While millions of World of Warcraft players do just fine with your standard two-button mouse, SteelSeries reckons they could do better with the extra twelve provided by the World of Warcraft: Cataclysm MMO Gaming Mouse. Are they right?
Platform: Mac, PC
What's in the box: Mouse, Instructions (Driver software is downloaded via the SteelSeries Website)
Two years ago SteelSeries and Blizzard Entertainment joined forces to create the World of Warcraft MMO Gaming Mouse, a sexy yet cumbersome 15 button mouse dedicated to making gamers' travels in the fantasy world of Azeroth easier. Now that the Cataclysm expansion changed the face of World of Warcraft, SteelSeries changed the face of their top-end MMO mouse.
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There can be no mistaking the primary purpose of SteelSeries' latest creation, what with the World of Warcraft logo emblazoned on top of a stylized shell under laid with glowing LED lights meant to mimic molten fire and metal surface of the Cataclysm expansion's main antagonist, the dread dragon Deathwing. This is a piece of hardware created specifically for World of Warcraft players.
This updated version of the original World of Warcraft gaming mouse houses a grand total of fourteen buttons: Two standard mouse buttons; five thumb-accessible buttons on the left side; six buttons on the top of the unit (including the scroll wheel); and one on the right side of the mouse's base. Each of the twelve additional buttons can be mapped to commands, skills, and magical spells commonly used in World of Warcraft.
Customization is handled via World of Warcraft-themed configuration software, where users can tweak mouse sensitivity, set up multiple custom control profiles to tailor the device to each character in their lineup, and even choose the color, intensity, and pulsation of the mouse's LED lighting.
Configuring the unit is relatively simple. Once you've downloaded and installed the configuration program, the default World of Warcraft profile is loaded automatically, giving players one-button access to oft-used commands like opening up the in-game map, cycling through hostile or friendly targets, or opening all bags in their inventory to help gauge how much longer they can adventure before hitting up a vendor and selling off extra items. Clicking on any button on the configuration screen opens a list of common World of Warcraft actions, making it simple for even novice users to set up the mouse to their liking, while more experienced players can strong together custom commands to create shortcut buttons for complicated actions.
Blizzard worked closely with SteelSeries in developing the World of Warcraft: Cataclysm MMO Gaming Mouse, going as far as to include an option within the game to assign skills and commands to the device's buttons on the fly without even having to touch the configuration software.
What We Liked
The original World of Warcraft MMO Gaming Mouse featured a unique design that unfortunately sacrificed ergonomic comfort in favor of style. But while the Cataclysm MMO Gaming Mouse looks and feels like a standard (albeit slightly larger-than-normal) mouse, its twelve additional buttons are situated in such a way that they are never in the way during normal operation, yet always within easy reach when needed. It's a marked improvement.
The configuration software is intuitive and easy to understand, allowing the user to tailor all aspects of the mouse's function without much hassle. Configuring each button is as simple as selecting from a list of common World of Warcraft commands. Want to assign the button near your ring finger to trigger the spell in slot nine of your WoW shortcut bar? Two clicks and it's done. Ten different profile slots means the player can tailor the mouse for several different characters, switching between configurations with the press of a button. One profile can even be saved directly to the mouse's memory, so the player can simply plug the mouse into a new system and start playing with their settings intact.
The integration with the World of Warcraft game is extremely convenient. When my low level warrior gained an ability called Execute that grants her a powerful attack once the engaged enemy drops below 20 percent health, I kept missing my opportunity to hit the keyboard key associated with the skill. All I had to do was enter into the game's key binding menu, assign an unused mouse button to the skill, and presto! The power to Execute was at my fingertips.
Not only is the mouse flexible and functional it's also quite fashionable, if you're into the whole Cataclysm look.
What We Didn't Like
Like its predecessor, the World of Warcraft: Cataclysm MMO Gaming Mouse is a single-minded peripheral, meant for use primarily with one game and one game only. This means that while it will function amazingly in terms of that single game, it's not going to be the ideal device for gamers that play a wide variety of titles other than Blizzard's MMO. If World of Warcraft is just one of the many PC or Mac games you crave additional buttons for, there are more flexible solutions in the pipeline.
My only other issue with the Cataclysm MMO Gaming Mouse is related to the function that allows players to import their character information from the World of Warcraft Armory in order to personalize their profiles with their character's name and portrait. This functionality was not working when I received the mouse several weeks ago, and is still not functioning today. SteelSeries is aware of the issue and is working on a fix, but a non-working feature is a non-working feature.
The Bottom Line
The dedicated World of Warcraft player couldn't ask for a finer pointing device than the SteelSeries World of Warcraft: Cataclysm MMO Gaming Mouse. It's a glowing testament to the love fans have for the popular massively multiplayer online role-playing game, packed with fine functionality specifically tailored to enhance their adventures in the lands of Azeroth and beyond. While the narrow focus coupled with the hefty $100 price tag will likely put off PC gamers with broader tastes, there are millions of players around the globe that might not mind being catered to.
The World of Warcraft: Cataclysm MMO Gaming Mouse was developed by SteelSeries and Blizzard for the Mac and PC, released in December. Retails for $99.99. A unit was given to us by the manufacturer for reviewing purposes. Spent several weeks using the mouse in World of Warcraft and other games, utilizing it in my day-to-day work activities as well. Changed the glow color at least two dozen times.