay handy for reference. Open the mapper utility and choose "Add Game." Next point to the games folder, map each button to the desired key and voila, your buttons now mimic the same action as the keypress. Go through each of the desired keys until you are finished then save your mapping file and you’re ready for action.
With the Megahurts™ mode emulating the mouse I decided to first try the Frag Master with Rainbow Six. Although Rainbow Six does not support joysticks, I figured the Megahurts™ mode should be able to spoof the game into thinking it was a mouse.
After mapping my buttons I entered Rainbow Six and attempted to start a training mission. No go. I also noticed that the mouse cursor was winking from confusion as to what was in control: the mouse or the Frag Master? After several more attempts with the same results I decided enough was enough and moved on to Delta Force.
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Last Updated March 12th, 1999