SplitFish FragFX Shark Tries To Bring A Little Bit Of PC To The PS3

Illustration for article titled SplitFish FragFX Shark Tries To Bring A Little Bit Of PC To The PS3

The first-person shooter was born to be played on a PC, with a mouse and keyboard. Then along came consoles, and things had to change. The SplitFish FragFX Shark is trying to change things back.

Price: US$89.99
Platform: PS3 / PC / Mac
What's in the box: Mouse, Nunchuk, USB Adapter, Mouse Pad

Designed for the PS3 (but also compatible with the PC and Mac), the Shark is a great idea for a tiny, dedicated niche of PlayStation 3 owners who do nothing but play first-person shooters all day. For everyone else, it's more trouble than it's worth.


The Basics

For a few years now, SplitFish has been trying to bring the accuracy of a mouse to PlayStation 3 gaming with its FragFX controller setups, and the Shark is the latest in this line. It consists of two controllers: a mouse and a "nunchuk", similar to that you'd find for the Wii or PlayStation Move (it's even got its own gyroscope for motion control, just like the DUalShock 3). There's also a small USB dongle that you insert in the PS3 (or PC/Mac, if you're short a mouse) so that the devices can communicate.

Using It

The Shark is a cinch to use on your PS3. You plug in the USB dongle, turn on both controllers and you're off. The "nunchuk" is essentially the left half of a regular DualShock, with an analog stick (which handles player movement) and trigger buttons, while the movement of the mouse takes up the role of the right thumbstick (which is how you look around and aim). The mouse buttons replace a DualShock's triggers, while the PlayStation's face buttons (X, O, etc) are tucked away on the inside, near the user's right thumb.


The only hassle comes in playing different games; the Shark's sensitivity can differ from title to title, so you have to adjust each game's settings accordingly.

What We Liked

In many ways, it works as advertised. When playing Killzone 2, aiming felt smoother and more precise than with a regular controller, as did the important task of snapping between regular aiming and a "down the sights" view (accomplished with a click of the mouse's scroll wheel). It was also a joy using the mouse to control the cursor in the PS3's web browser, making it far easier to use than with a standard controller.


What We Didn't Like

It's just so...convoluted. To use the shark effectively, you have to re-learn everything you instinctually know about first-person shooters. The concept of what a trigger does, what a click of the right thumbstick accomplishes, etc is so hard-wired in our gaming consciousness that it takes a lot of hard work to use a different scheme. And I don't think the slight improvements in aiming speed are worth that hassle. Both controllers also feel cheap, especially the uncomfortable mouse, which is disappointing for a setup that costs USD$90.


The Bottom Line

If you do nothing with your PlayStation 3 but play first-person shooters, and are willing to put in the time and effort needed to master a new control scheme, then the Shark will be worth a look. But seeing as it's over-priced, tough to master and is of limited use in other genres, for most people there's not much to recommend.


The FragFX Shark was developed by SplitFish for use with the PlayStation 3, PC and Mac. Retails for USD$89.99 and released in Fall 2010. A device was given to us by the manufacturer for reviewing purposes. Tested on PlayStation 3 using Killzone 2, Uncharted 2, XMB and web browser.

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I always wonder about "mouse-on-console" gaming, because the input method really is different than that of a regular controller. With a controller, the game is listening for how far away the stick has been tilted from the dead zone, but with a mouse and a PC game, it is always listening for any slight movement indicating a change in direction and how far it has gone. To that end, I have imagined that a mouse-to-console setup would involve some sort of translation system within the body of the mouse, where gestures from said mouse have to imitate the gestures of a control stick, and it just seems like something could easily go wrong.

I don't know from reading this review whether or not my amateur hypothesis was validated, but I do know that I have no intention of spending $90 on a potentially "eh" control solution. Maybe next time.