Floats Like a Butterfly, Stings Like an Aimon XB
I saw something about the Aimon XB controller/mouse on the OnliveFans forum, and remembered a friend who mentioned having purchased one of these under a different brand, FragNstein, a quite a while back for his gaming needs. Didn’t give much thought to it at the time, but after seeing this at OLF over the weekend, I called him up for a demo of it in action. After mucking about with them for a few hours, my general opinion of the product is that it delivers the precision of a mouse, without any of the clumsiness associated with the keyboard. And it succeeds at doing so, whether you are on a console or a PC. To say that the Aimon controllers embody the best of both console and PC gaming worlds, is a bit of an understatement from where I am sitting. And quite frankly considering the benefits, I am surprised that neither major console makers thought of this first, and made something similar as an official offering in their console-branded product lines.
My friend Paul, currently has both versions of the Aimon: the XB for the Xbox, and the PS for the Playstation (complete with Sixaxis motion control support). I got the op to try them both out, and came away very satisfied on both counts. I was told that traditionally, the PS worked better than the XB due to complications with the Xbox 360 not wanting to support mice properly. But that recent firmware upgrades had fixed these problems. And sure enough, from my play test, both performed indistinguishably on their respected consoles.
While neither Aimon XB or PS on console, are as precise as using a mouse on PC (something to do with dead zone settings in the aim assist, no doubt), they both are far superior to using the right analog stick on either game console controllers. Had I to guess, I’d say versus the use of a mouse on PC, and a mouse on console via the Aimon, there is perhaps a 10% to 15% gap. When compared to a standard game controller, is a major upgrade. But what really impresses, is this multiplayer video from Halo: Reach that I discovered while doing my due diligence on the Aimon controllers. Pay particular attention to the Classic Slayer match in the second half of the video, starting at seven minutes in. The advantage of the Aimon XB over standard controllers, become painfully obvious – for everyone else playing against the guy who made the video.
Now what really gets me excited most about the Aimon controllers, is the fact that either version of the controller works flawlessly on a PC. I’ve long been an on-again, off-again PC gamer. I attribute a large portion of my off-again status to the lack of unified game controller support, and the clumsiness of the keyboard. Controlling something with a mouse, is quite possibly one of the best, if not the best way to control a game under most conditions. What has always frustrated me over the decades with PC gaming, is the reliance of the medium on keyboards – after 30 years, one would have thought they would have come up with something better by now. And over the decades, despite many attempts at creating a plethora of more game-centric keyboards, you never really get around the fact that the keyboard itself, is quite possibly the most ill suited device for game control ever invented. Tens of millions gamers over the decades, force themselves to get used to using a keyboard anyway simply because until recently, there are not too many other options available. But make no mistake about it, if given the option, most gamers new to PC gaming, would opt for something better than a keyboard, if the option existed and they knew about it. The fact that most people new to gaming period, opt for console over PC, is very telling. And while there are plenty of reasons for newbies to choose a console over a PC, the difficulty of mastering a keyboard as a control interface, while you are repeatedly getting your assed raped at Team Fortress 2, or some other equally compelling games, is certainly high up on the list.
And this in particular is where the Aimon controllers ability to run flawlessly on PC, come as a very welcome surprise. You still use the mouse like usual, but the clunky keyboard WASD controls, have been replaced with an analog stick that feels much more natural to use during gaming. Plus between the controller wand and the mouse, there are enough buttons to satisfy the need of most games. You have default key bindings for not only the WASD and T via the analog stick, but also 1, 2, 3, 4, via the D-Pad, and E, F, SPACE, and SHIFT. And on the mouse, you have C, Z, X, L, Q, LEFT, RIGHT, and scroll wheel. Plus you have the option to change from the defaults, and rebind all buttons anyway you see fit. And the mouse comes with resolutions from 400 CPI, all the way up to 1600 CPI. And while sure there are mice out there with much higher resolutions (I’ve seen them with as high as 6000 CPI), 1600 CPI is still pretty respectable for the average gamer. And it’s not like the CPI can’t be upgraded via firmware updates. As PC controllers go, especially for one looking to replace the venerable keyboard, the Aimon comes out smelling like a rose. And for myself in particular, having recently switched from years of console gaming exclusively, to gaming a considerable amount on PC thanks to the wunderkind gaming service called, OnLive, the Aimons are a life saver. I own games via OnLive, which either cannot be played with a controller, or I keep getting my ass kicked in multiplayer, because my keyboard skills are lacking due to years of neglect. After the weekend’s play test, for the first time, I am back in the game and can finally hold my own once again in a deathmatch.
For any OnLive users reading this, sadly, I did not get to try the Aimons out with OnLive’s MicroConsole; all my play testing was done using OnLive’s PC client. However, I have been assured by several parties that the Aimons will indeed work flawlessly with the OnLive MicroConsole. Definitely something I am looking to try out for myself, and have already placed an order for a set of these controllers. Mentioning, Tuact does not sell these directly from their official website. Not quite sure why they do not, as setting up an online store is easy enough to do these days. However, the official site does offer up a list of official resellers you can purchase an Aimon from. Depending whom you purchase it from, these can run as little as $50, or as high as $80. Not exactly the perfect way to run a business IMO, but I still cannot deny the results of the end product.